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A homestead stuffed with more swag than a pirate ship

The government insists that there is no inflation. This should be all the proof you need that our leaders are living in another dimension. The bureaucrats must not shop in grocery stores or fill their cars up with gas.

But wait, get this: The formula the feds use to determine inflation does not include food or fuel costs!

I’m afraid I may be the person who is skewing the inflation figures, because other than groceries, I haven’t shopped in a store since they gave away trading stamps. The last time I bought clothes for myself was back when bell bottoms and tie-dyed t-shirts were in style. The reason I haven’t felt a need to buy any non-food items is because everybody keeps giving me things.

No, don’t get the wrong idea – I’m not a homeless person accepting bags of old clothes. The stuff I get is brand new and is known as “swag” by trendier folks than me.

Why do I need to buy a $20 ball cap when I have over 200 of them that were given to me? In my closet are more than 20 nice jackets that came from auction markets, breed associations, magazines and even a bank. Yes, you read that right: Even the tightwad banks, well known for chaining down their pens, are giving stuff away these days. No wonder we had a banking crisis.

My wife recently retired after 30 years of working in a grocery store, and I don’t miss her paycheck as much as I do all the swag she brought home. Many a friend has been given a Christmas present that was first given to my wife as a safety award.

My bureau overflows with free t-shirts promoting everything from pizza to breast cancer awareness, that she had to wear for a day or two in the checkstand. If they’d have given away free Levis and underwear, I’d never have to buy clothes again.

My favorite t-shirts were given to me by Al’s Septic Service. No, that’s not quite right; I was auctioneering a sale for the Chamber of Commerce when I made a wisecrack to the buyer of several such t-shirts because of the slightly offensive words on them.

His wife gave him such a hard time for buying them that after the auction, he gave them to me. I wear them proudly while working in my shop, but I have also kept one in nice condition for those fancy occasions when I need to dress up.

In my house are free calendars from Jerry Palen, Mad Jack Hanks and a beautiful Tim Cox one that Hoover gave me. I own several pieces of priceless fine art from the Rigid Tool Co., featuring scantily clad buxom broads holding pipe wrenches. I truly value my lifetime collection of datebooks that E.C. gave me and the beautiful photography books from C.J. at Range magazine.

My house runneth over with free ice scrapers, mouse pads, pocketknives, can coolers, calculators and mugs. If everyone is like me, no wonder the economy is in the tank. With all this swag, who needs to shop?

Every drawer in our house is stuffed with free pens and pencils and my goal in life is to accumulate more than 10,000 of them, like the fellow in the Midwest whose collection was sold at auction when he died. I can’t help myself; I pick up every pad of paper or pen I see, but I simply must start being more discerning.

The last time I was at the sale barn, I put a pen in my pocket without looking at it. My wife found it right before it went through the wash, and it turns out it came from the Kit Kat Ranch. Evidently it’s a house of ill repute in Nevada somewhere. Darn near cost me my marriage!

After my wife saw a show on television about hoarders, she insisted that I seek professional help. I don’t think I have a problem and didn’t want to pay to see a psychiatrist, so I asked my gastroenterologist about it. He said as far as he could tell, I’m almost sane.

The visit wasn’t totally wasted, because I came home with a swag bag full of pads of paper, nice pens, a stethoscope and a beautiful leather diary for 2010 that was only slightly used. At least, I think they were meant to be gifts …

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