Gift certificates get used in last minute flurry

Although gift-giving and receiving are not in my love language vocabulary, if I have to receive a gift, there is nothing more exciting than a gift certificate. Some memorable ones have been for favorite restaurants, a visit to a masseuse and a haircut. Others appealed to my frugality: Goodwill and Cheap Flicks.

I think merchants like gift certificates and gift cards, too, because with them comes the distinct possibility I will never get around to redeeming them, which translates to pure profit via upfront payment. What’s not to like about that?!

Running the gift certificate/card gauntlet can be difficult. You open the envelope containing a gift certificate or card, then promptly set it down somewhere or drop it, if not instantly lose it among the wrapping paper scraps from the other presents.

There’s an unwritten rule such items are never found until AFTER you have picked through mounds of disgusting coffee grounds, potato peelings, dirty diapers, discarded casseroles and catbox droppings in the garbage, which seems to prompt the epiphany, “Oh yeah, I stuck it in the phone book drawer to get it off the kitchen counter.”

In the rare event my gift certificate survives initial misplacement, my next careless move is to “wisely” tuck it somewhere so absolutely safe (Maybe I should put it in my safe!) that I won’t locate it again until the next time I move.

On the outside chance I don’t misplace or too-safe-a-place it, I will forget to put my gift certificate in the glovebox of my vehicle, a location that would give me direct access when I am in the vicinity of where to use it. Typically, I will drive past that establishment, clueless and gift cardless, at least 29 times during the year for which a gift card is good, then have to take a day off work to drive 29 miles out of my way to redeem it the day before it’s set to expire. Can I have an Amen?!

Maybe I was a delusional when I said gift certificates were a good thing. Clearly not in my careless, irresponsible, procrastinating hands! You’d be better off to go to the restaurant yourself, eat one of the two pork chops on your plate and drop off to me on your way home a doggie bag with the remaining chop. It would be easier than teaching this old dog new tricks!

The good, well-intentioned people at my church could not have known the worthless ways of their Sunday service pianist when they generously gifted me last Christmas with a gift certificate. As scripted, I promptly lost it, found it, then tucked it out of sight and mind for nine months, followed by forgetting to put it in my vehicle for another two, which brought me to needing to use it in the 11th month/hour.

Finally, I entered cautiously the store where I was to redeem the gift certificate. I knew by reputation the place sold ornamental plants, carried pet food with brand names I can’t correctly pronounce, and is frequented by people who refer to their riding lawnmowers as “garden tractors.” As someone whose family grows corn, feeds off-brand pet food and drives real tractors, I doubted they had anything useful.

POISONS GALORE - There is nothing more grounding in an upscale store than to find poisons galore!

POISONS GALORE – There is nothing more grounding in an upscale store than to find poisons galore!

Walking past cutesy displays of homemade jams and impractical lawn ornaments, my spirits sank. Toto and I weren’t in Kansas anymore and it’s doubtful we could afford the dog food. Then, rounding a corner, a yellow brick road rose up, shining, in the form of bright yellow rodent poison products, a language in which this farm kid is fluent!

I’d never seen such a comprehensive display of poison baits, sticky traps and other ways to dispose of unwelcome houseguests. I selected special-fuse lighted underground mole gassing sticks that paid homage to Bill Murray’s “Caddyshack” character dynamiting the whole golf course to kill one gopher, and a live wire cage trap that would allow my cats to terrorize unlucky farmhouse mice about to meet their demise.

How I spent my gift certificate would probably disturb my church congregation far more than my nearly forgetting to redeem it. At least they’ll know who to call the next time a bat terrorizes the sanctuary.

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