Whitesburg KY
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Giving advice may land you on an air mattress

Points East


Usually, other than answering the phone, I have the Friday after Thanksgiving pretty much to myself and this year has, so far, been no exception.

Having spent hours on Thursday night sorting through several pounds of sales fliers and arranging them in some sort of order by location on maps of Richmond and Lexington, Loretta was up at the crack of dawn, ready to rendezvous with her sister, Helen, to do some heavy duty shopping and mall treading.

This has been their ritual for about three decades.

I got suckered into tagging along one time back in the early ’80s and my marriage barely survived the trip. I have not since been invited nor has it even crossed my mind to ask if they would like my company.

Both of these women are suckers for “while they last” advertisements. One store in Lexington, for example, had GPS devices, regularly $299.99 for a mere $59.99, while they last. Of course this is qualified in fine print that no rain checks will be issued.

The ad does not say that they only have two of these things and people have been standing in line since Halloween to get at them.

Still, Loretta is of the opinion that she and I desperately need one to accommodate our yardsale habit. For the record I am the person in our household who will automatically stop at a service station or flag down a policeman and ask for directions when we get lost. It’s not difficult to get lost in Lexington because they keep adding or renaming streets at a rate of (I’m just guessing) one every seven or so minutes.

Loretta believes that a GPS, plugged into the cigarette lighter hole, will enable us to simply type in a street address and the device will tell us exactly where we are and how to get the address. If it’s wrong she says, then we can both yell at the device instead of at each other. What this means is that we can use the time we normally spend lost, arguing, and kissing/making up to check out many more sales than we usually find.

“It could,” she says, “easily pay for itself on a single Saturday in the high rent districts.”

Unfortunately she wants a GPS at a yard sale price. I know her well enough to also know that she is fixated on the $59.99 deal and I know enough about GPS systems to also know that she has about as much chance of winning the Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes as she does actually purchasing one at that price.

So, while Loretta and Helen are out fighting traffic, suffering one disappointment after another and wadding up sales fliers for stuff that cleared the racks before they got out of bed, I am making turkey salad, drinking coffee, pigging out on pumpkin pie, lazily writing my column and answering the phone.

When half an hour goes by without the phone ringing I know that they are either in a crafts store or the ladies’ garments department. Otherwise they are soliciting my advice. The GPS system has not been mentioned nor has it been purchased. There has been no mention of any other purchases made as advertised. I’m smart enough to steer clear of the subject because the first words out of my mouth would be, “I told you so.”

I also know, from many years of experience, that such advice is never helpful and should never be rendered unless I want to sleep by myself for several nights and get the silent treatment for the next two weeks come mealtimes.

So far today I have been consulted on the price of an automatic wrench priced at $29.99. Instead of using one’s thumb to roll the adjustment screw, this one will adjust to size with the push of a button because it has a battery-powered motor to do just that. My position is that anybody who can’t manually adjust a $5 wrench to size in 10 seconds does not need a wrench of any type unless they intend to use it as a weapon. In which case, its ease of adjustment would not really matter.

“Well it is a lot heavier than the one you have,” she says.

“I still prefer a gun for combat,” is what I tell her.

I’ve taken a call to find out what I know about battery chargers that can be used on both cars and lawn mowers. She’s found one at, you guessed it, half priced at $59.99. I’ve explained that anything over 20 bucks is too high unless the new owner plans to start a service station or owns a fleet of boats.

Other calls have had to do with a battery-powered saw, an electric knife sharpener, where to find a router/what one looks like, how much use I might get out of a nail gun, the difference in quality between a store brand drill and a Ryobi or a DeWalt, etc.

I have patiently answered all inquiries in very discouraging terms. What I have not said, however, is that these two women should not be shopping for power tools nor even allowed in the aisle where they are on display.

I had earlier made the mistake of suggesting that a $100 gift card from Bluegrass Hardware would be the absolute perfect present for me and that I would get hours of enjoyment just shopping with it not to mention actually using whatever I might buy. Then I made the mistake of rattling off a number of things that I might purchase.

My wife, however, is of the firm belief that gift cards are too impersonal and a sure sign of laziness.

I wish I’d kept my mouth shut.

The last call I took had to do with a self-inflating, motorized, king-size air mattress.

“Buy it,” I advised, thinking to myself that it may come in real handy if my wife starts reading the paper again and sees this column.


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