Hey, did you know that Walgreens has a handsome AARP discount and also a monthly $3000 sweepstakes you can enter by calling or going online to take their survey about your recent shopping experience? And that it costs only $63 to renew your AARP membership for five years? And that you can become an AARP member at age 50, while you’re still young enough to wring every drop of pleasure out of it? Me, neither, until recently, when it has become my business to know such things. (I did know about being able to become an AARP member at 50. Possibly unlike most people, I signed up the minute I turned 50, but my membership lapsed after the initial period.)
I know you know that no two Walgreens stores are alike. Some are bigger than others, or cleaner, or sell way more stuff for tourists or way more office supplies. I go to various stores accordingly, including the one at Castro and 18th St., which saw the gay community through the multi-year siege of AIDS. There is a woman working there who is always friendly and helpful, and you can tell she loves her job and her customers. Last week she was wearing earrings made out of tiny Walgreens Balance Rewards cards.
It was she who, unsolicited, and with many apologies for daring to presume anything about my age, told me about the AARP discount, which is 20 percent off everything in the store except sale items on the first Tuesday of the month. I rushed home to renew my AARP membership, which will pay for itself in no time, and plan to make a list of what I need from Walgreens and wait until the first Tuesday of the month to buy it, now that I’m either in a career transition, retired, or in a lull between corporate positions, as the case may turn out to be.
Now, did you know that if you buy three of something at Pet Food Express, they’ll give you a fourth one free? If you go up to the counter with a multiple of eight of something, they give you 25% off automatically. Their price on the canned food Hammett eats is lower than Rainbow’s to begin with, so from now on I’m going to walk over to Pet Food Express to get his food, though some of the savings might be canceled out by the fact that a Whole Foods, with its enticing display of Garlic & Parmesan Plentils—the crunchy snack that tastes just like cheese but is vegan—is just across the street.
It occurred to me that after all this saving, I might actually have enough money to retire, which initially was a great feeling: from now on, I can do exactly what I feel like! However, this would definitely mean living very frugally. (It was also before I checked to see what my savings currently amount to.) I’ve already decided to eschew cabs unless utterly necessary, to take the bus up to see Carol Joy instead of going in a City CarShare car, to eat out less often. Meditation retreats and trips to see my parents or to Seattle to see friends and family are also likely to be less frequent.
F. has lately been looking for a new apartment and last Monday he moved into his new place. The past month, he was here nearly seven days a week, which I was hating more by the minute. Every single morning I got up, found something wet or greasy or covered with crumbs or hair in the kitchen, and six times out of seven commented on it, meaning that within five minutes of arising, I felt like a big jerk. Now and then I might succeed in keeping my mouth shut, but still felt put upon. For his part, after months of being extremely tolerant (while also leaving the exact same messes over and over), F. has made it clear he hates having the first thing he hears in the morning be a complaint, which is quite understandable.
After I helped him move, I came home to my empty apartment and felt a vast sense of relief and pleasure: all alone! Ahhhh! I tidied up and put some of his often-used items away, at least for the time being, and felt more relaxed with each passing moment. When I woke up the next morning, I felt great and there was nothing going on in the kitchen to change that. I started to think I’m not cut out for overnight company ever, but after a few days, I noticed something seemed to be missing: the sound of myself laughing, because the funny guy hadn’t been here, so we’ll see.
One reason I mention this is that F. is retired and lives on a modest income, and so I had been thinking about some things I was going to get for him when he got his new place, like a sturdy folding table similar to the one he uses here for his art projects. But now I feel very disinclined to do that. All of a sudden, after years when I often didn’t even glance at the total showing on a cash register or at my receipt, I’m scouring the town for bargains, and while I’m appreciating my own can-save spirit, contemplating decades of it is dispiriting. Therefore, today I started to think maybe I’m not quite ready to be an ex-corporate employee after all.