144 Rolls of Toilet Paper

I have out done myself in the crazy department. This is what word problem nightmares are made of. I’m sure we all remember getting those problems and wondering “who’s ever going to make 20 dozen cookies? Who is ever going to buy 174 oranges? I’m never going to use this stuff in real life.” Well, you’re wrong! Because I just got my shipment of 144 rolls of toilet paper from Amazon.

As a frugal woman, comparison shopping is second nature. Budget conscious folks want value for our dollar so we don’t blindly throw money at any particular brand or store. Our loyalty is to the green, not the brand. So when I went on BJ’s website and saw that a 45-pack of mega rolls was $23, but Amazon had the same brand in a 48-pack for $21 (3 more rolls for $2 less), it was an easy choice. However, there’s a catch to any good deal and in this case, it was shipping costs. Since I’m not a Prime member*, I needed to have a minimum purchase to qualify for free shipping. But I wasn’t about to start adding random unnecessary things to my cart to qualify. What’s a girl to do? How about getting 3 48-packs**? Don’t mind if I do! (Word problems for your kids: how many dozens is that and what is the square root of the total rolls delivered?)

After the boxes were delivered, I was grateful for the incredible amount of storage space we have. I saved money, time, gas and set myself up for a year’s worth of clean lavatory experiences. This might have been one of my craziest purchases, but at least we know that if you have the misfortune of running into some as chili, my house is the place to be.

*I’ve been using Amazon since undergrad where I bought my books and sold them back at the end of the semester. I also used them to rent books in grad school. So I’m an avid user, but I’m not interested in Prime. Their biggest advantage is the free 2-day shipping and it costs nothing to plan ahead and wait a few extra days to get my order.

** No recommended for ketchup purchases.

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Friday Fail: Catching the Ferry

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My last couple of posts talk about our weekend in the Hamptons with a high school friend and her husband. As I anticipated, it didn’t take much for me to find another fail, and that weekend away provided just the opportunity for that.

If you know anything about Long Island, you’ll know that this name was not selected at random. The island is truly long. This makes it very hard to drive along the length of the entire island to get through Connecticut. As someone who is always looking for the best price and ways to cut costs, it did not sit well with me that I would pay $79 each way to get on a ferry when there’s a driving option. But with anything in life, a cost benefit analysis is crucial. Taking the ferry cut 3 hours off our trip and reduced our driving by over 150 miles. I decided to not be penny wise and pound foolish. My time is more valuable than the difference between the ferry cost and gas costs. Considering there are 2 of us in the car, that’s 6 hours of our time.So I reluctantly included the $160 expense as part of our getaway budget.

After spending a fun time having a good food and enjoying even better company we bid farewell to our friends, we got on the road to catch the ferry.  I programmed the destination on the GPS and went on the website to make a reservation. There were 42 spaces left on the boat, so we were essentially were pretty much guaranteed to find a seat. Next, I checked the schedule. The last boat out is 8 pm. If you miss that boat, you’re either sleeping on Long Island or you’re driving all the way around to get to the “main land”. I take a look at the GPS and our estimated time of arrival (factoring in for traffic) is 8:15. I look at my husband in sheer panic and I growl: “Step on it!”

I don’t know what it is about this place, maybe it was the nice weather on that particular weekend, maybe it’s part of their culture, maybe it was all in my head, but it seemed like everyone was driving 10-15 miles below the speed limit. We changed lanes, we prayed, we took it easy when we were lucky enough to spot a speed trap. But between the read lights and the slow locals, I realized we had only picked up about 3 minutes. Our new adjusted ETA was 8:12. I had a death grip on the door handle and I decided to call the customer service number on the website to get some additional information. I don’t know what else I was hoping for. Maybe if I talked enough I could stall them? In any case it turns out that the information that I received from the woman manning the phones did the opposite I anticipated. She created more concerns with the following information:

a) I could order a ferry ticket over the phone (which should eliminate me having to stand in line), however, I needed to be at the desk to pick up the physical ticket 15 minutes prior to departure time.

b) If I couldn’t make it, before the 15 minutes, I could call and have the ticket canceled for a full refund (win!) BUT, if I missed my chance to call and didn’t register 10 minutes before the boat left, they would cancel the ticket and charge me the full price.

Oh ok great. No big deal. Earlier, I needed to make up 15 minutes of time but turns out it was really 30 minutes. In fact, if I didn’t want to lose $79, I needed to know well in advance whether or not I was going to make it. And if I was wrong about that, I could lose my spot on the boat, if they’re sold out, even if I do make it on time. Hold on, let me grab my crystal ball so I can figure all of this out, right after I predict the next natural disaster, along with advising President Obama of Russia’s next move and changing my retirement portfolio allocation based on what the stock market will do.

At this point I’ve nearly lost hope but neither one of us is the kind to give up so we keep going. Maybe there’ll be some mechanical problems or they’re not fully staffed. It would be a miracle but were hoping that something will happen. But strangely enough, while the GPS says we have 17 miles to go with an ETA of 8:12 pm, we come upon this sign that says: Ferry, 1000 feet. We make a right and we are on the dock!

How did this happen you ask? Well, it turns out that, while I looked at the correct website and talked to the right people, I programmed an incorrect address into the GPS. We spent most of the ride alternating between worried silence and cursing the locals for their slow driving, but we were always going to make the last boat out. We not only made it, we made it with over 20 minutes to spare and we were the 4th car in line to get in.

Don’t let me feel bad alone… share your own fails!

Friday Fail: The Confidence of Youth

I decided to start a Friday Fail series. The idea came to me because, I know that not only do people like a good embarrassing story, but also because I think talking about our major fails, and being able to laugh at ourselves truly empowers us. There’s just something refreshing about not taking yourself too seriously 100% of the time. Also, I’m confident that I have enough failures in my past, big and small, to keep this going for a while.

When I was in high school I got an internship at a major bank through a program for students interested in finance. It was awesome and it was a paid position. I was working 40 hours a week for the entire summer, making $2 above my state’s minimum wage, and I felt rich! I had never have access to so much money at once. What happened one morning could only be explained by saying that, all the disposable income must have gone straight to my head, making me feel like Hercules.

That day, I got to work around 8:30 like I normally did, and got settled at my desk. I checked my email to see if any of my friends, who also got summer jobs, made it to work before I did had sent me a few emails. After exploring Google for a while (it was in its infancy!), I got up to get a drink of water. Surfing the net is hard work and can dehydrate you! To my despair, the water cooler was empty and being the absolute princess that I am, no way I was drinking tap. I decided to change the gallon myself. I mean how hard could it be?

I put away the empty gallon and grabbed a new one. From the moment I pulled it out from the crate, I knew I was making a big mistake. I thought about putting it back, but my mouth was feeling like I had been chewing cotton for hours, and I really needed a drink. I guess I could have asked one of the guys who sat in close proximity to the break room, but I’m a strong independent woman with a job! I’m paving a path for a career in banking! I am no weakling! So I ripped the seal and took the cap off. Once I did that, there was no turning back.

So here I am, 16, no upper body strength, 5’2″, 110 pounds, faced with a simple task to be accomplished in the following sequence: 1) lifting a 5 gallon jug of water up to my chest 2) tipping it over the cooler without spilling anything 3) and lowering it slowly down to my waist level until it was in place. “What could go wrong”, you ask? Everything.

First, I lifted. But my arms shook. Then I tipped it, but my arms shook more. The trembling arms caused me to miss the hole and it all went downhill from there. I heard the splash before I saw it, so I over corrected by pulling the gallon towards me. The force of doing that, combined with the weight of the jug, threw me off balance and knocked me straight on my ass into a growing puddle. Finally, enough water had escaped the bottle in favor of the ground for me to be able to put the bottle upright.

As I sat on the vinyl floor wondering how long it would take for my underwear to dry, I didn’t give much thought to how much commotion I had caused until someone rushed it saying: “oh my! What happened?!?” I must have been quite the sight. But I guess there wasn’t much explanation needed, because he looked at me for about 15 seconds before saying: “you could have just asked me.”

I was grateful he didn’t say anything else on the topic, at least not that I know of. But my gray slacks weren’t so discreet. Everyone could tell by the wide wet spots that I had an “accident”.

I don’t know how, but I did manage to get myself hired for one more summer before college.