Half-Price Honeymoon

Contrary to what you might have read in The Devil Wears Prada or Love Monkey, there are plenty of benefits to a low-level job in publishing. Even if my job as an Acquisitions Assistant at the Penn Press is essentially that of a glorified secretary, I still get my share of perks: dental insurance, unrestricted high-speed internet access, free Penn Press tote bags, a one-block walk to work, and of course, whole heap-loads of free books (albeit ones I’ll never readbut still, nice bookshelf filler). Some people might question the financial compensation, and whether a job that pays in the mid-twenties makes the late-night shift at McDonald’s attractive. And these smug bastards are dead right. But when a Penn Press book like Understanding Terror Networks is featured prominently in a New Yorker article on al-Qaeda, or Negro League Baseball gets the cover of the New York Times Book Review, I put all thoughts of McGriddle flipping out of mind. Call me a sucker for the passing interest of high-brow intellectuals.

So, by and large, I’m proud of my job, of my honorable duty to bring recycled dissertations to the masses. But if there’s one thing I’m not proud of, it’s that the job has turned me into a compulsive coupon clipper.

I used to recoil in disgust at the nincompoops who present $2-off Swiffer coupons in the check-out line. Now, I fear, I’ve joined their ranks. It all started with the successful purchase of our car, a Pontiac Vibe, which, through the use of umpteen rebates and discounts, I was able to get for $6,000 off the sticker price. Soon, deals that hadn’t seemed intriguing beforewhen I was living in New York, earning twice what I am nowsuddenly became irresistible. Furniture sales, free movie-ticket offers, obscure marinade discounts. These days, when marketing with Ana I’ll always reshelf the preferred brand in favor of the two-for-one option. I make the woman at the cash register wait in constipated agony while I rifle through my pockets for the latest Listerine voucher. In only a couple months, this practice has become something of an obsession. No, I haven’t just joined the nincompoops’ ranks; I’ve become the skipper of the S.S. Coupon Clipper.

If you need proof, look no further than the recent purchase of my honeymoon trip to Belize. In my post about Trip Advisor, I mentioned the destination we’d settled upon, but I consciously omitted the part about how we we’re paying for it. It probably comes as no surprise that I immediately hit up my sister, Stacey, for 60,000 airline miles to get free tickets on American. (Even in my pre-coupon days, I was this kind of mooch.) But it was in purchasing a package to two Francis Ford Coppola resorts that I really exposed my inner cheapskate. On the advice of wedding guru MelDave (aka Melody Kellenberger), I went to a website called LuxuryLink.com, which happened to have the exact same Belize package I was planning onexcept it was being auctioned for half price. There’s probably some rule in the wedding handbooks that says you shouldn’t buy your honeymoon on clearance or chance your future on an Internet auction. And if there is, that person never worked in publishing, and they better not show their ass face at a university press anytime soon. I bid on the package, and God help me, we won!

In the end, though, we didn’t get the “surf-to-turf” package for half off, as hoped for. My plan was simple: bid at the last possible second, sniping the auction as one would on eBay. It turns out that Luxury Link is hip to this tactic, and they have a rule that if any bids are placed within the last five minutes, the auction is automatically extended by five minutes to allow for counter-bidding. More bids extend the auction even longer. It’s a fair rule, I suppose, but one that I wasn’t aware of until after the auction was initially supposed to close. Here I was, thinking that I’d won the package for $1,500 under its market value, and along comes Marie2467. I refresh the screen two minutes after the official end-time, and suddenly Marie has outbid me. (Another benefit of publishing: The ability to scream What the F—? at the top of your lungs at the office, and not get any complaints.) Thus ensued a bidding war, where two other lurkers popped in and ultimately drove up the price by about $300.

I’m still thrilled that I got the package for hundreds less than what the resorts wanted to charge. And I highly recommend that anyone looking for a vacation on the cheap check out LuxuryLink.com. My friend Andy speculated that I might have been hoodwinked, saying that some of these sites have phantom bidders who show up at the last moment to inflate the prices closer to market-rate. But upon further inspection, there are more than a few auctions I saw that went for a fraction of the retail price. Plus, the site has been heavily reviewed and it’s endorsed by Forbes, so I believe that it’s legit. My purchase went smoothly, and despite some testy back-and-forths with a disgruntled hotel agent in Belize, we’re now happily booked at both Coppola resorts.

Now I just have to figure out what kind of deals they’ve got on spider monkeys and cockatoos in Belize. Maybe they’ll be willing to barter for twenty or so copies of the Parrot Culture and Veterinary Acupuncture.