I was recently talking to a friend—a mother of four daughters ranging in age from 18 to 5—about her departure for London, which would take place the next day. Her oldest daughter is starting college in the fall so the family decided it would be a good time to take one last “family vacation” before life got more complicated and her oldest daughter either spent extra time at school or toiling away at a full-time job.
I asked her what time the car service was picking up the family. She seemed surprised that I asked. “We never take car service,” was her response. Her husband drives everyone to the terminal, drops them off, and then travels to some remote location on the border of Queens and Long Island and parks the car in long-term parking. That’s four children, one mom, six suitcases, and six carry-on bags. And because they’re going to London, six umbrellas. He returns to the terminal, hot and sweating and shaky from the excursion, hoping that he can reconnect with the family on the ticket line. “How do you usually get to the airport?” she asked.
“Car service,” I explained. There is no way in hell that I’m attempting to drive me, or god forbid, me and the family, to JFK. Driving to the airport in the New York metropolitan area is akin to being stabbed to death by ten thousand paper cuts. It’s long, it’s tortuous, and it never ends well. But for my friend, whose family could afford the luxury of car service, taking said service is a non-negotiable. It’s just not something that they do. They’ve always driven themselves to the airport and always put the car in long-term parking and that’s what they’ll continue to do.
My friend and I started talking about the non-negotiables in our lives and decided that we had a few in common one being the combined ATM/Visa card. I received one of these recently from our bank and promptly put it in a drawer. Why? 1) Because I didn’t order it from the bank and 2) because I only want an ATM card that dispenses money when I need it. I don’t need any more credit. I also don’t want to complicate things by not knowing if I’m debiting or charging or both. I want to use my debit card to take money from my account and my separate Visa card to charge things for which I don’t actually have the money for on that given day. My husband, Jim, asked me about the combo card the other day, having fielded a call from the bank. “Did you get your combined ATM/Visa card?” he asked, innocently enough. After the diatribe he received from me about how I didn’t ask for it and would never use it, his eyes went glassy and he said that I could talk to the bank the next time they called.
Another non-negotiable? Paying ATM fees. I will walk a thousand miles before I use an ATM from a bank that is not my own and that will charge anywhere from $2.50 to $8.00 to take my own money out of my own account. It’s not that I can’t afford the charge but it just bakes my scrod to give another bank money to use my money to pay for something.
One more non-negotiable: getting my hair dyed professionally. I am a $6 box of hair dye girl and by all accounts, do a pretty darn good job. I just will not pay $50 or more to sit in a chair and have someone else dye my hair when the $6 bottle does just as good a job as the $50 or more colorist. And if you need proof, ask the northern half of Evelyn David; she’s always complimenting my dye job and although she’s a good friend, I don’t think she’s lying. (Are you?)
However, I won’t drive even two miles from home to get cheaper gas. If I need gas, I pull into the nearest gas station and purchase it, regardless of cost. And since I live in an area that is notorious for higher-than-usual gas prices, chances are that I’ve spent in excess of five hundred dollars or more over the last twenty years purchasing expensive gas. But I just don’t care. It’s not worth it to me to make an extra trip or drive further than I need to. My mother is always asking me, “What do you pay for gas?” just so she can hear me say (I’m convinced), “I don’t know.”
I know that not paying an extra $2.50 to get money from a non-sanctioned ATM does not jibe with someone paying extra for gas, but as I said, this post is about non-negotiables which basically boils down to what we can and cannot stand for. I’d love to hear what your non-negotiables are. Do you abhor cheap wine? (I love it.) Or do you not buy generic or less-expensive brands of toiletries? (I buy a lot of Suave products but just so I can hear child #2 ask where the “SWAVE” body wash is.) Weigh in, dear readers.