Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Day 43 of 365 Tiny Changes

Assumptions.  I have never really examined all of the assumptions I make every day. 

Assumptions do make it easier to function, on so many levels.  For example, I assume that my car will start every time I get in it. This gives me comfort and keeps me from worrying that I may be stranded somewhere.  So far, this assumption is working.  My car is a 2001 model, so at some point I may need to change my assumption, or buy a newer model, so that I can keep my assumption in place.

But what if I have assumptions that aren’t working?

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I am all about saving a penny.  Not a dollar, a penny.  Because of this I consider myself a thrifty shopper.  I rarely buy anything that is not discounted, and I love thrift shops.  This doesn’t mean I buy junk.  It does mean, that if I look, there are deals equal to the discounts given on Black Friday, all year long.  I just have to be diligent in my patience and my search for them.

My son swears that he can get better deals than me, any day of the week.  In places I would never think of.  I think he may be right.

He owned a lawn service, for which he was his only employee most of the time.  This meant that he was out working in the heat every day, getting hot and sweaty and dirty.  Really dirty. 

He discovered that if he went to a store, after work, covered in the dirt from the day, he could get better discounts.  Here’s how he did it.

He asked for the discount and then let other peoples assumptions work in his favor.

The first time, it happened in Kroger.  He had worked late, and wanted to pick up something for dinner.  He went to the discount meat section.  It was after the meat department had gone home. 

He had learned that Kroger codes their meat when they discount it.  It is actually discounted 4 times before it is removed from the shelf.  The first time it is just a sale tag added to the original pricing tag.  The 2nd time a bright yellow tag is added and it is coded with an L1.  The 3rd time a new yellow tag is placed over the original yellow tag and it is coded L2.  The 4th time the tag is coded L3.

He also knew that the meat department marks down their meat before 8 AM, every the day.

My son would find a piece of meat in the discount bin.  He would make sure it had some brown on it, where the blood had drained away.  There is nothing wrong with the meat when this happens, it just doesn’t look as good as a nice red piece.  He would take this piece of meat to the service counter at the front of the store.  Remember he would be covered in grass and dirt.  He would tell the service person that there was no one in the meat department, and would then ask if they would be willing to mark down this sad, unpalatable piece of meat, so that he could purchase it.  It worked every time!

He had the same success with the auto repair shop.  When his vehicle broke down, he went to the owner, covered in the dirt from his lawn work and explained that he really needed his vehicle repaired, so that he could earn his income.  In fact, he was desperate to have his vehicle repaired because there were only so many of his customers close enough to walk his lawn equipment to, so that he could fulfill his commitments.

The owner gave him discounts on the labor, and made payment arrangements with him for the two years that my son owned this vehicle.

OK, so he asked and he received.  I have asked, and not received.  My son claims the difference is he “looks” poor.  He “looks” in need of a discount.  I don’t.  I go in dressed in clean, pressed clothes.  My make-up is in place and my hair is just so.  And, I wear earrings.  In other words, I don’t “look” poor.

What an assumption!  Why does one need to look unkept to be poor?  Why if one is groomed well, does one automatically have money?

I thought I had lived through all of the prejudicial assumptions about money.  When I was in my 20’s and new to management, I was discussing, with my boss, the annual raises I wanted to give my staff.  My boss, a female, had the audacity to say that I needed to give the man on my staff a higher raise than I needed to give a woman who was doing a better job and had earned the higher raise.  My boss reasoned that he had a family to take care of, so I needed to take care of him.  While she was married, so she didn’t need the money as much.  What!?

It was the early 80’s, so there were a lot of left over stigmas about women in the work force and not staying home 24/7 with their darling children, so I get where her assumptions were coming from. 

But here we are in 2012 and we are still living with the stigma’s assigned to being poor.  From when, the 1600’s?

This most recent economic downturn, should have proven to us, that there are a lot more poor among us, then those who just don’t groom themselves properly.  Multimillion dollar homes were foreclosed upon, because the owners were suddenly poor after they lost their jobs, and burned through their savings to pay their bills.  They probably still had their nice clothes from when they had money, so I’m sure they still look good every day being poor.  

Since when does being poor mean one has to give up their self esteem and dignity?  What a horrible assumption we make, simply based on the way one grooms themselves.

I’m ashamed that on an emotional level, I too have held this same assumption.  The shame of it is, I know better.  I know that those dirty guys working on the construction sites are probably earning union wage. Some of them are earning $20+ an hour.  My brother is one of them.  He owns 2 houses.

I know the well dressed retail clerk, working at the clothing store, has been told that she is required to wear the clothes her store sells, and must purchase them out of her minimum wage income, just to keep her job.  My sister was one of them.  She and her daughter had to live with my parents, so that she could afford to pay for day care, instead of rent.

The retail clerk sure “looks” more well off then the dirty construction worker.   Well, maybe she’s lucky enough to be married to a construction worker, so we don’t really need to worry about how she’s feeding her kids, do we?

The really sad thing is my assumptions cause me to treat people differently.  I am more willing to hold a conversation with a well dressed stranger, than a dirty, ungroomed stranger.  How about you?

Tiny Change 43:  I will strive to face my unfounded assumptions and treat people fairly.

What unfounded assumptions are you living by?

Best Regards,


Tiny Blessing of the Day:  I am blessed to have nice clothes to wear.

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