Supermarket club cards

I like to think of myself as an empathetic person. So when I signed up for a club card at ____ last week I did it more out of guilt than anything else.
The burden of repeatedly telling the same cashier that "I'm not a member, sorry!" was weighing heavily on me.
Was I offending her? Did she have quotas to meet? Could she get fired because I was too lazy to fill out some paperwork?
Maybe, I thought. So I filed the form, doled out $20 (surprise! there's a buy-in fee!) and received a shiny new piece of plastic in return.
Andrew Martin writes a lot about this experience in "How to Get Things Really Flat." He says whether or not you have a card doesn't matter. You're not really saving money. And if you're feeling guilty about hurting the clerk's feelings ... well, don't. Clerks don't care. You're just another annoyance in their day. Having a card isn't going to change that.
I didn't buy it.
My situation was different, I thought. I mean, I saw this clerk almost everyday. They had to recognize me. And they had to wonder why I never signed up.
So, new card in hand, I entered the store with a (admittedly odd) sense of anticipation today. Was this card going to change everything?
I rushed through my shopping, queued to the same line and eagerly waited to find out.
I may have been lightly perspiring. I was nervous. This was weird. But no time to worry, I was next in line and then ... boom! the big moment of truth.
"Are you a ____ member?" the clerk asked.
"Yes!" I proudly replied. (And I might have flourished the card with a dose of self-righteous bravado before slapping it down on the counter.)
The clerk's hand quickly stuck out. There was no eye contact.
A quick scan, a world-shattering beep! and a blind hand-off back.
The card changed nothing. And I actually felt a little indignant about this, which was really weird. I mean, of course the clerk could give two $#%^s about my membership. What the hell was I thinking? I've worked retail. If there's one rule, it's that every customer, member or not, is an idiot.
How prideful of me to think of myself as anything different!
So it was a humbling experience. But whatever. I saved 35 cents.
And that's only $19.65 to go until I walk my way into epic savings!

Moral of the story? If you're thinking of getting a club card out of guilt ... well, don't.

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