I have become one of those people. I realized it the other day when I got The Look while in the grocery line. The irritated Look that says, “You, madam, are taking way-hay-hay too long to pay.” That Look that I, rather well I’d like to think, used to give to people.

It all has to do with these bloody coupons I get. You see, I have gotten addicted to using them.

It all started when I finally opened, and did not toss, a coupon pack Kroger sent me. Inside was a neat bundle of discounts that had — and here’s the kicker — been selected based on my past grocery bills.

I frowned a little bit at the package, highly skeptical Mr. Kroger could possibly know what I like to eat. But then I started flipping through the coupons. The first few showed discounts for Red Gold tomatoes, Pantene shampoo, Organic Valley milk — items I stick to religiously. Then there were coupons for things Kroger was giving away just entirely for free — Aquafina water, a Reach toothbrush, a pint of Häagen-Dazs .

It was the promise of free ice cream that pushed me over the edge with glee.

I even blushed a little.

Obviously, Mr. Kroger was flirting with me.

I pushed all the coupons in my wallet and happily trotted to the grocery store, already anticipating the huge discount I would see at the bottom of my bill.

It didn’t take me long to realize Mr. Kroger doesn’t know me that well — some of the coupons are for things I’ve never bought. Pillsbury crescent rolls, for example. Cake decorating supplies.

But as I wandered and wandered and wandered around the store finding my items, I started to feel the coupon high. As I picked up two monster jars of mayonnaise so I could save $2, I could feel myself getting weak. Maybe I did need cake decorating supplies. They WERE 30 cents off. What if I wanted to make a cake and wanted to go with a Barbie theme?

Then I ran into the Dough Boy. I could hear his little giggle and I really, really wanted to poke his belly. He asked me to buy his crescent rolls — he said he’d be insulted if I didn’t. And, besides, if I bought two cans he’d give me 75 cents off.

So I stuck it all in the basket, which I realized halfway through my trip was sadly incapable of holding all of my coupon loot.

Soon I was practically kicking the basket down the beauty department, hoping to spend $15 in items so I could get $3 off. I threw in deodorant, Kleenex, lots of Irish Spring. Then I unabashedly tucked a huge 24-roll pack of toilet paper under my arm and soldiered on.

After an hour of crisscrossing the store to try to get all of my coupons accounted for, I headed to the cashier.

It was at the moment I got to the front of the line that I became one of those people. A little confused. Hoping the coupon counted. Forgetting to pull out my wallet because I was so preoccupied with my discount.

Then I asked for 12 cents off for bringing three of my own bags.

It was quiet, true, but I did hear it.

A distinct “Tsk.” From the woman standing in what had become a long line behind me. She had her arms aggressively crossed. She was not smiling. And one thing was painfully clear: She was not happy for me that I was saving money.

I picked up my bags — and my bill showing I’d saved $16.83 — and beat it out of there, deeply ashamed that I’d become ... slow.

But last night I got two packs of coupons. I stared at them in the mailbox. Picked one up and sniffed. It positively reeked of savings. I opened the envelope carefully, peered inside and saw 40 cents off Land ‘O Lakes butter.

Oh sweet Jesus.

How could I resist?

I’m going shopping right after work. I’m going to get the butter, Bay’s English Muffins, $20 worth of pork and some Colgate Total.

And if I have another Tsker behind me in line, I have my plan of attack ready: While she huffs, I’m going to slip the second pack of coupons in her purse.

That’ll teach her.

P.S. Kudos to Kroger’s fish department. I’ve been especially enjoying the jumbo shrimp and had a great time using the cod for beer-battered fish a few weeks ago. Those lily-white scallops are next on my hit list.

Staff writer Tara Kaprowy can be reached by e-mail at

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