Wednesday, November 19, 2008

By the Power of Giftcards! (And yes, say it just like He-Man did.)

Triumph of triumphs today: I have succeeded in being the first one in the office and thus got to make the first pot of coffee. I'm hoping this means it won't be vile. Though I'm growing accustomed to vile coffee. I know I bought a coffeemaker so I could make coffee in the mornings but making a pot of coffee for ones lone self seems a little extravagent. I suppose I could measure it out so that there's just enough for me but so far, I haven't quite done that. I drive by a Starbucks every morning. I have a Starbucks gift card that will buy me at least 3 cups of coffee depending on if I decided to go premium or whether I stick to the plain old coffee that they put in those pumpy things at the front of the store when they hand you an empty cup.

Speaking of Starbucks, here's a question for you. I get that using their fancy words for sizes, they set themselves up as a 'fancy' coffee chain. There's short, tall, grande and venti. But doesn't it sound like grande is the biggest? Every time I go in there and I'm craving mass amounts of caffeine and coffee, I plan on ordering the largest. So, without thinking, I generally order a grande. And then I realize, "Oh, wait, it's the venti size I wanted." Grande sounds like a big one. Venti doesn't. Venti actually sounds like a coffee cup with holes in it (if you're me). Like it's trying to air out the coffee or something.

However, since I'm not a frequent Starbucks goer because fancy coffee is a luxury and I don't like to spend almost $5 on a fancy cup of coffee so driving by the coffee shop daily isn't too much of a temptation. Usually.

Except at this time of year. They're tempting me with their pumpkin spice lattes, starting to make me rethink that Christmas doesn't begin until after Thanksgiving because I really love their peppermint mocha, their eggnog lattes and sometimes, even, their gingerbread latte though that one is very sickly and rich and should only be consumed in a tall size. Which again, sounds a bit odd because tall sounds...well....tall and if you just want a small cup of coffee, do you really want it to be tall?

I'm overthinking that. I know.

So far, I haven't succumbed to the call of my Starbucks gift card. I'm notoriously stingy when it comes to spending gift cards in general though. To me, a gift card is a form of power. Whenever you go into the store, browse the website or even smell the coffee of the place for which you have a giftcard, it means you have the power to buy whatever you like. You aren't held back by pesky finances. You don't have to say, "Well, I could buy this new Neil Gaiman collection of short stories but it's $14.99 and I really should save that money for Christmas gifts." You can say "Ha! I have a $25 gift card and a coupon. I can own you, Neil Gaiman...well, at least your short stories...." (then again, I wouldn't mind owning my own Neil Gaiman. He's really funny and charismatic (especially for a writer) and he's got a lovely reading-stories voice. But that would be weird because I'd have nowhere to keep him at the moment and, well, now that I think about it, having a pet Neil Gaiman probably isn't the done thing within society, is it? It'd probably be considered a bit Misery-esque. Ok. Forget I said that.)

The thing is, I don't usually end up buying the Neil Gaiman book or whatever else I had in mind to buy. It's not easy to give up that power that you have in the gift card. I may finally succumb but it takes a few store visits before I decide what I want.

I know, you're probably saying "but you could just as easily buy people gifts with your gift card-isn't that the same concept as spending cash?". My answer is "NO!!!!!". In the immortal words of Mr. Bean "These are MINE!".

Uh, yeah. Generally, I like to think I'm quite generous. But if someone gives me a gift card as, you know, a gift, it's mine. I will spend every cent in my checking account on gifts but that $25 Border's gift card? That. Is. Mine.

There are some exceptions to the "Gift card is power and should not be spent easily" motto I live by. When I was moving from L.A. to Ohio, I received some Shell gas station gift cards from some good friends. Those were very, very useful particularly when you have to fill up your little gas tank every 463 miles or so. I also had a Target gift card from another good friend which is how I bought my coffee maker and blender.

(Speaking of the blender: It scares me. It likes to take walks. It's ok when it's on low but if I press that 'high' button and then try to just starts to move really fast from one side of the counter to the other. If I hold onto it, pressing down, I tend to move with it rather than stop it from walking. There's nothing more alarming than seeing your curried parsnip soup flying across the counter and having to make a dive to hit the 'off' button before it hits the floor.)

But aside from making a big move into a new place, I hoard my giftcards until it's time to spend them. Sometimes that time comes when you just need to shop. Sometimes a book comes out that you really, really want to own in hardcover even though you just read it from the library. With the Power of the Giftcard, the guilt is gone. That book can be yours for the low price of whatever Borders is charging, minus the nifty 30% off coupon you-printed-from-your-email-because-they-stopped-sending-the-even-niftier-text-messages-with-the-coupon-code-attached.

As far as my Starbucks giftcard goes, I'm ok with sharing that one. I mean, if you say "I'll buy you a cup of coffee" and you have a giftcard, that's very cool. Generosity AND smart spending. Nothing wrong with that one. But the Borders one I still have is mine. That's my power. That's my ticket to wandering around the bookstacks of Borders, smelling the new paper and the cellophane of the DVD and CD wrappers and feeling completely and utterly at home. It's my ticket to knowing that I can buy whatever I want (as long as it's not over $25).

So, that's my random musing for the day. And, by the way, the office coffee isn't vile today. It's still Maxwell House which is FAR inferior to Folgers but it's better. I used a lot of coffee though. Strong coffee is good coffee. It may not be good coffee here but, today, at least, it's not vile. Triumph is mine!

Happy Wednesday.

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