On the other hand, they might not be so happy if the shopping duties were suddenly to become theirs. But that is not a problem in our household. I helped put myself through college with an after-school and summer part-time job in a Spokane neighborhood grocery, so I learned my way around stores.
Of course, shopping is different now. You usually have to show a piece of plastic to get permission to buy at the best prices, and you often need Superman vision to decipher the fine print on the multitude of savings coupons you have to clip. And curiosities show up unexpectedly as you walk down a stores aisles.
For example, I recently made a rare purchase. Perhaps for only the third time in over 50 years of marriage, I had to buy a box of toothpicks. Thats right. Just a plain old box of plain old flat wooden toothpicks.
For 49 cents I got 750 toothpicks (though I didnt take time to find out whether I had been shorted in the count). With a quick trip to a calculator, I was able to determine that each pick cost me about .0065 cents.
Of course, that doesnt include sales tax, but it seems like a bargain nevertheless. As a matter of fact, I probably could have paid more and not felt put upon.
The trade name Diamond was prominent on the box, and it brought back memories of the huge plant that Diamond used to operate near Coeur dAlene, Idaho, during my boyhood, where timber from the North Idaho woods was converted into matches and, yes, toothpicks.
Then I more closely examined the box, and in small print appeared the words Made in China. Now, I assume that the inexpensive toothpicks were made even more inexpensive by being made in China. But in truth, I would gladly have paid an outrageous one tenth of one cent per toothpick, 75 cents for the whole box, and my budget would not have been seriously compromised, especially since this may be the last box of toothpicks I ever buy.
I was happy a few days later when my wife and I lunched at a local Chinese restaurant very good food and ended our meal with a traditional fortune cookie. There it was, stamped on the cello wrapping the words Made in the USA. So there you have it. Industrial giant USA can no longer profitably produce toothpicks, but weve mastered the art of fortune-cookie making.
Other strange things have happened. Traditional standard measurements have changed. A quart used to be defined as 32 ounces. But now a quart of my favorite mayonnaise is 30 ounces.
A half-gallon, for centuries 64 ounces, now provides 48 ounces of ice cream, a change from the previous 56 ounces. Pity the poor cook who wants to use Grandmas tuna casserole recipe that calls for a 6-ounce can of tuna. Even 5-pound bags of sugar now weigh in at 4 pounds same regular price, though.
And can anyone explain why a famous producer of shredded wheat cereal biscuits can pack its product in three-biscuit packets when a recommended serving is two biscuits?
Oh, well. The market place defies explanation. I bought a South Korean flat-screen TV set made in Mexico and an American brand car made in Canada. Now I drive a Japanese car actually made in Japan, so I know it will never suffer identity crisis.
The only problem? Its a great little car, but its name doesnt sound a bit Japanesey. Go figure.
James Carlson is a retired high school English teacher and 60-year resident of Olympia. A member of The Olympian Board of Contributors, he can be reached at Ohsrm228@gmail.com .