Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cheap is not always good

I have come to the realization that it is not always wise for me to make all the decisions in our family. I tend to be frugal and downright cheap. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. A couple weeks ago my husband and I had a Monday without kids, and we decided to visit the Denver Museum of Nature and Science in order to see the exhibit on Genghis Khan. Checking the online information before we left home, I saw that we could either purchase our tickets online (which was recommended by the website) or we could purchase them when we arrived. Admittance was in 15 minute increments until 4:00 pm. I noticed that purchasing online tickets cost an additional $2.00 per ticket and I scoffed at the additional $4.00 that it would cost us. I wasn’t willing to pay the extra $4.00 due to my thrifty tendencies.

My first indication that we should have purchased online came as we entered the parking lot, a chaotic scene of cars complicated by large snow icebergs in various locations blocking the normal flow of traffic. After circling the parking lot for awhile, we gave up, parked at the zoo and make the walk to the museum, only to be shocked at the waiting line to purchase exhibition tickets. As we stood in line at approximately 11:30 am, the available entrance times began dwindling (they actually show this on a screen in the lobby, like a countdown). By the time we got our tickets, we were assigned the 2:45 pm entrance time. Great, we have almost three hours to kill in the museum. Normally that might not be too bad, but we picked the Monday after Christmas and virtually every kid in Denver and their parents thought a trip to the museum would be a great way to spend the day. As we wandered through the exhibits, mind you, with no kids of our own with us, we were pushed and shoved by every other kid there. My husband even had a little girl put her hand in his back jeans pocket, evidently mistaking him for her own dad for a moment. Or maybe she was a three-year-old pickpocket in training? Either way, our “day without kids” was full of other people’s kids screaming and crying.

By the time the clock struck 2:45 and we were ready to see Genghis Khan, we both looked like we could barely walk or hear ourselves think anymore. We had viewed more stuffed buffalo and mountain lions and polar bears in dioramas than anyone should have to look at in a lifetime. We had at least taken a short break in the museum cafĂ© so we could nourish our tired bodies and minds (if a pizza slice, trail mix, and a diet coke count as nourishing). It’s too bad they don’t serve beer and wine there. We entered the exhibit in less than prime form and spent an hour learning about Genghis Khan and looking at Mongolian artifacts.

I enjoyed the exhibit, even if all I could think about near the end was going home and lying on my bed in complete silence and darkness. I skipped making a cool Genghis Khan Souvenir hat because I was just so tired of it all. The hat was just slightly better than a Burger King crown anyway. I figured I could live without it.

Next time we decide to do something like this, I will let my husband plan the day. I won’t even ask how much he paid for anything. I’ve learned frugality has its limits.

Peggy McNeal

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