When I was in college in California, I worked briefly at the Clinique counter selling cosmetics at an upscale department store, I. Magnin. Clinique offered a promotional giveaway twice a year called Gift With Purchase, or GWP. If a customer spent a minimum amount, say $30, she would qualify for the “free” gift (a pink lipstick, sample-size hand lotion, pressed powder, waterproof mascara, and extra-emollient eye cream, all in a lovely cosmetics bag with a soothing green floral print) which would have a supposed value of $50.
Yesterday, I took my car to the repair shop because it was “making a funny noise.” I am not a big fan of funny noises, especially when they are coming from my primary mode of transportation. Sure enough, the mechanic called me several hours later to say, “Brakes. You need new brakes. That’ll cost $985.”
I wanted to throw down the phone in disgust and say, “Are you out of your mind—$985? Who has that kind of money just laying around? Brakes aren’t sexy, no one will even notice that I spent that much! If I got a fancy new watch for $985, I would at least get a lot of compliments! I refuse to pay it! It’s a rip off! I hate you!”
What I said instead, “That sounds great. Do you take American Express? And what time will the car be ready to pick up?”
I went over there exactly three hours later. The car was completely out of gas and filthy with empty water bottles, candy wrappers, and other random trash all over the inside, exactly as I’d left it.
The manager cheerfully swiped my credit card through the machine and I signed the receipt. I fondly thought back to my Clinique days, and wondered why the car repair shop did not fill up my tank or detail my car. $985 should get you a Gift With Purchase.
(“Mom’s Overpriced Vehicle”)