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Feeling Hungry I would then consider lunch and look around for shop that advertises half price lunches or one that I have a coupon for a free drink from. Back on road it would be off to Department Stores to act upon all those incentives that came with my Credit Cards. The first one and I come out with freely given set of Cooking Pots that I do not need but because I have a Visa Card I must not ignore. The next store suggests that I spend over 400NT Dollars in Store and then they will give to me an Electric Fan. Armed with my fan and set of cooking pots and 400 Dollars worth of food I enter last Department Store in area.
Umbrellas here today, a free umbrella because I have a Visa Card? Yep, but how am I going to fit it into umbrella stand back home as that is filled and squashed full with hundreds of other similar products received previously. Never rains in winter in Southern Taiwan anyway. But it is free!
Overloaded with products and wishing that it would rain I now have to buy some milk. Yes buy, as we actually need some milk back home. Entering Supermarket I am glad that at last I am doing something worthwhile, that I am not after a free gift or extra stamp and that I am just doing what I would like to do: to buy something. Was I ever so wrong!
I hate shopping for milk. Standing at Milk Fridge I am bombarded from all sides by various ladies trying to attract me to their milk product. Each one offering tastes and price reductions, waving bottles in my face and cornering me, isolating me from outside world. Buying milk is not easy, it is an exercise in patience and perseverance, don’t lose control or you will be pulled under. Best to stand far away from fridge and out of sight, put your eye on product that you want and then charge towards it, grab it and make a fast getaway. If that is, at all possible?
I left supermarket with my milk, cartons of blueberry yogurt issued freely with that brand that had been chosen for me and feeling sick on samples that had been forced down my throat! I also left cursing myself for buying reduced ‘larger’ sized carton when all I wanted was a little one.
That is Milk buying!
Anyway, time to go back home and drop of all purchases before buying that much needed drink that had Five Dollars off - if I bring token along.
Drink in hand my computer program now tells me that it is time to go to large supermarket to get a free blanket on my visa card! Buy a carton of Orange Juice because they are on promotion – buy one get one free. Then onto out-of-town department store to get their visa card because today they are offering free teddy bears. Won’t get one today but I will be ready for next time.
Yes, I could go on and on and on. And if you think about it these “freebies” and quest to get them could control your life. On a certain day you must go to a certain shop, on a certain day you must eat a particular food – simply because they are freebies included or are on special offer.
It is not that bad. I do not have a computer program – only imagining my little notice board becoming one. I think I will keep notice board as it is and maybe at New Year just throw everything away and start again.
In reality life is not like possibilities opened up above. Ninety percent of life is lived normally and whilst ignoring all free incentives that come your way. Only by accident do we pick up on freebies and like cheese they are mostly unplanned. Even if one is to pick up on gifts it does not seem to be what you require or save you money in long-term. The pans and plates that we obtained through Department stores seem to rust very quickly or crack for unknown reasons, blankets are all nylon and feel itchy and shopping bags seem to have big holes in bottoms after one use.
The food situation is often a lie. Take for example con that we entered into in Kenting, holiday resort. Kenting is a lovely place and although a bit expensive it is well worth escape from Big Smoke of Kaohsiung. Walking along my wife and I saw this large notice that advertised a 199NT Dollar meal complete with Soup, Main Course, Dessert and a drink. At that price it was a bargain and I looked forwards to Steak and my wife some spicy chicken wings as advertised. Oooh, ah!
Sitting down in restaurant attentive staff brought us our free drink of choice. But upon opening menu all did not seem, as it should. My steak alone cost a minimum of 450NT Dollars! Upon enquiry waitress informed us that 199NT Dollar meal was only for lunch and that we should have looked at small print on notice outside. Small Print? Need a magnifying glass for that.
Well, we looked at each other, my wife wanting to storm out and go somewhere else and I just wanting to finish my beer and then to wander off. I won and I ordered some Taco Chips with cheese to go with drinks. Taco Chips with Cheese? Not really very hard to make as far as this restaurant was concerned as all they did was open a packet and pour contents into a bowl. One packet of crisps cost us 180NT Dollars, drinks that were not free brought bill to nearly 500NT dollars and we had not even eaten yet.
So beware of cons, they are always out and about!
The house back home is filled with these free gifts and I am tripping over them everywhere. I cannot sell them as everybody else has same problem and throwing them out seems to be such a waste. If possible it is best to use them and hope that they fall apart or wear themselves out in time. The only actual items that I have found to be of any use are tissues, boxes and boxes of them obtained free everywhere I go. I do feel that all free tissues I have received will allow me to never buy another packet again and they of all things have shown a saving in money. Those and latest handy-sized traveler’s bag that I got from Department Store!
Remember: “Nothing is for free” but then again never kick a “Free Gift Horse in Mouth”.
Ieuan Dolby is the Author and Webmaster of Seamania . As a Chief Engineer in the Merchant Navy he has sailed the world for fifteen years. Now living in Taiwan he writes about cultures across the globe and life as he sees it.