Saturday, May 27, 2006

What Toothpaste Taught Me About Life

There's a brand-new tube of Tom's of Maine Peppermint Toothpaste sitting on my desk that I can't wait to use. I've never used organic toothpaste before, and it seems part luxury, part responsible consumer. I even unscrewed the cap this morning and just took a taste with my fingertip (after which I read the back of the tube to see if there were any CAUTION: DO NOT SWALLOW messages--there weren't). Then I went to the bathroom, opened the middle drawer, and removed Mr. Colgate Blue Gel with the Little Breath Strips. I reasoned last night as I was brushing that Colgate probably has enough in the tube for 3 more brushes. I could have tossed him and enjoyed the first taste of the herbal freshness of Tom's, but I know the value of a dime.

When I was a very small girl, my parents instilled deep within me the importance of squeezing the toothpaste tube until every last godforsaken millimillimilli[unit of volume...liter?] was used. To this day, I still squeeze toothpaste, shampoo, and facewash tubes until no more can possibly be eked out. I even run my toothbrush (it has that nice straight edge) down the tube so that all of the toothpaste is extracted from the sides and corners of the tube--it's not as effective as a vacuum would be, but short of clipping the tube open with scissors and scraping the sides clean, it's the best I can do.

Now, when you really get down to the bottom of it, what is the ultimate purpose of this extreme thriftiness? Toothpaste costs around $3 a tube. If a tube is used an average of two times a day for thirty days, that's a cost of only $.05 per use. So by scraping the tube I might save myself $.10, or $.15 if I cheat myself by using only a tiny bit of paste on the last brushing. So surely this effort can't be to save a dime--I pass dimes on the sidewalk all the time and don't pick them up, or I round up on a tip and leave $5 instead of $4.90, or splurge on a bottle of perfume for $60 that I totally do not need--that's a whole 600 dimes!

I guess my parents, after all, were just trying to teach me the value of a dollar. My parents are teachers, so I didn't grow up rich, but I always had lots of Christmas presents, took vacations a couple times a year to places like St. Augustine and Gulf Shores, and, even if my mom did cut my hair sometimes, I think it was more for the bonding than the $14 it would have saved.

I think my Mom and Dad will be proud that even if I didn't always, on every occasion, take their lessons to heart (I mean, not that I can think of any specific examples at the moment, but I'm sure they're there), their grown-up daughter, who lives hundreds of miles away and, although she is still a few important financial steps away from being independent, is mature enough to be (or at least try her hardest to be) content spending weekend nights alone eating leftovers, writing blogs, and reading classic novels, knows the value of a dollar and, even, a dime.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your OWN time is more important than money.


9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess you did learn a few lessons from us after all. MoT

6:13 AM  
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4:14 PM  
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2:53 PM  

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