Free for Only 10,000 Coupons

Copyright 1990 by Robert L. Gidley. All rights reserved.

Another old piece (as you can tell by the line about smoking cigars being unpopular). I have since (Jan 1998) quit smoking, and it is every bit as miserable as I imagined. I can, however, breath. Anyway, with the imminent tobacco settlement, I don't figure I need to kick the tobacco companies any more (plus, I couldn't find anybody to pay me money for kicking them).

I smoke cigarettes. This is not a particularly popular admission to make these days (although it is somewhat more popular than admitting to smoking cigars), but it's true. And, before you ask, no, I am not stupid. Nor am I illiterate. I have read about the hazards from smoking (lung cancer, setting the bed on fire, catching pneumonia from smoking outside). I know that it is not good for me.

So why do I keep doing it? Why don't I just up and quit? Unfortunately, I haven't been able to come up with any pat answer for that. Also, unfortunately, non-smokers who ask that question expect a pat answer. Although I expect that whatever answer I came up with they would find problems with. ("The doctor says I have three months to live." "Well, then you should quit and enjoy your health while you have it.")

Now, however, I have found a reason to keep on smoking. I can get keen prizes! Just for smoking!

You see, there is a certain brand of cigarettes (which I won't name because they're not giving me any money) that includes coupons with every pack. You can collect these coupons and send them away for "valuable gifts" (it says so right on the coupon).

I happened to buy a carton of these cigarettes because they were $2.50 off the regular price (cigarette smoking is also an expensive habit). Since I never had the opportunity to collect green stamps, I started saving these coupons.

Pretty quickly I had what looked to me like a fairly substantial collection of coupons (almost three cartons worth). So I called the toll-free number and ordered the catalog.

When the catalog shows up, it is just chock full of keen stuff. I can get three little ceramic ducks for only 1,375 coupons. Or a pair of geese wall planters for only 1,275 coupons. Or a tropical ice shaver for only 2,875 coupons. We're talking cookware, bathware, small appliances, fans, you name it.

I can even get a smoke detector for only 1,350 coupons (and a fire extinquisher to go with it for only 2,650 coupons). Somehow, this seems strangely appropriate. After you've set the bed on fire with your cigarette, you can use the valuable gifts to help put it out again.

I can also get all sorts of manly outdoor things like Fishing Sunglasses (which fish probably find so much more attractive than regular sunglasses that they leap up out of the water and into your boat), power tools, and bowling balls. Because the bowling balls are kind of spendy (coupon-wise) at 6,125 coupons, I also have the option of sending in 1,550 coupons and $33 to get a red, pearl, charcoal, or blue bowling ball (specify one color only, please).

I can even use my coupons to get toys for the kids and for the nursery. I can just picture some mother chain-smoking to get enough coupons to buy a stroller for the baby, while Dad is pounding them down with his eye on that bowling ball.

It's also interesting what isn't in the catalog. There are no ashtrays (maybe they figure you already have enough ashtrays). And there's only two cigarette lighters listed.

But I already saw what I'm going to get. A VCR with a remote and all kinds of cool features, like a cable compatible tuner. And for only 44,975 coupons. Let's see, I get two coupons per pack of cigarettes, plus a bonus six coupons if I buy a carton. So that's 26 coupons per carton. It will only take me 1,730 cartons of cigarettes to get a VCR.

At a pack a day, that's a little over 47 years. That seems a bit long to wait for a VCR. Of course, if I increased my cigarette consumption slightly (say to 5 packs a day), I could have my VCR in only nine and a half years. By that time, they might even have cable in my neighborhood.

I wonder how many coupons I need to get an iron lung?


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Copyright 1989 by Robert L. Gidley. All rights reserved.