© 2017 by Jerry L. Croasmun
"What is wrong with me?" I asked, bursting into tears. "I've never done that before."
"Accidents happen," Ben said.
It felt like the whole world was laughing and pointing their fingers at me. That cute boy from school, Tyler was looking at me. I knew my chances of ever getting to know him better were blown. There was milk everywhere; all over the floor, on Ben, on my pants and shoes, just everywhere. Believe me, spilt milk spreads quicker than most wildfires.
"Wow, how much milk does a gallon hold?" I asked.
I know they say not to cry over spilt milk and go milk another cow instead, but I was devastated.
"It's okay. Stuff like this happens all the time. I'll take care of it."
I looked up and I could hardly believe my ears. I was convinced my eyes were playing tricks. He certainly couldn't be talking to me, but he was.
"Hi, I'm Tye. Don't worry."
He then vanished, and I began to think I was hallucinating when he reappeared with a mop, bucket, and wet floor caution signs.
"Thank you. Thank you. I'm so sorry."
Tye cleaned up my mess and said, "No problem."
"I'm glad to get out of there. That was so embarrassing," I said, as we made our way to the meat department. "What else is on our list?"
Ben answered, "We have milk. We still need hamburger, taco seasoning, cheese, lettuce, and cereal."
"Did you bring your calculator?"
"Here it is."
Momma had sent us to the store to get a few things to fix tacos for dinner. She said since I was going off to college in a few months, I needed to get used to shopping on my own. Ben said he was my bodyguard, but I really knew he wanted to make sure I bought the kind of cereal he liked. Momma had tried to teach us how to spot a bargain and to do price comparisons, now was our test.
"Hey Ben, did we put taco shells on there?"
"Nope and we forgot the tomatoes."
"Chicken nachos. Wanna try our new chicken nachos?" the lady passing out free samples asked.
The sample consisted of a small bite of meat on a corn tortilla chip.
"Yum, these are good. That's chicken?" Ben asked.
"Yes, we are introducing our new ground chicken with Mrs. Jarmillio's special taco seasoning. Do you like?"
"The first bite was good," I said. "How did you fix it?"
"It is very easy. Brown the meat in a skillet much like you would cook ground beef and mix in some taco seasoning. It is that simple."
"Do you think we should buy this instead of hamburger?"
"The family pack is on sale for only $3.74 per pound," the sample lady said.
"How come the sign says $4.68?" Ben asked.
"Oh. It's because this package is a 20 ounce package or 1 1/4 lbs."
I was glad Ben had come along. He was only thirteen, but was very practical and helped me not make impulse buying decisions.
"That's so confusing. Pounds, ounces, packages, serving sizes. Looks like there are lots of things to compare when buying groceries. Daddy probably wouldn't like chicken tacos."
"I think you're right, Ben. Which hamburger should we buy? The family pack or two singles?"
"The one pound package is $2.96, and the family pack is $6.56. So, two 1 lb. packages would equal $5.92."
"Ben, how many ounces does the family pack say?"
"It says 2 1/4 lbs."
"To do a real price comparison we have to figure the price per ounce. Divide $2.96 by 16 to get the price per ounce."
"Good. So, the single pound pack is 18 1/2 cents per ounce. Now let's figure the family pack. One pound is equal to 16 ounces and 16 divided by 4 is 4. Four ounces is the same as 1/4 of a lb. Ben, divide $6.56 by 36."
"Why 36, Shoshana?"
"Because there are 16 ounces in a pound and the family pack is 2 1/4 lbs. 16 + 16 + 4 is 36. Check my math."
"Yep, you are right. $6.56 divided by 36 is 18.222222," Ben said, putting the family pack of hamburger in the cart.
We usually bought milk by the gallon, but since Momma had told us to get the best deals, I thought I'd better compare prices. I started to have Ben use his calculator, but instead noticed a gallon of milk was $2.07 and half a gallon was $1.25. I quickly determined 2 times $1.25 was $2.50, which was more than the $2.07 price. We grabbed two gallons of 2% milk.
"Ben, get the calculator ready because this cheese is confusing me. We can buy a 1 lb. bag of shredded cheese for $2.77 or two 8 oz bags for $1.68 each, or a 1 lb. block that we would have to grate for $2.98."
"I never knew there were so many choices. Aren't there 16 ounces in a pound?"
"Yes, so divide the one pound prices by 16 to get the price per ounce."
"$2.77 divided by 16 is 0.173125 and $2.98 divided by 16 is 0.18625. The shredded bag is cheaper, but Shoshana why did you make me do that on the calculator? I know $2.77 is less than $2.98."
"Just testing ya, Ben. Just testing. Seriously, I guess I wasn't paying attention. But, should we buy the two 8 oz bags for $1.68 instead? Divide $1.68 by 8 to figure the price per ounce."
"That is 21 cents. The better deal is the 1 lb. bag of shredded cheese. That makes me happy because I didn't want to grate the cheese anyway."
We continued shopping and comparing prices. Tomatoes were $1.18 per lb. or 7.4 cents per ounce, bananas varied from 52 cents a pound to 74 cents for the organic ones. The 4.6 oz box of taco shells was $1.58 for 12 shells and the 6.89 oz box was $1.88 or 30 cents more for 6 more taco shells. We were getting hungry and decided 18 tacos sounded better than a dozen. Once we got home, I was curious and was happy to learn we saved 7 cents per ounce by buying the extra 1/2 dozen shells. Ben talked me out of buying Mrs. Jarmillio's special taco season because it was $0.98 versus the store brand of $0.68 per oz.
"Shoshana, I think we should go into the seasoning and spice business. Look at these prices. Ground black pepper is $3.33 for that little 3 oz can. That is $1.11 per ounce. No wonder Daddy said that stuff ain't cheap."
We had gotten everything on our list except cereal. Ben was insisting on the Fruity Frosted Loops® and I was having a hard time convincing him to buy the Toasted Cinnamon Crunch Squares® when we looked up and I ran down the aisle.
"Herr Specht. How are you?" I asked giving him a hug.
"Hi," Ben said, as he brought the cart to meet us.
"What brings you kids here?"
"Momma sent us to the store to buy stuff for tacos."
"You would be proud of us. We are comparing prices and trying to use math to find the best deals," I added.
"Yep, and we were just about to buy us some Fruity Frosted Loops® cereal. The giant size box costs $3.48 and the big bag costs $6.98. I think we should buy two boxes because that would be the same price as one bag."
"Good observation, Ben. But how much is in the bag versus the boxes?"
"The bag says there are 50 ounces and each box says they're 1 lb. 5.7 oz. So, we'd get over 2 lbs of cereal if we bought the boxes."
"Ben, how many ounces are in one box?"
"One pound is 16 oz and another 5.7 oz added to that makes 21.7 oz in each box so two boxes would be double that or 43.4 oz. Wow, I guess the 50 oz bag is the better deal then."
"You're probably correct, but there is more to consider when making purchasing decisions besides the price and per ounce comparisons. It would take a single guy like me several months to eat that much cereal. Plus, I don't need that much sugar in my diet. The smaller box would probably be the better deal for me. Sometimes spending a little more will save you money in the long run. I assume you eat a lot of cereal, so you'd probably save money by buying the bag. Do you have something to put the cereal in when you get home or a way to seal the bag?"
"Yes. We use the Gripstic® to seal our bags and keep our food fresh," I said.
"Shoshana, next time, I promise we can buy the Toasted Cinnamon Crunch Squares®. We'd better get going, Momma is probably wondering about us."
"Yeah, I never knew shopping took so much time and brain power."
"You kids need a ride?"
"No. We have our van," Ben said.
We said our goodbyes to Herr Specht, promised to keep in touch, and headed home to help Momma fix the tacos. I was extremely hungry, yet kept the van below the posted speed limit.
"These tacos are the best," Ben said. "Did you know taco cat is spelled the same both frontwards and backwards?"
"What's that got to do with anything?" Daddy asked.
"Nothing, I just wondered if you knew that."
"Aren't those called palindromes?" Momma asked.
"Yes, words or phrases which can be read backwards and forwards are palindromes. Some of my favorites are: racecar, Madam, wow, mom, dad, and Bob. And, 'Murder for a jar of red rum,' is my favorite sentence."
"Do geese see God?" Ben asked.
"What?" Momma asked.
"Do geese see God? I thought we were sharing palindromes. And, we can't forget about Stanley Yelnats, noon, radar, and civic."
"Who's Stanley, whatever you said?" Momma asked.
"He's the kid in the movie 'Holes' based on the book by Louis Sachar."
Ben had gotten me started. "No lemon, no melon. No desserts, I stressed on. Kayak salad: Alaska yak."
"Shoshana, go hang a salami, I'm a lasagna hog. Was it a car or a cat I saw?"
"I swear these were the best tasting tacos I've ever had," I said as I finished my fourth one.
"You kids need to finish your tacos, do your homework, and get ready for bed."
Read Chapter 1--Fraction Bar
Read Chapter 2--Pizza Pi
Read Chapter 4--The Wall Of Division
Read Chapter 5--Calendar Magic
Read Chapter 6--Opposites Attract
(NIV) Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW
Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society.
Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.