“FIRE!” I heard while going up and down the aisles in the local Pamida store. I’d just added five Reach toothbrushes, two clearance-priced Listerines and 11 Covergirl clearance-priced items to my cart and was bemoaning the fact that nothing else was marked down low enough to make the double coupon opportunity worth my while.
“FIRE!” I heard it again as I came around the corner, and this time I saw the boy who was yelling it. He couldn’t have been more than 8 years old, and just as I was thinking his mother should have taught him never to yell such a thing in a public place, I saw a woman running towards him.
“There is a fire!” she screamed. “Someone call 911!”
Another woman yelled towards the front of the store, “There’s a fire in the store! Call 911!”
The boy and his mother stood there, staring at dark smoke coming from a bin full of blankets and pillows. A store clerk came to see what was going on, and she started screaming to the other employees. “There’s a fire! Call 911,” as she pulled blankets and pillows out of the pile. Flames leaped up towards the ceiling, and another customer screamed, “Get a bucket! Throw some water on it.” Several customers rushed towards the front of the store, pulling their children behind them and screaming. The boy and his mother still stood staring at the scene.
I was torn. Do I leave my cart unattended and risk losing those 18 items that would be free with coupons, or keep shopping?
“The fireman are on their way,” another cashier called out to her colleague, just as a young man from the back room came out with a fire extinguisher and sprayed.
And just like that, the fire was out, though dark smoke billowed throughout the store.
And the good little couponer I am, despite the acrid smell of smoke permeating the store, I kept shopping, adding a single can of Glade spray that would also be free, three packages of clearance-priced Hanes socks that would be $1 after coupons and a scrapbooking kit that was marked down t0 $7.50 from $24. Everything in the picture, along with three 3-packs of socks, cost me less than $2.
I’d driven the extra 15 miles to Dyersville from my mother’s house for this double coupon opportunity.
I wasn’t about to let something like a fire in the middle of the store stop me.