While stumbling around the supermarket the other day, I came upon a woman, approximately my age, holding a bag of baby spinach and looking concerned.
I could tell from a distance that she wanted to talk to someone. I always want to talk to someone so I was happy to oblige and, besides, I'd been heading toward the very same baby spinach for our evening salad.
As expected, she turned to me -- eyes a little crazy, but mine were crazier so it was fine, "Can you believe how much this spinach costs?"
After observing that the price of the spinach had risen substantially since the last time I'd bought it, I took a step backward and answered, "No, do you think it's a mistake?"
But it wasn't a mistake. The prices of all the bagged veggies had gone up.
I realize that bagged vegetables, salad mixes in particular, are a luxury. They are for the lazy (me) who don't want to wash and chop but you pay a price for the short cut. My new friend and I had a fine time bitching about spinach and the state of the economy. We went on to trash Ashton Kutcher, discuss how we hate texting and how disappointed we were to learn that Heidi Klum and Seal are getting a divorce.
We agreed that we really thought that marriage was going to last.
She then made the mistake of asking my advice. She wanted to know how I cope with high prices and wondered how I manage my household budget.
I made the mistake of assuming that, after a mere 15 minutes of conversation, she'd managed to ascertain that I am a madcap kidder so I told her that my strategy is simple: any time you see anything selling for under three dollars -- no matter what it is -- simply buy it.
"Do you ever actually see anything under three dollars, anymore?" I reasoned. "No! So, whether you need it or not, it's automatically a bargain."
Clearly, or so I thought, it was apparent that I was joking but this poor woman stood back and said, "Wow, that's a great idea. I'm going to try it."
It took me another fifteen minutes to convince her that I was kidding. And I'm not entirely sure she finally believed me. I got the impression that she felt I'd given her a brilliant piece of financial advice but decided to withdraw it because it was too good to share.
A few days later, I was poking around in the Dollar Store and actually saw her with a loaded cart. Heading this way and that, she tried to avoid me but, now genuinely worried that my flippant nonsense was going to send her to debtor's prison, I called out, "I really was totally kidding!"
Could it be that this incident has cured me of talking to strangers? Stay tuned.