Dissing The Discount!

By: Dick Wolfsie

Like most of you, I still receive little packets of coupons in the mail. I don’t need my deck painted or my ducts cleaned out, but I am on the lookout for a good restaurant deal.

Not because I am cheap…okay that’s part of it, but mainly because for the first time I want to feel like I actually saved money using one of these offers. Most of the coupons just sit in the kitchen drawer. I either forget them when we leave for dinner or they’re for a restaurant 25 miles from the house.  And it hardly seems worth the effort for a free Bloomin’ Onion. (Excuse my Australian.)

Typically, coupons give you several options, requiring some crafty figuring in order to know how to most efficiently use them, which is why we brought along our adult son who has a year of college calculus under his belt. I just wasn’t sure how much stayed in his head.

“It looks to me,” began my wife eyeing the coupons, “that we can get a free burger as long as someone else also orders a burger, two for one.”

“Great,” I said. “Brett and I will each have a burger.”

“Hold it, Dad. I don’t want a burger. I eat them all the time. I thought you didn’t want me to eat so much red meat?”

“Look, we just have to work together as a family. Okay, Mary Ellen, how about this? If one of us gets an Asian salad, the other gets a salad at half price, as long the second salad is the same or a lesser value. Which salad do you want?

“I don’t like the salads here. I want the fish and chips dinner.”

“You can’t have a fish and chips dinner, Mary Ellen. There’s no discount for a fish and chips dinner.”

“Why are we eating out if we can’t get something we like?”

“Because once, just once, I want to show these restaurants that I am not a fool. They are NOT going to snare me into their trap. WE WILL SAVE MONEY. I don’t care if we hate every morsel.

“Hey, Dad, if Mom gets the $14.95 Cobb salad, this coupon says we get a free appetizer.

“No, that’s exactly what they want us to do. That won’t save us a penny, because we never order an appetizer. So, we don’t gain anything.

“Okay, Dad. Here’s a coupon for a 99-cent draft beer. But you have to order the John Wayne Sirloin for 39.95.”

I was tempted, I sensed growing dissension around the table.

“Here, Dick,” said Mary Ellen, “this part of the coupon says we can get $10 off the check if we spend at least $50.00. Then we can order what we want. And what a concept—you know, enjoying what you eat.”

“No, that would make the final bill $40.00 and I want to keep dinner under forty.”


“I have no idea. It’s just a personal goal I set.”

Twenty minutes later, the waitress finally dared approach.

“We’ll have two spinach salads, one of which one is free. And a tenderloin for my son, who was a consultant on this project.”

“You know, Dick,” said Mary Ellen, “I changed my mind. I think I’ll have the fish tacos.”

The bill was $62.00. I didn’t speak to Mary Ellen the rest of the evening. But I can’t blame the expensive dinner on her. The coupon had expired.

– Dick Wolfsie spent his career sharing his humor, stories and video essays on television, radio and in newspapers. His columns appear weekly in The Paper of Montgomery County. E-mail Dick at Wolfsie@ aol.com.