But what I'm talking about is this part of me who still remembers being poor in Chicago--not poor like impoverished or needing food stamps, but poor like having five dollars in my checking account and a week left until pay day, living off of a waitress' salary and tips and somehow managing to pay rent and never really having any savings to speak of except for the annual $20 my grandma used to send me for my birthday.
And honestly, until Obama was elected and offered that tax break to buy a new house and I got $8,000 back, I never had more than $1,000 in savings. Getting that lump sum all at once somehow made it easier to squirrel the money and spend a part of it on house renovations.
But why then, when I'm nearly out of Sweet and Low for my morning cup of coffee, does my mind first go to the arduous task of stealing packets from the coffee shop? Not like a lot of them--you know, two extra with each purchase, while rationalizing that Starbucks can afford it. But then there's the elaborate palming of the extra packets and then, like, trying not to look around to see if anyone is paying attention and attempting to make it seem like this is the extra sweetener you will add after you've settled in at your desk. And then I'm thinking, but this only covers tomorrow's coffee--I'll have to keep up this sugar packet crime spree on a daily basis or go without.
And then this weekend, we went to the grocery store and I miraculously remembered to look for the packets in the baking aisle. And they're not at all expensive. You can buy 700 packets of Sweet and Low for about $1.36. I bought them and put them in my sugar bowl and thought, okay, we're safe again for at least another two months. Same goes for coffee filters, to an extent. I am almost out of them, and they come in packets of 500, so the last time I bought them was a year and a half ago. Also, they are practically free to purchase, but I was already calculating if maybe I could take some from work, after all, I bought those for work a while ago, so they are technically mine. Just go buy some more!
This is why people shop at Costco and this is why people get on the show Hoarders. Multiply my minor coffee-accoutrement anxiety by 1,000 for a real trauma, like having your house burn down when you were six and all of your pets dying and your stuffed animal collection turning to cinders and you can see how it would be difficult to let go of things.