There’s an echeveria succulent on my table at Pint & Plow. Monday morning… a day I actually like even on a workday, which this is not. I gave myself the day off, since I accomplished a work goal last night after a long couple weeks. (“Accomplished.” Seems a dissonant word for a blog about coffee and, soon enough, getting one’s money’s worth at H-E-B using a coupon for Hill Country Essentials paper products. Oh yes, Dear Reader, we are indeed going there. I know you want to, because I know all three of you quite well.)
Yesterday afternoon I went to the “big H-E-B” on Main Street. I say “big,” because we have two H-E-B stores in Kerrville. The other is on Sidney Baker South, and it used to be an Albertson’s. But H-E-B bought it out, because H-E-B in Texas is to Albertson’s what In-N-Out Burger in L.A. is to Whataburger. (Whataburger is not in L.A., as you probably know. Closest it gets is Phoenix, where there are 13. There are only 16 In-N-Out Burgers in the same area.)
So I’m in H-E-B yesterday — good grief, I wish I didn’t have to do that shift-shift-shift thing when I use the capital H, E, and B and the en-dashes in between, but WordPress doesn’t use predictive text to fill in the store name the way my iPhone does. (H-E-B: please buy WordPress. We know you already own Apple.) I’m in heb yesterday, near the end of my shopping list in Aisle 22, where paper products are, and soon to be in shampoos. Let me tell you, Dear Reader, of all the aisles and products in H-E-B, it is the shampoo aisle that most intimidates me. I am less intimidated by parking my cart in Aisle 39 so I can use the nearby restroom. If you don’t know Aisle 39, it’s where the “Maximum Absorbency Underpads” are. IYKYK, as those under 30 say, and since I turn 60 in May, the last thing I want is to return to my cart and find Schreiner College soccer players snickering at me for being next to the underpads. All in due time, my meal-plan friends.
But with 1,454 different shampoo-related items — ranging in price from “worth the cost of what I put in my hair for literally only nine seconds and then wash down the drain” to “Should I buy shampoo or pay off my student loans?” — I opted for VO5, which cost $0.98.
Dear Reader, an iPhone can render the outdated symbol for “cents” when you hold down the “$” key and move your finger one slot to the right, but the MacBook Air keyboard does not, to my knowledge. When you hold down the “$” key on a Mac, it comes out “$$$$$$$$$.” It’s an indication that pennies are increasingly worthless, but the good news is saying, “Well, that’s my two cents’ worth” is increasingly accurate. Imagine when two cents was a lot of money. (People in Colonial America actually gave a damn what you had to say.)
I had not yet had to skim the bottom row of the shampoo aisle looking for products measured in cents and not dollars, and I was in front of the toilet paper and paper towels. I couldn’t remember which we needed; I knew it was one of them. And then I saw a yellow coupon hanging from one of those metal loops that look like they’ve been liberated from three-ring binders. It promised I’d get $2 off my cart if I bought $12 or more in Hill Country Essentials paper products. Well, I figured, we’ll surely need both of those at some point, so let’s go for it. And this brand of toilet paper is much higher quality than say, Scott 1000, which touts “1000 sheets per roll.” This is great marketing, because you need 500 sheets per bathroom visit. So when you buy a 12-pack for a family of five today, you’re headed back to H-E-B for another pack tomorrow at 2pm before school lets out.
I plucked a coupon and after running the shampoo gauntlet headed for checkout.
I had 22 items — more or less — because if there’s a doubt if I have 10 for the self-checkout or 15 for the Express lane, I will count and count again, because the last thing I want is for someone behind me to send me evil looks the way I do to them. As I always quote from the Good Book, “And ye shall surely judge those who are merely doing the best they can in line at H-E-B and expect that when they shall judge you, ye shall surely remind them loudly and clearly and in the presence of others ‘who’s the damned judge and Who is not’.” And attention H-E-B shoppers: doesn’t it make you slightly uncomfortable when the store employee roaming along the congested checkout area tells you to take your overstuffed cart down to the empty Express Lane to ease overall store traffic, and then you start unpacking, all the while worrying that someone with 14 items will show up behind you and you’ll have to use your well-rehearsed line, “Haha! The lady who works here sent me down here. Haha!” And they give you a slightly judgmental stare, so you actually quote for them your life verse.
There actually is a story about the coupon — about how the cashier didn’t ring it up and I was strolling away and noticed that my receipt didn’t show a deduction and by that time I was near customer service and they retrieved the coupon from the cashier and then, checking my receipt to make sure I had bought $12+ in Hill Country Essentials paper products, which I indeed had, handed me two dollars and 13 cents (for the tax) — but what I really want to say is that I just stepped away from the table with the echeveria succulent to use the men’s room and came back to find my computer still here.
It’s Texas after all, not New York City. And then I went to ask for “more” coffee and not “another” one.
Because Texas itself is a “more” kind of place.