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May 25, 2009

Ballad of the slimy coupon evader

May 25. Day 329.

I went kayaking on the lake today!!!

That sentence definitely takes three exclamations points. Here's how they break down:

! -- I, as in me, La Roxy, went kayaking. Not some outdoor type, not an athletic pro, nor any of my very adventurous ziplining trapezing rock climbing friends. Little old cafe-a-day meeee!

!! -- I survived!! I thought it would be cold and windy and wet. And deadly. Before we headed out, I read all these tales about hypothermia induced paralysis, capsized kayaks and people who boated too far out to come back. The water in Lake Tahoe is dangerously cold, every website cautioned. Stay away. Only go if you've said your goodbyes. (Ok, the wording was more like "Be careful, it can be dangerous if you're an idiot," but I took the liberty of reading between the lines.)

!!! -- It was totally fun!!! Loved it. Sunny, exhilarating. Would totally do it again. The best part was putting the oars down, gliding along, and listening. And getting soaked!

On the way to rent the boat, I stopped and checked my cell phone for coupons. This has become a regular practice, as long as I remember to do it. Just google the name of the establishment and "coupon" "discount" "special" or "deal." I just flash the screen and down comes the price.

I quickly found something for $5 off a kayak rental.

I presented the cell phone screen.

The guy working the station nodded, started filling out a rental contract, then stopped.

"You know, I can only take on coupon. If I validate your parking, I can't apply this coupon."

"Really? We were told parking validation is a guarantee, not a coupon."

"I know, that's how it seems, but we can't apply two coupons."

"Please? When we validated, they didn't say we couldn't use this coupon." (Fine, I hadn't checked, but worth a try.)

"No, I'm sorry. But your best bet is the validation, that's $7 off."

Technically, no, it wasn't $7 "off." We'd paid for parking, $7, with a promise of a refund as long as we bought something for more than $7 on the resort. So we were supposed to get that parking reimbursed. Hands down. And neither coupon said "Not to be used with any other discount." But forget it. He was mired in his policies, and I wasn't prepared to drive half an hour to the next kayak rental place.

Gained: annoyance at Camp Richardson. Quickly forgot about it once I hit the water.

Later, Mr. A did his own asking:

We stopped at a store selling used skis.

His are ancient, and he's a great skier, so it's high time for an upgrade.

There were some name brand ones (sorry, I forgot what they were! K2 or something like that?) going for $225.

"Would you take $175?" he asked.

"I'd do $200."

Score! He brought the price down $25 in 2 seconds . And I like that he was bold. Didn't go for a conservative 10 percent. Really dug deep. After all, maybe if he'd asked for $200 the merchant would have settled on $215.

Still, Mr. A declined. We walked away, to see if the merchant would agree to the lower price. When he did not, Mr. A decided to hold off, since summer is peak season for buying skis.

His gain: $25.
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