Every now and then someone who has children will ask what my husband and I could possibly find to talk about after all these years, since we don’t have children. When I was a young, single college student, “smart” was at the very top of my list of what I wanted in a partner. To me, intelligence = sexy. I wanted someone who could talk about anything and who would keep me on my toes and make me work my own grey matter. I wanted someone I could still engage in conversation with when we’re eighty. My husband is an incredibly smart man who once said he could talk for hours about coat hangers (trust me, he actually can). For us, there is never a shortage of topics, and now and then it occurs to me that we might not have the typical conversations that other people do. This morning was one of those.
Here’s what we consider a light-hearted morning conversation over coffee and bagels…
- We discussed (with examples, btw) how companies that sell food – particularly in plastic bottles, aluminum cans, or plastic bags stuffed in cardboard boxes – change the shapes of their containers to shave a few ounces out of what consumers are purchasing, then charge a slightly higher price for the “new and improved”, ergonomically designed containers, thereby saving them a fortune.
- When I mentioned that I think the people who grouse the most (you know, the folks who stand between you and a can of green beans to
yell ateducate you about it) over this particular marketing ploy are the same people who like to wipe out whatever is marked as “10 for $10” at the grocery store, I learned that sometimes those are convenience store owners. Not Circle K or 7-11 owners, mind you, the mom and pop variety you see standing in the middle of nowhere. It’s less expensive for a struggling store owner to buy ten jars of peanut at a ten-for-ten sale than it is to buy it wholesale at a supplier. They mark it up and get a better profit margin. Then I learned c-stores (like that industry lingo?) don’t care about the candy bars or food, anyway. Most of their money is in cigarettes and alcohol, which is the most often stolen product from their stores, and most often the thieves are employees. It’s why some convenience stores have such high employee turnover rates. Also, the reason you can get cigarettes cheaper at a convenience store is the c-store gets a rebate from the cigarette companies, so they can sell below cost and still stay afloat. My husband tells me this may not be typical of every convenience store, so there’s a bit of take-it-with-a-grain-of-salt on this one.
I once met an elderly man in the grocery store who, as I was reaching for a jar of peanut butter, reached around my hand before I could grab the jar and started pulling them off the shelf. After I asked if I could have one, I couldn’t resist asking what he was going to do with all that peanut butter. As he handed me a jar, he said, “Oh, I have a cellar full of supplies. Any time there’s a sale I stock up. You just never know when you’re going to need a lot of peanut butter!” I told Chris I didn’t think that guy was a c-store owner.
- We decided the greatest marketing ploy ever is the “double roll” paper towels and toilet paper. The manufacturers can put more paper goods on a single cardboard tube. If they put twice as much paper on a tube than usual, that eliminates the need for the second tube, which saves them tons of money. But because they’re “giving” you “more”, they can charge a little extra. Big fat bonus for everybody is the “pick-a-size” towels. For one thing, we loooove having choices, especially in this country. It makes us feel like we somehow have control over things. Perforating the paper towels so we can choose a piece a third of the size of a full-sized one allows us to think we are conserving our resources and somehow getting three times as much out of a roll of paper towels than we ordinarily would. We feel good knowing we aren’t wasting anything and we convince ourselves that by having a double roll that we can divide into thirds we’re getting nearly four times our money’s worth. We’re willing to pay a little extra for it because in the end we think we’re sticking it to Brawny. They’re laughing all the way to the bank. It’s a win-win for everybody.
I know. We’re nerdy. I think someone else might think it’s like watching paint dry and wouldn’t understand the pleasure we find in it. I love these morning chats of ours. Besides being mentally stimulating, it means we’re spending time together in the morning and having a conversation that moves beyond the typical “Whatcha got goin’ on today?” conversation. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.