The Jedi Master and the Coupon Master

One of the items on The List is “save a substantial amount of money”.

Two things made me think about coupon clipping lately. Number one, I’m broke this month. Andrew’s transition fee at daycare cost as much as a month of tuition, and I already spent a ton of money on medicines for his persistent pinkeye and my persistent clothes shopping. I really need to save some money, so no more ordering Indian food—we had hot dogs and beans the other night. And reason number two is, I ran into a coupon master at the grocery store the other day.

You know how in The Empire Strikes Back, Luke arrives on the swampy planet of Dagobah, and says what a strange place it is to find a Jedi Master? Then Yoda arrives, and he’s tiny and green and annoying—but it turns out, he’s the Master that Luke needs. He will train him in the ways of the force and he will dispense grammatically-weird wisdom. Well, the other day I was at our large grocery store full of people stocking up on summer barbecue fare, and there was this woman in front of me in line. I don’t remember anything about her appearance; she wasn’t talking. She drew no attention to herself, and neither did her husband. Nothing about her affect said “Master”. They were just paying for their mountain of groceries, albeit slowly.

I was getting sort of tired of waiting, and with classic American arrogance I was performing an internal monologue about how people need to hurry up and have their method of payment ready BEFORE THEY GET TO THE CHECKOUT. But then I realized she was handing over coupons. Now my interest was piqued, and the monologue was silenced as I became nosy.
She was handing the cashier paper after little slip of paper—I broke a rule and took a look at the computer screen. It made my eyes bug out like King Julian’s: 100 bucks applied!

This lady had 100 dollars in coupons. She owed the store two dollars for a mountain of food.

I couldn’t stop myself. “How did you do this??”

“They’re just store coupons,” she said with a shrug, barely looking at the nosy stranger behind her.

But I was in awe; she might as well have waved her hand and made all the groceries fly into the wall. And then she was gone, and I was left to pay for my own groceries while the people behind me performed their own internal monologue about nosy women who ask stupid questions in line rather than putting their purchases ON THE CONVEYER BELT OR WHATEVER IT IS CALLED.

I’ll confess I looked for her in the parking lot—she was there, loading plastic bags into the back of a car as normal-looking as she was. She may or may not have had kids with her, I don’t remember. But I know she was older than I was. Her hair was totally gray.

This encouraged me. My hair is only partially gray. I have time to become a coupon master. And maybe when I am, younger women will marvel at my accomplishments and their complaints will dry up as they realize I have the Jedi wisdom of saving money.

Andrew LOVES Master Yoda. He loves to quote his speeches; he loves for ME to quote Yoda’s wisdom to him. He has Yoda toys and a lightsaber that really lights up (sorry—a generic Space Sword. Cuz trademarks.) He likes to hold the lightsaber high in the air and say “Jediiii Matter?” And I say, “Yes, Drew! You’re a Jedi Master!”

Of course being a Jedi Master and being a Christian aren’t really compatible (I’m open to longer discussions on this topic, as I am on most Star Wars topics). Yoda wants Luke to believe in himself and to be totally passive—as a Christian, I know believing in myself is stupid and I CAN’T be passive. Christians shouldn’t “clear their minds”, my mother used to say—something will always want to fill it, why not let Christ and His words fill it?
But Master Yoda still has wisdom. He knows that you have to live in the moment where you’re placed. You can’t be looking at the horizon when you’re supposed to be moisture farming on Tatooine or trying to pull your spaceship out of a swamp. You can’t give in to your aggressive, angry impulses and revenge fantasies. And you can’t decide that something is impossible when you haven’t even tried. This blog owes a lot to Master Yoda’s wisdom on days when I sat there wondering if I should work on that carpet stain again or pick up my Duolingo where I left off. “Always with you it cannot be done,” Yoda would say on the screen, and Drew would giggle and I would listen and get back to what I’d said I would do.

I want to learn the ways of the money-saving and become a Jedi like…that lady ahead of me in line. The Force was strong with her, and she didn’t even know it. Saving money had become such a part of her life that she was surprised anyone else had noticed it. I don’t know how long it took her to get to that point, or what circumstance prompted her. Maybe she was born force-sensitive like Rey. But I won’t forget about this. I will start with something simple and work my way up from there. But I won’t give up, Master Yoda…Master Coupon Lady.

So today, I spent a long time chopping fresh garlic and putting it in a jar because that was one dollar cheaper than buying the jar of minced garlic. Yesterday, I gathered my stash of toddler food coupons and email coupons for meat and combed the aisles for things that would get me the most bang for my buck. I’ve been using those apps that get you points for walking into stores and turn the points into gift cards. I’ve been practicing the ways of the Force and now my hands smell like garlic. It’s lame and a stupid comparison, but Star Wars isn’t real (sorry) and The List is. I have a toddler who loves Star Wars and a husband who ALSO loves Star Wars, so that’s sort of my life right now.

Thanks, team.

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