EDITOR'S COLUMN: Make room for another grocery card

I found room in my wallet for another plastic card last week, this one from Albertsons where I happened in to buy some doughnuts only to be handed a card by the kid at the one register in use that time of morning. He also gave me a form and told me to fill it out some time. But now that I’ve got the card, forget the form. I’ll be an illicit Albertsons “Preferred” card customer, with a card but no name or telephone number attached. After all, the rules clearly allow it: “If you’re uncomfortable giving out personal information, we’ll still give you an Albertsons Preferred Savings Card.” All I’m foregoing is a chance to win sweepstakes, receive special offers and have my keys returned to me if I leave them in the store. No worry there, because I always leave them in the car, hoping someone will steal it. Alas, Oak Harbor thieves have better taste than to take my vehicle.

One nifty thing about the Albertsons card is that you can opt for a narrow version with a hole in it, which makes an instant keychain. I don’t need a keychain, so I’ll put it on my dog’s collar, hoping anyone who finds him will take him to Albertsons where they might give him a deal on pig’s ears.

Several years ago I obtained my first grocery store card, allowing me into the Safeway Club. In this case I did give them my address and telephone number, but they haven’t bothered me at all. It must be what I purchase — an eclectic hodgepodge of foodstuffs that couldn’t be categorized by the Rain Man. Safeway’s computer can’t figure out what I eat, so I’m spared the special offers.

Safeway must be aghast that the Albertsons card has a keychain use, while Safeway’s is just a card. No doubt Safeway technicians are right now working on the toothpick card, skin planer card or maybe the dog tag card. A corporation that lags in card technology will not long stand.

I don’t mind grocery store cards because I surrendered in the war on privacy years ago when we needed to obtain a credit card to rent-to-own our eldest daughter’s saxophone. I bought a house without a credit card, but we couldn’t rent a sax without one. Years later, when the sax was paid off at quadruple the original price, we learned it was worthless all along. It sure sounded good when our kid was playing it, though.

Once you’ve got a credit cards your life’s secrets are out, so why not go with the flow? Any CIA operative tasked with perusing my purchases would use his Albertsons card to slash his wrists out of boredom. There’s nothing there to link me with anything, except crummy musical instruments. Today I’m happily transparent with one credit card, two bank debit cards, two grocery store cards and one library card.

Grocery store cards are great because you no longer have to clip in-store coupons, or wait for the clerk to process the 150 coupons turned in by the fellow in front of you. One scan and all the bargains are recorded, and you know exactly how much you saved. I want my final total on my tombstone: “Jim Larsen, Safeway Club member, $2,305.17 in lifetime savings, died anyway.”

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