August 19, 2006


A Penny Saved...

For years and years now, one of my favourite things to read in the weekend paper has been this column they run in the Toronto Star. It's called Reader Exchange, and it's the corniest, most entertaining thing in the whole paper. Without fail, there is at least one, and usually more, snicker-worthy entry every week. People write in with their ingenius household recycling/reusing/safety tips, and some are an absolute scream.

It is mind-boggling the extremes some people will go to to save a penny. And listen, I lived with the cheapest, most frugal guy on the planet for over 20 years. My father saved twist ties. He saved 2 inch pieces of string. He saved bent nails.

Today's has some person advocating saving old coffee filters to pick up dog crap with. Oh come on, really? Read further down, someone else thinks you can make a bottle of shampoo last months by adding water over and over. I don't advocate waste. But I'm a huge proponent of common sense.

The column features endless ways to recycle slivers of soap; the best ways to wash out milk bags; removing scuff marks; homemade facials (you don't want to know); getting a stuck cake out of a pan; killing raccoons; you name it, it's been in there. Some of the hints (which are neither tested nor endorsed by the paper) are stupid; some are cruel; some are dangerous; some are so far beyond cheap (separating 2 ply toilet paper so it lasts longer?!) you can't tear your eyes away.

I used to threaten my sister, who lives in Toronto, with this column. I told her I was going to write in some hysterical hint and sign her name to it. The name Sommerfeld is unique enough, and she works in a large enough business field, that it would cause her no end of ridicule. In short, it's the perfect nasty thing to do to her. What could I possibly write that would embarrass her?

My dad used to kill squirrels. Save your indignation. He was an old farm boy, and the squirrels wreaked havoc with his garden. To balance out the karma, I feed squirrels now. Anyway, he'd kill them, and put a nasty gabage bag of dead squirrels out with the garbage each week or two. He preferred winter, for obvious reasons. So I told Roz (aka Liz) that I would have her recommending people with dead squirrels put them in their freezer throughout the summer killing season, until it was cold enough to dispose of them.

I'm just glad my Dad isn't around to take the hint seriously.

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