So…I Scratched My Spending Itch

I wasn’t going to buy it. Okay, I was going to buy it, but I stopped myself. I have a perfectly usable office chair with a mesh back at home, in front of my desk, and it does all I require, which is support my weight and swivel.

But, it is old. Is it old? When did I buy it? July 2018. That’s, two and a half years. That’s not that old. The mesh on the chair arms is worn and it’s torn on the back of the chair. I’m hard on chairs. It stopped reclining for a few months, and that’s when I started thinking I needed a new chair. But, the landlord raised the rent in December of 2019, then COVID arrived, and a new desk chair seemed unnecessary. So, I didn’t buy one.

I was in Costco, two weeks ago (but it feels like last week), and there sitting in the aisle, where weak-willed casual shoppers like me – who can’t stick to their shopping lists – would see them, was a new all-mesh office chair. Whereas my old one only had a mesh back, this one has a mesh seat, as well. It swivels, the height adjusts, the arms raise, just as I would expect. But, best of all it was $99.99.

I had done some online window shopping, on and off, and a decent chair normally costs at least $120-$150. So, this was a bargain. But, still…I was trying to control myself, restrain my free-spending impulses, resist the Buying Jones and it would go away. My big ticket purchase hadn’t happened, yet – although that Ninja coffeemaker still dances in my mind – and I was trying to prevent it. It scratched at me, nagged me, like my old cigarette habit after a good meal. But I rebuked it, and myself for being a materialistic capitalist, and escaped from every encounter with my money in the bank.

I had come to Costco for bananas, green beans, bell peppers. Healthy stuff. They are in the back of the Costco warehouse, of course, so you can walk past a pretty, sparkly thing you shouldn’t buy, and don’t need. You just want to see it in your house and imagine you have the same kind of life of people who have a legitimate use for it. Well, I headed for the back of the warehouse, with a small voice saying I was going to come back for that chair, if I couldn’t find a cheaper one on Amazon of the same quality.

And, that just about broke me then and there, but I had a lot of groceries to get and no way to juggle two shopping bags and a desk chair, so I just left the chair and returned home with my vegetables and my money, and a foot-long hot dog and diet lemonade.

And, I thought I was good until this week. I thought I was fine, emotionally mature and in control, but I got on the bus with the full intention of putting that box containing the desk chair on a cheap plastic dolly I have had at home for almost ten years, and walking from Costco back to my apartment with it – which solved two problems: not having to wrestle the chair and the dolly onto and off the bus, and also getting my 10,000 steps in for today.

There is a donut shop next to Costco’s and I often walked there and back, when I wanted more than 10,000 steps. So, against my other judgment, the one I have never had, the one that would only buy what’s on my shopping list, which I have never done, I bought the chair (and Brussel sprouts and broccoli florets and sardines, on sale, and a sandwich and salad for tomorrow’s lunch, all of which fit into my backpack). $153.

Then I went to the donut shop and bought a large cinnamon bun and an apple fritter – and two glazed donuts.

That’s how it goes. After I succumb to the Buying Jones, I buy something sweet and luxurious to celebrate and leap off the fitness wagon for a minute.

There’s a lesson in all of this, but I have yet to learn it.

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