Attention shoppers, there’s a crazy lady in the cleaning products aisle

Feb. 23, 2013 @ 04:10 AM

My current list of goals is short. I want a serene and happy family. I want to be more mindful of all my daily blessings. And, I would like a box of Gain detergent.

Only my stubborn refusal to shell out $9.75 is keeping us apart.

It’s the most heady-smelling stuff on earth, but I’ve somehow convinced myself that if I cave on this ridiculous price for laundry detergent – laundry detergent! – I’ll plunge my family into permanent insolvency.

So, like an urchin loitering at the perfume counter, each week you can find me at the grocery store taking wistful sniffs of a box of Gain under my nose – and staring resentfully at the shoppers who reach over me to take a box off the shelf and put it in their shopping cart.

The irony here (with me, there usually is one) is that I’m only sporadically prudent when it comes to household finances.

Example: within three months of moving to Rutherford County, I received a personal phone call from the Broad River Water Authority advising that our address was using an unusually high number of gallons of water.

I was so caught off guard I immediately made a personal confession.

“I prefer baths to showers. Is that it?” I whispered into the phone.

The culprit actually turned out to be my habit of running both the washing machine and the dishwasher for most of the daylight hours, plus the thrice-daily refilling of my son’s plastic backyard pool.

When economists insist the market is shaped by the rational purchasing decisions of millions of consumers, you really have to wonder if they’re including shoppers like me in their calculations. The idea of splurging even once on premium detergent makes me feel faint. But our regular monthly bill for the precious molecule of life? Bring all your kids and dirty dishes over! The water’s on me!

If I truly want a box of Gain one day, I’m just going to have to let Tony do more of the shopping. (What’s holding me back now is that no matter the time of the year, he inevitably comes back with all the fixings for a Super Bowl party.)

Typically, he makes at least one nonchalant purchase of some item I’ve coveted for months. The last time it was those little individually wrapped dishwasher tablets with the neon orange pellets in the middle. When I saw a bag of them nestled under the chips and soda he brought home, my heart leaped into my mouth.

“Can we afford these?” I gasped.

Tony stared at me for several seconds before responding maybe if I cut back on the water.

You know something? After all this agonizing over a silly box of detergent, I believe I’ve officially talked myself into buying a box of Gain. The only decision left to make now is which scent to choose.

Let’s see, there’s Island Fresh and Floral Fusion. There’s Ocean Escape and Apple Mango Tango. Heavens, they’ve even got something called Icy Fresh Fizz with Oxy Booster…

Just my luck. It turns out Gain comes in 11 different scents.

At $9.75 a box, I can’t afford to choose the wrong one.


Stephanie Janard is a mother and full-time copywriter. She lives in Spindale. To reach Stephanie, email