In light of the premier of TLC’s new show Extreme Couponing I feel I need to write a brief defense of myself. I have spent the better part of last week listening to conversations about the show followed by, “Heh, heh, yeah Claire, did you watch it? Is that what you do?”
First, I did not watch the show. I will remind you that TLC is not one of the free channels picked up by our $19 digital antenna. From what I’ve heard, the show might as well be called “Hoarders 2.” The first two episodes of the original “Hoarders” (on Netflix) freaked John and me out so bad we both got nightmares and then woke up in the middle of the night to re-organize our pantry and kitchen cabinets. No lie.
I want to say this about the extreme couponers. I am not one of them. I am not even close to one of them. From all accounts of the show it sounds like these people actually have some sort of a psychological disease.
I realize in many areas of my life I could be considered mildly crazy. However. The people featured on that show are of a crazy I could never hope to achieve. Not only that, but they are making people wrongly assume that I might be one of them. And when I say “people” I really only mean the store clerks and other customers who see the coupons in my hand and with wide eyes, immediately start mentally judging and hating me. Even before this show, I was on the defense with clerks by only shopping at odd hours (when stores are the least busy) and then making fun of other couponers hoping to reveal that I could not possibly be counted as one of them.
“Don’t freak out,” I always say, “I have a lot of coupons. But I’m not one of those psycho-coupon-nut-jobs who’s going to pull a gun on you if one of them doesn’t scan right. Also, I actually plan to use the things I’m buying. I’m not just stocking up on free crap for the high it gives me.” This usually gets me a tentative smile and ultimately better service.
Once in a while though, it gives the checker permission to unleash the checker-fury on all things coupon. Often, he’s squinting at the teeny tiny numbers on my internet printed coupons (which usually won’t scan), methodically typing them in to the register with one hand, and with a smile on his face he’s saying, “Yeah, they line up here at 6:45am with their big crazy binders and fangs and proceed to go wild. Then they come up here and hand me this wad of paper like its money for their crack and hover over my register waiting for it to act up. The minute it does, I’m immediately told what to do as they read from my store’s “coupon policy” and simultaneously ask for my manager. (At this he points to his MGR badge and rolls his eyes.) It’s a little scary. Anything else, Ms. Wait?”
Aside from all the social pressure and condemnation this show is likely to heighten in my already annoying association with such crazies, my biggest problem with this show is similar to my problem with all reality TV. It tells the average viewer “Look, these people are normal people just like you. You can do this too. It is so easy, everyone in the world can be a star!” What this show is going to end up doing, is multiplying the crazies out there.
Dear American Idols (all of you): you are not really as talented as America gives you credit for, and you might actually be the number one reason for the decline in radio listenership. Dear post season 2 casts of The Real World and all casts of Road Rules: there was only one Puck. Stop trying to be him. Dear The Bachelor/Bachelorette participants: you. are. all. pathetic. If any of your relationships actually do work out, the world hopes one or both of you is sterile. And Dear Extreme Couponers: thank you for giving store clerks nationwide yet another reason to hate their lives.*
Thanks a lot TV and Internet, for killing everything that’s fun.
*But, Dear dear SuperNanny: You are the one exception to my Loathe List. Please multiply yourself and come straight to my neighborhood. I could find a home for at least 10 of you.