Frugally Awesome…or Awkward: Part 2

Frugally Awesome...In the last installment of this series, I confessed to being a supremely awkward being. I wasn’t lying. Just when I thought I couldn’t embarrass myself any more in front of my bosses, I had my evaluation meeting. Halfway through the meeting, one of the beads on my necklace cannonballed down my shirt. Thankfully, we were both seated, so it was only mildly awkward when I wrenched my elbow towards my torso to try to hold the bead in place. All was fine until I had to stand up and say goodbye. To say I looked like a Tyrannous Rex would be a perfectly fitting description. I’m no paleontologist, but I do know that T-Rexs would have had a downright difficult time shaking hands back in the day.

While I basically spend all my waking hours inadvertently seeking opportunities to turn seven shades of red, I am also refining an awkward moment specialty: financial embarrassments. These awkward encounters are all courtesy of my job–students and fellow teachers alike. And yes, I know you’re laughing at me, not with me. It’s OK. 

“I didn’t know people actually ate that part of the bread.”

I do cafeteria supervision on a regular basis. It yields me a very little extra spending money and allows me to bond with students in their natural habitats. Out of necessity and given my fondness for routines, I eat a whole lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. In the middle of one bite, one of my students started waving wildly for my attention. As I scooted over, she blurted out, “I didn’t know people actually ate that part of the bread.” I looked down and realized one half of my sandwich was made out the heel. Normally, I turn the heel inside, but in my haste, I scraped together a misaligned sandwich that particular morning. I swallowed my bite and shrugged, offering only, “You should see my husband’s lunch! He eats the bag and the bread clip!”

“Can’t you buy Ziploc bags?”

Before I recycle plastic containers, I reuse them. Before you tell me that I’m slowly filling myself with BPA and all sorts of other chemicals, I don’t reheat or freeze anything in them. I merely use them to store my pretzels and other assorted snacks. Normally, I keep these containers balanced precariously in my lunch bag and simply pull out the pretzels while I pace the length of the cafeteria. It’s much less awkward than constantly repeating the phrase, “No, I’m not actually eating straight sour cream.” Turns out, I’m not as clever as I thought because just last week, a student asked, “Can’t you buy Ziploc bags?” No, kid, I’m an environmentalist. Or maybe just a tad too frugal.

“Do you need a little, um, help?”

I carry a designer handbag. I drive a car that’s only five years old and looks brand new because I’m exactly as obsessive in real life as you imagine. I have too many nice clothes, though none that I’ve purchased new this school year. I do my hair every morning. I even remember to swipe on mascara most days. But apparently, if you turn down enough requests to buy Cabi clothes, Stella & Dot jewelry, Thirty-One bags, and Girl Scout cookies*, one of your coworkers will, in fact, ask, “Do you need a little, um, help?” After a synchronized reddening of our cheeks, I countered, “With the door? Thanks, but I’ve got my keys right here.” Boom. I’m so smooth, you guys. So smooth.

*It was Lent. I’m actually a big fan of kiddos getting a taste of side hustling and entrepreneurship.

So Tell Me…Any awkward encounters as of late? How do people handle your frugality?  


Frugally Awesome…or Awkward: Part 2

24 thoughts on “Frugally Awesome…or Awkward: Part 2

  1. I feel like you’re less awkward, and more funny. 😉 I wish I had witty comebacks like that ready at a moment’s notice! I’m more of the physical comedy type. You know, tripping over stuff, falling down… always on purpose, of course. 🙂

    1. ALWAYS on purpose! I trip at least once a day when I teach. Usually over nothing. On occasion, a student will toss me something. On the even rarer occasion that I catch it, I get a round of applause.

  2. Oh. My. God.

    Your coworker who asked if you needed help is the awkward one! I mean, a VERY well-intentioned awkward one, but still. I can’t even imagine asking a coworker that! (Kids can’t help themselves, they say awkward things, but a coworker?!)

    Although, in similarly awkward fashion, when I told a few people at work that I cut my own hair, one of the women in the office was like “Des, I know you’re frugal, but I can recommend a really good hairdresser. She doesn’t charge that much!” In my head I’m all, “You NEVER would have known I cut my own hair if I hadn’t told you, I look great *hairflip*” but I only smiled and laughed politely. I wish I was as quick with the comebacks as you were! To be honest, I’m still trying to figure out what I should have said to humorously tell her I actually take pride in my hair-cutting skills.

    1. Why would you pay for something that you do really well…and enjoy?! I’m so envious of your hair cutting skills. One time, I tried to fix the face-framing layers…and created a weird, cowlick bang. I think it’s so funny how people fixate on things once they know they were inexpensive or free. I think the opposite is also true. If you like something, you like something. Price shouldn’t have to factor in.

    1. I know. I always feel so guilty saying no. But I know there’s no way I’d be able to resist the temptation through Lent. Even if I froze them.

  3. Not using ziplocs is way cooler in my circles (although the hardcore try to pack everything in tins and glass), so I usually fail by using them. And bread heels are just not waste. You have the opportunity to brand yourself at your school as the totally committed to the cause teacher (frugality or environmentalism, take your pick), which is pretty awesome. #LunchroomLessons

  4. Kids seem to naturally despise anything frugal (“Dad, why do you have to use a coupon in a restaurant?” “Um, because I don’t like to spend money I don’t have to?”) but your co-worker, well-intentioned though she might be, should have kept her thoughts to herself. You keep on setting the example at school. It’s good for kids to see people caring about money (and the environment).

    1. Great point! Consumption is second nature to most kiddos. And it seems to be the more expensive the item, the more prestigious the buy. Cringe, cringe.

  5. I am one of those people who like to eat the end pieces of bread. Oh, and I cut my own hair and happy too. My co-workers are just amazed by the fact one can cut own hair. They just wanted to know how to do it. Guess, I have frugal co-workers too. My family don’t buy any dips. We just make our own.

    1. Awesome! You have lots of frugal habits and talents. How cool that your coworkers are frugal. I’m jealous! I also wish I could cut my own hair. So far, all I’ve mastered is cutting my husband’s. I get a $7 trim once a year, so I figure I’m good with that.

  6. I love this!! I can relate to most of these, although I haven’t eaten the heel yet…I have recently rediscovered PB&J though! Lately my quest has been to replace all this disposable with more permanent solutions. Good for the planet, my wallet, and usually my health!

    1. I love when cost-saving measures and environmentally friendly habits align. I’m hoping to get a lot of bang for my educational buck promoting Earth Week this month at work!

  7. I have been known to wear shoes until the soles have come almost completely off. I was contemplating wrapping duct tape around my shoes to keep the soles on, but then my husband threw the shoes away before I could.

    Probably a good idea too; I would have lost all traction with duct tape across the soles and would have slipped and broken my leg. 🙂

    1. That’s dedication! And good call on your husband’s part. A broken leg isn’t very frugal! One time I wore my favorite gym shoes for so long, I got a hole in the toe. I was sad to part with them because they made me look way more dedicated to running than I actually am.

  8. First time visitor. What a great post. I’m happy that it’s a series. I’ll come back for more laughs. I too reuse Ziploc bags. I live in SF, and I get more ridiculed for using plastic at all then I do for reusing plastic bags. My co-workers want me to buy reusable containers. I tell them that my Ziploc bags are reusable 🙂

  9. So far most people have been encouraging on my simple living lifestyle. I really don’t care though what most people think. Most people are up to their eyeballs in debt, so I want something different in my life because I was just like them – and that’s a stressful way to live.

    1. That’s so fantastic that people have been so supportive of your lifestyle. Teach me your ways! Part of why it is so difficult is because I live in a city where so many of the residents have so much excess.

  10. oh my goodness, bread heels! Hubby loves ’em. They make me kind of gag. But anyway, isn’t it funny how people feel so comfy that they’ll comment on just about anything you’re doing? It would be nice if they didn’t, but that’s human nature I guess. At least for some people. I’m loving this series, even though I’m reading them in reverse order. Is that awkward? Sometimes I read magazines from back to front cover too. 🙂

    1. If that’s awkward, I’m in for a world of hurt! Ha 🙂 It totally is human nature to comment. I wish it was human nature to consider the responses.

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