Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Valentine's Day Story (Sort Of...)

Last night, I stopped-by my local Whole Foods to pick-up some bulk staples and see if I couldn't find something special to splurge on and make for Valentine's Day.  Pushing my cart up to the fish counter, there was a fairly young guy ahead of me dressed nicely in business attire who clearly had the same treat in mind as I had--some nice sea scallops.

Let me preface by saying that my wife absolutely loves sea scallops (those are the big ones) and I honestly don't buy them that often because they're quite pricey and I usually find you don't get nearly the quality you'd expect for the price they're charging.  However, it was a special occasion and I know WF usually has pretty good fish, if not higher prices.

Anyway, back to the story...  The guy steps up to the counter and goes, "Do you have any more scallops than what's there?"  Looking at the tray, I too notice there are a few dry-looking examples left and no price sign on them.  To the left is a tray of bay scallops (the small ones) labeled $12.99/pound.  The clerk replies politely and heads into the back room to retrieve a fresh container of scallops.

"You happen to know how much they are?" I ask the guy.

"I'm sure they're not much more than the ones next to them," he replies.

"Amateur," I think to myself with a silent chuckle.  I then reply, "I dunno...they're usually quite a bit more than the bay scallops."

So the woman returns and asks how many he wants.  He replies, "Oh...16 or 17," and she starts to fill a large plastic container with scallops.  Meanwhile, the guy thinks he's all smart and starts guessing what he thinks the price per pound will be.  I just kept quiet and heard, "Ca-ching," in my head every time she dropped another one into the container.

"Beep, beep, beep," the scale lights-up:  $24.99/pound.  Nearly DOUBLE the bay scallops.  He doesn't blink an eye, just takes his container and heads off.

To make a long story short, I ordered 8 of them and it cost around $18.  That means this guy ended-up dropping around $40 on scallops without looking at a price tag, without blinking when he saw it, and went on his merry way.

This whole encounter made me think a little about perspective and priorities.  We're at a stage in our life where we're in a fairly tight financial situation.  Don't get me's mostly by choice.  We choose to have a home with a good amount of land and a child in daycare and we choose to spend our money on the things that we think matter.  We choose to have jobs that don't have us working 60 or 80 hours a week so we can spend more time with our family.  And we choose to try to not live beyond our means.  I could have bought $40 worth of fish, slapped it on Ye-Olde-Visa and not worried about whether I'd have the money to pay it off at the end of the month, but we don't.

Anyway, we'll enjoy our tasty scallops this evening and it will be a real treat--something we don't get to do every day and something we won't take for granted.  I don't know what this guy's circumstances are and quite frankly, I don't envy him.  I love my wife, my daughter, my family.  As frustrated as I may get on the days when I sit-down to pay the bills, I wouldn't trade the life we have for the world (or a couple of mollusks).

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.  Spend some time with those you love and do it however you see fit--not the way society says you should.  It's about the love, not the chocolates, cards, flowers, or the fancy dinner at an overpriced restaurant.


  1. It's tough being a foodie on a budget. With only one income, we're watching the bottom line at checkout line more closely and cutting back on the little luxuries, like artisanal cheeses, choice cuts of meat, and recipes that require a lot of new, expensive pantry items.

    I have to say that finding a local asian market has made the last one a little less important.

  2. That sounds like he bought a lot for two people. Maybe he's entertaining? That said, if the alternative is going to a restaurant and dropping $100 for Valentines Day, a $40 purchase seems like he's 'saving'. Or he's a guy and he's completely clueless on food pricing. He might have gotten a scolding when he got home. ;)


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