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300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz, Episode #108: “Why I Love the Dollar Store”

NOTE: This is a transcript of a podcast for those with hearing difficulties, those that prefer to read, and those who would prefer to not hear the sound of my voice. 😉

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Welcome to “300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz.” This is episode number 108, “Why I Love The Dollar Store,” so let the 300 Seconds begin!

With one notable exception, I like going shopping, especially for groceries. Walking up and down the aisles, checking out new products, comparing items, checking off my list, and buying twice as many things as I had intended to always makes for a good time.  The fact that I can’t go as often as I used to, thanks to the coronavirus, makes me now want to squeeze as much enjoyment as I possibly can out of each shopping trip…but that’s a topic for another time.  The point I’m trying to make here is that I really like looking for stuff to buy.

Before I move on, I should mention the one exception to my “I like shopping” rule: shoes.  I’ll just say that finding a size 13 wide is easier said than done.

Over the years, I have grown to become quite fond of dollar stores.  Whereas grocery stores are vast wonderlands of commerce, dollar stores are smaller and have a quirkiness to them that I really enjoy.  I even have some practical reasons for enjoying the dollar store.

To begin with, because they’re smaller, dollar stores can sometimes be less crowded, especially if you find one that’s a little out of the way.  Even before the coronavirus made staying away from other people standard operating procedure, I have never been a fan on overly crowded places.  As much as I like shopping, I try to do it when there will be fewer people around.  I’m a nerd, it’s kind of what we do.  The downside of this is when there’s only one register open and the line gets crazy long.  Granted, that’s an issue that can come up at any store, but it’s an acceptable risk as far as I’m concerned.

Secondly, the sheer variety of things you can find at the dollar store makes for plenty of opportunities to browse.  Food, office supplies, dishes, party supplies, hardware; there’s just all kinds of stuff to look at.  Granted, this also has the unintended side effect of there being more stuff to just randomly buy, but hey, I’m at the dollar store!  I also like the sheer variety of oddball things that you can find, especially in the candy aisle.  Dollar stores often have weirdo candies that I just don’t see very often in South Texas.  Stuff like Charleston Chew, Zagnut bars, Clark Bars, and Mallo Cups.  I can’t say I’ve tried all of those, but if I ever get an inkling to, the opportunity is there.

Also, I live by myself, so I have to shop and cook for one.  Dollar stores tend to have things in smaller sizes, which works our perfectly.  Maybe it’s just me, but I think the sizes of the boxes of cereal at the grocery stores are starting to get a little out of hand.  As much as I like Raisin Bran, I don’t need a two-pound box of it.  At the dollar store, I can find a normal sized box of cereal.  In addition, there are packages of baking mix that will only make six muffins or a dozen cookies.  If you live alone like I do, or you’re just trying to eat less, which I’m also trying to do, those smaller sizes are pretty darn nice.  I do also feel obligated to mention that they have peanut butter crackers that come in packages of four instead of six, which is pretty darned awesome.

One does have to exercise caution in the midst of all this convenience, however. Of course, I’m talking about Brand X.  Maybe I’m being a little paranoid, but sometimes the amount of stuff that you get for the price feels is just a little too good to be true, you know what I mean?  That said, the temptation to try something new is easier to give in to when the item is smaller and less expensive.  And yes, I know that brand-name products aren’t necessarily less expensive at the dollar store, but I’m okay with paying an extra nickel or dime here and there for the convenience. 

So yeah, I love dollar stores, they’re just the thing for when I want to pick up a few items and I don’t feel like dealing with the madness at the nearby HEB or Wal-Mart…or maybe I just want a box of Charleston Chew.

This has been 300 Seconds!  The next episode will be posted after I go to the dollar store to pick up a few things.  For more wonderfully weird words written by me, visit Eduardo Soliz dot com, and I thank you for listening!  Be Good, Take Care, and God Bless.

Christmas, PODCASTS, Super-Short Storytime

Super Short Story Time: “Confession”

You are about to hear one side of a chat that may be taking place this afternoon or maybe tomorrow, assuming it hasn’t already.  It involves a speaker who wants to get something off of their chest and a listener who is there for their own reasons.  I call this curious conversation: ‘Confession.’

How are you?

I’m fine, just busy, you know?

You, me, and everybody else.  Remember when today wasn’t so busy and everybody stayed at home?

Yeah, me too.  You’re gonna think I’m crazy, but I think it got this way because of me.

How?   *sigh*  Well, about six years ago, I saw Santa Claus.

Yeah, I know, everybody thinks I’m crazy, but I saw him.  I didn’t even hear him or anything, I just wandered into the living room because I just had this feeling, you know?  And there he was, leaving gifts under the tree.

Apparently when you catch Santa in the act, he grants you a wish…anything you want, in exchange for  keeping his secret.

I wished that it could be Christmas all year…hey, I was eleven years old, it sounded good to me!

Santa tried to talk me out of it.  He said something about ‘the balance,’ but like I said, eleven years old.  Santa said okay, and disappeared.

Ever since then, the Christmas decorations go up a little earlier, people start putting their lights a little bit earlier, and you start hearing Christmas music a little bit earlier.  Like I said, I think it’s my fault.

Why am I telling you this?  Well, I guess that I hope that if I break my promise to keep his secret, he’ll break his, and things will go back to the way they used to be…I guess Santa never breaks his word, even when it’s a good idea.

Crazy, huh?  I wouldn’t blame you if you don’t believe me.  I don’t believe it myself, sometimes…but well, here we are…and here’s your receipt, ma’am.  You have a nice day.  *sigh*

Next customer!

Tis the season, so the saying goes, Dear Listeners, but which one?  It gets harder and harder to tell.  For more telling tales told by me, visit Eduardo Soliz dot com. This has been Super-Short Storytime and regardless of which one you’re celebrating: Happy holiday, listeners!

I wrote a happier Christmas story to make up for this one called “Middlemen.”


In Defense of the Christmas Creeps

This was taken on September 24th 0_o

I was flipping through the radio stations as I was driving into work today to find that San Antonio station KQXT 101.9 had already started their annual Christmas music marathon.  Now, I love Christmas music, but the fact that they were doing so a week before Thanksgiving struck me as being just a hair too early.

The phenomena is known as “Christmas Creep.” While on a certain level it is getting ridiculous, there is one argument against it that I can’t get onboard with.  It goes like this: “Why does Christmas stuff have to come around so soon…what about Thanksgiving?”

What about Thanksgiving?

There really isn’t much to it.  Most folks will travel, spend a day or two with loved ones and perhaps enjoy a turkey dinner.  That’s it.  Thanksgiving is just what it says on the box: a day to give thanks and get a day off from work (or a four-day weekend if you are truly fortunate).

While Thanksgiving is special to many people, it isn’t sacred by any stretch of the imagination.  Heck, some stores have gone from opening at oh-dark-thirty the day after to opening late on Thanksgiving Day itself.

To be fair, let’s look at it from the store’s perspective: Thanksgiving does little for stores that don’t sell food, so I don’t really blame them for wanting to get an early jump on the Christmas shopping season.

So yeah, while stores opening on Thanksgiving Day sucks and getting a jump on Christmas in September or even October is a bit much, I think the week before Thanksgiving is just fine for retailers to start getting the ball rolling.

Finally, I should confess that I have been tuning to that Christmas music station on occasion, so I’m probably part of the problem.  🙂


I Am Not Customer Service

Have you ever caught yourself in a store wearing the same color shirt as the employees? For example, going to Best Buy wearing a blue shirt, or Circuit City with a red shirt? It happens to me more often than I’d like to admit. Of course, this leads to people assuming I work at the store and asking for help. Since I happen to be Mr. Nice Guy, I will point them to where they need to go. After all, my poor choice of clothing isn’t their fault.

Today was just plain weird, though. I went to Target in order to buy a wedding gift for some friends that are going to be married next week. Of course, I first stopped at the customer service area in order to check the registry. I went behind one of the computers and started tapping away, thinking nothing of it. I am facing the inside of the store, and there is a wall that is about 3-1/2 feet high in front of me, and the monitor is peeking just above that wall.

As I am browsing, a woman walks up to the other side of the wall and asks me if I know where the optical department is…apparently she thought I was in the customer service department. I then explain that I do not think there is one in the store, but am not sure. At that point she realized her error, apologized profusely, and walked over to the REAL customer service desk.

I wasn’t even wearing a red shirt.


All I Want For Christmas Is An MP3 / Movin’ Man

I woke up early today because I had to exchange two gifts; a DVD player I had purchased for my mother had to be upgraded (or downgraded depending on your point of view) to a DVD/VCR, and the MP3 player I purchased for one of my brothers didn’t work, so that had to be exchanged.

I first thought to myself “OH NOES! The stores are going to be packed, so I better get out early.” and thus hit the road at about 830. Come to my surprise, there were no lines at any of the service desks and I walked out of Wally-mart with a DVD/VCR combo for Mom. The Best Buy was out of stock of the player I had bought for my brother so I went ahead and returned it, thinking I could easily find a similar one elsewhere.

WRONG. Three Wal-Marts, two Radio Shacks, a Target, and a Circuit City later, I had jack and squat. You know you’re desperate when you’re going to Radio Shack. It wasn’t just that I couldn’t find the same model I had bought for my brother, there were hardly ANY mp3 players to be found for under one hundred dollars! I suppose now that mp3 players with 1GB of storage can be readily had for under $100, EVERYBODY and their cat wants one. Granted, there were some iPods, but I’m on a budget. I sheepishly told my brother that I would find one up here or order it online and get it delivered to him.

That (almost) taken care of, I said my goodbyes and hit the road back to good ol’ San Antone, as today is the day I get the keys to my new apartment and start moving out of the dump I’m living in right now. When I do this, I essentially play a little game I call: “How much crap can Randomizer cram into his car?” I currently drive a 2005 Dodge Neon and I’m discovering that it can hold quite a bit. After two carloads I have the bathroom ready to go; I just need a new shower curtain. The kitchen is almost ready, I just need to move over the food from the refrigerator/freezer, and I have some temporary bedding in place until the boys and I get the big stuff moved this Saturday.

I am enjoying moving my stuff over, just the essentials right now, and by New Year’s I expect to have everything major done and be livin’ la vida loca. No more crappy commute or trashy neighbors, just a nice quiet place where I can rock until I drop, then rock some more!


Christmas time is near…

The Christmas season is easily my favorite time of the year; the cooler weather, listening to Christmas music, making cookies for friends and family, singing Christmas hymns in church…well, when I go to church, anyway…heck, I even like Christmas shopping, and yes, I did go out on Black Friday.

Granted, I didn’t get up at the wee hours to catch the Big Sales, but then again, I’ve been on the other side of the register on Black Friday, and it ain’t pretty! I was a little disheartened to see so many stressed-out people running around, though. I found a good deal on an MP3 player for my brother and a 4GB flash drive for backing up my data, so I got something out of the trip.

As I hustle and bustle about, I try to remind myself that the season is not about the gifts or decorations or even cookies. Its about spending time with family and friends and doing things that make them and yourself happy. I think its something we should all remember.

Well, back to shopping, cookies, music, Christmas parties and all that good stuff!