I love freebies. It’s like winning the lottery, only with better odds. It doesn’t matter if it’s a free sample of haemorrhoid cream that I’ll never use or a brochure that will end up in my recycle bin. If it’s free, I’m attracted to it like a fly on a turd. It’s revolting, shameless and somewhat disturbing.
So as a professional freebie collection agent, I’ve learnt a few valuable lessons that I can impart. This is a snippet of my sad-sack life as a sucker for useless freebies.
Bananas, Nutella, Eggs, Weetbix, Milo, Vanish
I recite the words over in my head.
Coles Little Shop. The current bane of my existence. How has my life become so consumed by this madness?
I curse the marketing gurus at Coles for their ingenious campaign. Damn these super addictive gimmicks! It certainly hooked, lined, and sinkered the crapola out of me. I’m the perfect gullible marketer’s wet dream.
I went from casually getting a few collectables with the weekly groceries to religiously scrolling advertisements on Gumtree for trades and cheap buys. Never in my life have I dreamed of meeting a total stranger; another grown-ass adult, to trade or buy promotional toys. Yet, that’s exactly what I do, under the pretense of getting the whole collection for my five-year-old daughter.
I’ve secured a transaction with someone called MeiMei. She claims to have all six of my… ahem, I mean my daughter’s missing items at a steal. Is it too good to be true? Possibly.
As I park out front of the address MeiMei texted me and stare up at the massive apartment building, I reconsider the rationality of my actions. I have the kids in the car. No one knows I’m here, not even my husband. MeiMei could be an axe murderer.
I quickly rectify the situation by texting my bestie.
“Hey, I’m at x address. If I don’t text you in fifteen minutes, call the cops.”
There. Problem solved.
“Mummy, why are we just sitting here?” asks Mandy.
“I’m just thinking,” I reply. I text MeiMei to let her know that I’m outside her building.
My phone dings. ‘Meet me at Room 42, Level 2.’
The theme song to Jaws starts to play in my mind as I conjure up a whole host of bloody and graphic scenarios of my death. I get a cold sweat; my hands are shaking. I can’t do this! It’s crazy. There’s no way I can escape with two kids dragging me down!
“Mummy! Are we getting the Little Shop!” demands Mandy, exasperated with my procrastination.
I text MeiMei to meet us downstairs instead. It seems like the most sensible thing to do.
“Ok. I want you to lock the doors when I leave and call this number if anything happens,” I tell Mandy.
Mandy looks worried so I try to placate her. “It’s ok. Nothing will happen. I’m just being extra cautious.”
I mentally facepalm myself for putting us through this unnecessary danger and stress. I’m certainly not in the running for the Mother-Of-The-Year Award.
I gape at the person who just exited the doors. The Asian woman is wearing a pair of six-inch black platform pumps, bright pink bike shorts and a pink feathered crop top.
Woah. She can’t possibly chase me down in those heels. I’m probably safe.
“Here, you check,” MeiMei says. No introduction. No pleasantries. Straight to business.
I feel like I’m in a scene of Breaking Bad. I glance about nervously, hand over the cash and grab the goods before rushing back to the car. I forget to say goodbye; I’m that skittish.
I chuck the goods over my shoulder to my daughter and laugh at the absurdity of the situation.
Two weeks later…
I grab my foot and wince in agony. I look down at the offending object. Stupid Little Shop miniatures are strewn all over the carpet like landmines waiting to exact maximum damage.
What began as a freebie ended in unnecessary anxiety and a miniature Dettol bottle embedded into the sole of my foot.
Life lesson here? Nothing is truly free.
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