Free stuff

Friday, October 15, 2010

The perfect storm of freebies occurred this week.

I have to tell you: I like this keep-your-money cloudburst.

Here's what happened:

I took my car to my favorite automobile dealer to have the oil changed. After waiting a respectable amount of time, the service manager told me the car was ready. And, he said, there would be no charge, because every fourth oil change is free.

The next day, I realized it also was time to rotate the tires on the car. So off I went to my favorite tire center. Guess what. Because I purchased some sort of warranty, tire rotations are free.

OK. I'm getting the hang of this.

Since I haven't spent a dime so far, I took the car to my favorite car wash. As it turns out, I had a birthday last month, and the car wash gives out coupons for free car washes to celebrate your birthday. Thank you very much.

On day three, I returned a product that cost over three hundred bucks to one of our big box stores. The product was seriously defective, but I had purchased it three months -- and four days -- ago. As you might expect, the store's policy on returns is within 90 days. But because of the potentially deadly defect, the manager offered an exchange for a replacement or a gift card for the full purchase price. I took the gift card, which must be used up before the end of October. That's OK. My wife and I already have purchased -- for free, of course -- some items we have needed for some time.

Next was a trip to the Osage Community Centre to get our flu shots. They're free for us age-advantaged folks.

We decided to celebrate our lack of spending by visiting one of our favorite restaurants. Because we are coupon clippers, we had a "buy one, get one free" offer. That's a pretty good deal.

At coffee, I related how much free stuff we had accumulated in just a week. And I asked Mark and Scott (turns out they don't like being called "colleagues") for some golf advice, since I was planning a visit to my favorite driving range. The advice was, of course, free. And good.

One of the best free things was last week when Jack Gibbons, an extraordinarily likable concert pianist in town to perform with the Southeast Missouri Symphony Orchestra, gave a couple of lectures at the River Campus that were open to the public. At the one we attended, Gibbons channeled George Gershwin into a Steinway the size of a small school bus. The music was stunning. And it was free.

On my walk home from coffee at Patty Lou's on Wednesday, I found a crumpled dollar bill on the sidewalk. In a week of so much great free stuff, someone was throwing money in my path.

With all this unexpected bounty, can grandchildren be far behind?

OK. We're realistic people. We'll take the free tire rotation and the occasional dollar bill tossed among the blowing leaves of autumn.

It's still a great country.

Joe Sullivan is the former editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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