Family, friends and frequent readers know well of my penchant for a bargain. From second-hand clothing to day old doughnuts, and from the past-date dog food I feed my mutts to the rust-bucket pickup truck I "picked up" for the princely sum of $600, if it’s used, outdated, dented or dog-eared it’s generally worthy of my attention.

It stands to reason then, that the first place my eyes land when I walk into our neighborhood store is the bargain box of blow-out stuff just inside the front door. As one of those drugstore/bric-a-brac/gallon-of-milk/6-pack-of-beer combination establishments, the bargain box often bursts as a cornucopia of random items. A recent stop yielded just such a sight.

The entire box was tagged with a big, yellow sign announcing "50% OFF." Many of the items were already tagged with the "red sticker of death" which is my family’s special name for things that are already marked down and destined either for immediate dispersal to bargain shoppers like me or eventual ditching in the Dumpster out back. This, of course, led me to puzzle over whether the sticker reflected the actual, current price, or whether the red tag price would be cut in half at the cash register.

I played a silent round of "The Price Is Right" in my head: So, if this can of sardines is marked 99 cents on the red tag, does that mean that it was originally $2? Or could the 99 cents be a larger discount than that? What, exactly, is a can of sardines even worth? What should an expired can of sardines bring on the open market? IS there an "open market" for sardines? I wonder if they sell sardines on Amazon. I’m going to Google "sardines" and get some answers! 

I was way down the rabbit hole of my mind when I heard a voice like that of an angel calling from the direction of the cash register.

"You know everything in that box is 50 percent off the red-tag price, right?" said the clerk, her blue vest hanging like a pair of wings at her sides.

"Bless you!" I said grabbing up sardines like a flock of sea gulls. Piling seven of the eight cans into my basket, I left one in the bargain box for good luck — or possibly in the subconscious hope I might return the next day to find it marked even lower!

With the fish in the basket there was only one question yet to be answered: Do I even like sardines?

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