January 1, 2013 8:16 pm Published by
    Justified or not, I bear a reputation for frugality. My wife feels it is justified…I feel it is not. In any case, I will admit that I have, at the very least, a dichotic relationship with money- or more precisely – parting with it. I generally think little about the price of menu items when at a restaurant, yet I will agonize over purchasing Campbell’s chicken broth instead of the no-name variety that might save me 50 cents. It’s a pattern that permeates the rest of my life as well.

Each Christmas, it has become our family tradition to attend a production of the Nutcracker. On occasion, when it is being presented locally, we stay home. This year, much to the delight of my family, our only option was the National Ballet of Canada production in Toronto. So this, together with an overnight stay in downtown Toronto, became my Christmas gift to my family. One could use many adjectives to describe the evening we enjoyed…’cheap’ would not be among them. And while theater has never been my first love, the joy it brings to the rest of my family makes it a worthwhile venture all-round. So far so good. Surely this ought to have been a huge step toward shirking my ‘cheap’ moniker. Alas, the weekend consists of more than one night.

We got an early start the next day, so we could have a nice breakfast…as well as pick up our dog from the kennel- all before 11 am, (Failure to do so would subject us to an extra days fee which I was determined to avoid). As luck would have it, the Cora’s in downtown Toronto is situated directly across the street from a parking lot that was all-but-abandoned on a Sunday morning. Unfortunately, the parking lot attendant was either unfamiliar with or unsympathetic to the laws of supply and demand, and wanted $10 for parking in his empty lot. At this point my first vice ‘cheap’ intersected with my second vice ‘stubborn’. As street parking was sure to be plentiful at this hour, I suggested to my family that they get out of the car and get a table at Cora’s while I parked the car for free. They nabbed a table by the window and had a front-row seat as Dad circled the block over and over looking for the ‘free and plentiful parking.’ The measure of time in which it takes rational thought to overcome stubbornness was, in my case, roughly 15 minutes- at which point I pulled back into the same parking lot with my tail firmly between my legs, (hoping the attendant wouldn’t recognize my blue 7-year-old Honda Pilot). I paid the $10 and joined my family for a lovely (if hurried) breakfast.

Bill paid and back on the road, I did a quick calculation of time, average speed, and distance to travel and determined that a best-case scenario would get us to the kennelby – yes – 11:15 am. Another quick calculation reminded me that the kennel’s late penalty fee was significantly greater than the parking fee I had been so reluctant to pay. I had brought new meaning to ‘pennywise and pound foolish.’ Sadly, I found myself on the latter half of the equation. On the bright side, I had an opportunity to hone my groveling skills as I pleaded for leniency at the kennel. Fortunately, both the kennel and my dog showed leniency. My family however, still thinks I’m cheap.

Thanks for reading.

Jeff Neumann

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