Monday, February 28, 2005

Rantings on a Kind

John G. Wendel and his sisters were some of the most miserly people of all time. Although they had received a huge inheritance from their parents, they spent very little of it and did all they could to keep their wealth for themselves. John was able to influence five of his six sisters never to marry, and they lived in the same house in New York City for 50 years. When the last sister died in 1931, her estate was valued at more than $100 million. Her only dress was one that she had made herself, and she had worn it for 25 years."

When you type "The most miserly people" in Google, this is what comes up. What drove me to this point you will wonder. Was I expecting a list to show up as the answer?..Maybe I was. I am not into hoarding this kind of information. And I wouldn't want to stereotype. I really don't care to do that sort of a thing till I have a valid statistical sample size. And even after years of running into some perfectly well-off people penny-pinching in the most weird and imaginative ways, I refused to categorize them or criticize them. But then everything has its limits.

I thought I had seen the worst when I bumped into this girl in Grad school who pinched packets of ketchup from the school food court, till I ran into this other specimen who just downed packets of half-and-half while the rest of us stuffed our faces with eggs and waffles and pancakes during breakfast. She NEVER ordered anything. I swear she lived on half-and-half for breakfast for at least 2 months...till I thankfully found better people to hang out with. I figured maybe it was just Grad school and the general lack of money that seems to accompany that stage of life. Till I started work and found out that this particular disease spares no section of the population. When it strikes, it really strikes. My neighbor would tear his kitchen-towel squares into quarters, to limit usage. It really worked because the pieces were so small nobody found them useful any more. And it's not as easy to reach for a stack of neatly squared 4-by-4's as it is to reach for the usual Bounty-roll that your eyes frantically seek after a spill. This guy was beat hollow by a friend's friend who actually (I discovered this by accident) reused his garbage bags. Yes, he actually walked over to the huge disposal shoot, emptied his bag and then took it back!!!!

So my sample size was increasing...

We have these friends we do dinner with all the time...the husband is always in Johnston&Murphy shoes and a Burberry shirt, unless it's a fancy place we are meeting up at, in which case he really dresses up. The wife loves Wal-Mart clothes, but only once in a while, as a treat. Needless to say they maintain separate accounts. Picking a place for dinner might be difficult under normal circumstances, but as was recently revealed, it's really easy. The husband gets to choose as he pays (the separation of thy accounts is not altogether fair you see)...and if there's an argument it's quickly settled as the wife uses the surefire comeback "Then I'm not coming!!!” ... The husband eager to have a social life of some sorts has learned not to go there. The amazing thing is misers are not just hoarders of their own money; it breaks their heart when others spend theirs too. But anyways, I'm steering off the chosen bitching-path, let me focus. Here's a snippet of a conversation:

J's husband: "....And then I'll like some Venerable Very Rare Sherry with my dessert please...”
No really, that's the name of the sherry.
Lots of nudging from J.
J: "I'm not hungry."
J's husband: "Order something J...”
He's always taking good care of her. She's always rolling her eyes.
J: "NO. There was free food at the seminar I was attending. I ate there."
Angry voice.
Me: (Changing topic deftly) So what's the plan for the weekend guys? What are ya'll doing tomorrow?
J: "My husband better not drink. He has to wake up at 7 AM to do laundry"

See now my husband and I have fooled ourselves into believing we can afford to get our laundry done at the local laundromat..(Sweet Chinese woman washes, dries, folds and what-not) as we are after all in the DINK stage. Every Sunday though, my man makes very sorry noises while sitting in front of that Microsoft Money sheet and insists we CANNOT afford all this...but nevertheless the system has been adopted and it seems like it's here to stay as believe me it's a DIFFICULT one to throw off.

My husband (I introduce him to you here, finally): "You should really try sending the laundry out...it frees up all your Saturday.."
He proceeds to gush about the Chinese woman's virtues and how everything smells so great.
J: "She charges WHATTT??? No way! My husband will do it. Never mind."
I try again.
Me: "Nice hair style J, did you go to Dellaria's?"
J: "Please, I got it done in India. As if we can afford to get our hair cut in this country"

They are good friends and will remain so. But I cannot, will not, should not be meeting her if I can help it. My sanity is important to me.

In conclusion I can only take solace in the fact that there are a million shlokas in the Gita about the fate of misers, the Bible condones it and Kabir Das himself poked a lot of fun at them....and the Quran, well the Quran says that a miser will be made to wear a pair of shoes prepared from the fire of Jahannam, which will make his brain boil like a pot on the fire. I would not go so far as to wish this on any of my sample cases, but I'm afraid their spouses just might. So be careful misers.

38 Comments:

Blogger anumita said...

It takes all kinds, I guess!!

3:56 AM  
Anonymous Patrix said...

The amazing thing is misers are not just hoarders of their own money; it breaks their heart when others spend theirs too. - thats so true. Some people are so obsessed with saving that they forget the real intention of money. By the time, they realize it, it can only buy them adult diapers.

8:42 AM  
Blogger FunnyCide said...

I am sure all these people are sitting at their computers just about now and writing about these other weird people who waste all their money on "Salmon a la Paige with Dill and Vidalia Onion and Cucumber Relish" while you can pick up those packets of Relish and Ketchup that you saved in your refrigerator the last time you went out [err and when was that? *scratch head*] and make your own sandwich at home!! {hey, Relish and Ketchup between two slices of bread can be called a sandwich, okay?]..

that was a real funny one!! I was smirking like a crazy nut staring at my comp!! man, it takes all kinds, doesnt it?

8:47 AM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

It might well be true that the other side is equally amused...I hope it's a good writer and he/she does us justice!

btw my man just read this and called me MEAN...i felt a twinge of my consciousness too...have to shake it off...o well, knowing him, he will just feel guilty for the both of us :)

9:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tch tch..all this from a person who never will 'buy' a flight ticket! At least someone in the family has a heart. The slight kanjoos in me wants to lash out on all people who buy 'blue leather purses' and diamonds like they buy veggies in a grocery store.
-alpha

9:44 AM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

Oye Oye....direct attacks!!!

If I needed to buy a flight ticket I would, just like when I need to get a haircut, I get one...(not wait for my next trip to my homeland!)...
But you raise an interesting point, there's a kanjoos in everybody...the question is where you draw the line..and that's a personal choice...being wise about how you spend your money is a worthy attribute indeed, something I strive to cultivate myself..but you have to agree that the cases I covered were a little over-the-top!!
I REFUSE to comment on the purses and diamonds...people who go to Express/Limited/BananaRepublic with the frequency with which they go to the loo should not throw stones.

9:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

haha! I guess I have sat and riduculed the same people too. I know we all do draw some imaginary lines which maybe percieved 'over-the-top' to differnt people falling in either categories.
What I am more freaked out about is the research you did in various religious beliefs to prove your point. hehe. Kabir said that?

ps- I go to the above said places to return stuff, not to buy. Buying is a 'buy'-product.
-alpha

2:00 PM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

you go there to return stuff you BOUGHT once upon a time...

Kabir and all I generally added...only the Quran part is true...so don't freak.

looks like i scared patrix away from his own blog :-)

2:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just by virtue of being Alpha's friend I think you have suffered enough but honey...with a name like GratisGab...you sound like a christian department store.

Nice writing though.

- Yogustus

3:03 PM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

Yo-Augustus! let me break it up nice and easy for you...Gratis aka Free, Gab aka Talk/Speech...see, FreeSpeech!!...Not so Christian dept store-like now, is it?...O well..all the cool names were taken by the time I jumped into the blog-wagon :-(

Where's your haven?

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yogu, keep away..kya honey woney ka chakkar chal raha hai. *my eyes are on you*

Loosegab is more like it. Thank God, this nonsense name really didnt have much meaning, I was thinking man..too hi-fi..must be some german word for 'screw you all'
btw, yogu used to blog a lot and was extremely funny till he got some gehri sadma after seeing Ash on TV.
http://yogustus.rediffblogs.com/
-al

3:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Havent bought at Walmart but the clothes there look decent. I think J doesn't work in the US. C'mon you will stop visiting J just because she spends lesser. Also, dont you have a washer/dryer at home ? Whats with the laundromat thing ?

4:07 PM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

al, do some work.

4:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey, the second anon wasn't me..
i meant to ask the same questions tho..laundromat? chinese lady folding clothes?
-alpha

4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yogu "honey"-ing married women ... Chheee chhee

4:19 PM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

Anonymous, Wal-Mart clothes are not being critizied and neither are the Burberry shirts being coveted...read blog again please.

No Richie-rich, we don't have washer-dryer at home, maybe we should send our laundry to you to do :-)

4:20 PM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

yup alp, Boston is full of these places...in fact nobody uses the apartment washer/dryers...Chinese lady will do delicates separately and all...like our good old Dhobis :-)

4:25 PM  
Blogger anumita said...

Hey, I loved the comments that followed! There's a cheeky anon around!

1:01 AM  
Blogger FunnyCide said...

Hey,
I read your post once again and I would like to comment on just one thing, about the reuse of garbage bags!! I think it is a noble thought if you look at it in a certain way :) I dont know if you friend's friend was trying to save money there, but he sure is saving the planet! Before all of you groan about another lecture on enviromental issues let me make myself very brief. Did you know that 100,000 whales, seals, turtles, and birds die every year as a result of plastic bags? Just some trivia. So you are asking me if reusing plastic bags is the way to go? I would say, not using plastic bags is the right way to go, but one can always make a start somewhere.
Sorry for hijacking your post to convey "global-future-awareness" information.
-Funnycide [and this time you will believe me when I say that ;)]

8:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

funnycide, you could say that for each and everything. Why pick on the poor garbage bags? Why not kitchen towels? Save the freaking trees man! Use and reuse cloth. What about not drinking expensive sherry and saving the world's starving population? How about not buying leather and saving poor animals? How about not coveting diamonds to protest the harmful conditions of diamond miners in Africa?

The point here probably was not all that.

-alpha (yes, I am working too)

9:03 AM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

arre bhagwan, ya'll take my happy cribbing and convert it to all this noble stuff...!!!

funnyC, neighbour's neighbour was NOT thinking of global warming or anything of the sort, promise!!! will write new blog that will clarify that...

alpha please look at left hand ring finger while typing about coveting diamonds...

funnyC, some influence has happened, me answering "Paper" when asked the Paper/Plastic question at the grocery store. of course it might have also come from the recent discovery that the one of the nicest neighbourhoods in Boston is going to be flooded most of the year 10 years fromn now...!!!! Very rattling!!!

10:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

funnycide...your heart is in the right place...but your garbage isn't. Please remove it from the front of my house.

- FPN (Funnycide's Pissed Neighbour)

11:10 AM  
Blogger FunnyCide said...

Oh Gees, Is that your house, I thought it was the dumpyard! Time for some maintenance, whaddya think dear neighburr? ;)

11:30 AM  
Blogger FunnyCide said...

So Alpha dear, whats your point? We have so many problems, so lets just bury our heads under the sand instead? Didnt get it!! :)

and gabby, sorry for converting your blog into a punch bag of sorts for ppl :) but we cant let that happen to the cobbled streets of dear Boston, can we? :)

11:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i tried remember!...it was you who kept on shouting that its immoral to kill weeds and drive nails into wood. talk about hypocrisy...*sigh*

You better change your name to hypoCide.

-FRPN (Funnycide's Really Pissed Neighbour)

11:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

O MY GOD FRPN, so you live under all that rubbish??? I thought it was a junkyard...I did see some clearing here and there, did not realise they were your windows...

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

they are not windows anonymous...you haven't cleaned your glasses in a while...thats why you see so much rubbish. Ja munne...ghar jaa kar safayee kar...

- FSN (FunnyCide's Sympathetic Neighbour)

12:29 PM  
Blogger FunnyCide said...

My Dear RPN, [Btw, are you pissed off or are you pissed on? ;)]

Since you seem to be hanging on religiously to every word of mine and following all instructions very well one more instruction just for you. I think you should go back to living under the rock.. it is environmentally very friendly [for the rest of us, that is] and thats where all the "pissed neighbours" are hanging out at these days!! :))

Dude, chill out!

-Funnycide [I insist to remain that way]

1:35 PM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

LOL!!! Well put FunnyC!

2:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FunnyCide...just to justify your name...please accept one of my "instructions"...do seriously work on improving your humour. "Pissed off or Pissed on???" Yikes! I am sure you can do better than that.

Rock On! (er...see how stupid it would sound if I said Rock Off! )

I still don't think you deserve this name...how about TryingToBeFunnyCide?

FHN - (FunnyCide's Helpful Neighbour)

2:56 PM  
Blogger FunnyCide said...

Dude Anonymous,

I am willing to spell it out just for you, I dont do it all the time, so pay attention. The word Funnycide is composed of two parts as you can see. Funny - Intended or designed to amuse, cide - Killer ex: bactericide, genocide. The rest, you go figure!! :)

About "pissed on and off" it is not a toggle switch I am talking about. Sheesh, today is spell-out-everything day I guess. I dont know what the reference to Rock on and off basically means. Let me try again, "pissed off" means "to be angry" whereas "pissed on" means "someone urinated on you".. there was a subtle pun intended, that was missed by my very helpful neighbor I guess..

Maybe you should be called "PunnyCide"!! :))

-Funnycide [signing off for the day!! Boy! What a day! :)]

3:53 PM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

Anonymous, I see the funny side of FunnyCide...but can't see you being very Neighbourly at all...buzz off now already!

6:35 PM  
Blogger AmitL said...

Hi,Gratis.LOL...those were some nice typical examples of misers...adding on further,think of those who buy a TV set,and,store the cardboard box,the polythene,the thermocole and the rest of the thingumajigs for eternity...or,think of people who collect roomfulls of plastic milk bottles..:)But,frankly,I guess there's a thin dividing line between miserly by choice and miserly because of no choice(poverty),isn't there?

7:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny-Pesticide??? Wow...now I am even more confused.

Anyway, don't get me wrong. I have no sympathy for hypocrites...thats all. Specially for pseudo environmentalists who use the same polluted stuff as the rest of us but wax eloquent about it. And you FC, for some reason remind me of that type of junta.

And you Gratisgab...get used to my presence. I'll be back.

- FPN (FunnyCide's Perpetual Neighbour)

9:14 PM  
Blogger Leela said...

All this neigbourly banter has caused me to forget what i wanted to say in the first place. Will be back :)

10:44 PM  
Blogger FunnyCide said...

Lol Leela!!

And Gratsi! dear gabby for pitching in a word for me!! :)

and as for you, my dear confused and perpetually disgruntled neighbor, my sympathies for you.. I know it is hard to be in your self all the time. I think we just grew up referring to different dictionaries [btw, mine was Mssrs Webster and Co].. And the name calling is baseless and uncalled for.. So I will get used to ignoring you.. :)

8:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right FunnyCide. Its tough being your neighbour :) I grew up reading the Bible, and I remember one line. Love Thy Neighbour. So there! I love you FunnyCide, my neighbour...even though you are flawed...I will try to see the good in you!

- FNIL (FunnyCide's Neighbour In Love)

9:29 AM  
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12:50 PM  

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