Thursday, October 21, 2010

A "time is money" tale

I've known her for decades. She's a skilled shopper, the type who can squeeze a penny until it yelps, and loves bargain-hunting. We meet occasionally at Fairway supermarket, just so that she can get her jollies giving me good ideas for purchases and watching me find so many items for a better price than I would pay elsewhere.

All was going great until it was time for me to pay. Then I told her that my back could no longer handle the "backpack schlep" and that, since my husband was stuck at home with a tax client, I'd have to take a taxi home. She practically had a heart attack. First, she insisted that I wait until my husband's client had left and he could meet us. When I pointed out that the trip would take about an hour, and that I wanted to go home right away, she suggested that I go ahead, and that she could wait for my husband with the groceries. Even my statement that I wanted my husband to be home when I arrived so that we could eat dinner together didn't satisfy her. Finally, I had to resort to lying, calling my husband and pretending that he'd told me that he had to stay home to finish a tax return.

On the way home in the taxi, I thought about the differences in our lives that had led to such a disagreement. She's never been married and has no children, so she has no one around whose schedule she has to plan. In addition, she's been disabled and unable to work for over a decade due to an unfortunate combination of old injuries and newer illnesses. Aside from planning around her weekly doctor and hospital appointments, she simply has far fewer constraints on her time--but far more constraints on her money. So it just doesn't register with her anymore that sometimes it's better to spend money in order to save time (and/or my back). Someday, I may be in a similar financial position. But, fortunately, that day has not arrived yet. I was glad that I could afford to take a cab home.


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