When I was 15 years old, I worked at a local bagel bakery and deli in Pikesville, Maryland, one of Baltimore's most affluent suburbs. It was a great starter job, as it taught me a lot about irrational behavior.
One of my favorite ridiculous moments came from my first month of employment there. The price of dairy products had gone up, and the deli was forced to raise the price of butter from $0.10 to $0.15. Granted, it was a 50% increase in price, but it was still only a nickel more. An elegant matron dressed in fur from head to toe and wearing diamonds that could easily have put several doctors through medical school came in to order a bagel with butter.
I explained to her about the change in price, pointing to the sign the owner had posted.
The elegant lady curled her lip.
"15 cents for butter! Why that's outrageous. I'll eat my bagel dry. Humpf!"
Part of me wanted to pay for the extra nickel myself. Part of me wondered if paying attention to five cent changes adds up enough over a lifetime so that you can eventually afford fur coats and diamond jewelry. But mostly I just wondered if the woman knew how cheap she looked.
Have you ever caught someone acting penny wise and pound foolish?