Where Do Your Loyalties Lie?

I am a loyal guy.  Sometimes to a fault.

I could write at length about the importance of loyalty.  I am a Jewish person by birth and strive to be a mensch, which includes being loyal to loved ones and honoring your promises and commitments.

Some of those who I am loyal to include (in a four-way tie) my wife, my mother and my two children.  Perhaps expanding to a six-way tie, I am loyal to my younger sister and brother, although I do not have as many opportunities to display my loyalty to them.

I am loyal to the girl who may love me the most, my lovely Morkie, who is very much a daddy's girl.

I am loyal to my former boss, the grizzled and wise veteran who hired me thirteen years ago this May and who served as my boss until eight months ago.  I have a new, young, more aggressive Millennial boss now who does not quite understand what it is that I do and how I do it.

While I am respectful to my new boss and he generally treats me and his other "underlings" fairly, I am no more loyal to him than I would be to someone unknown to me.  If I left my current place of employment, I doubt that I would feel the need to return a call or email from him, although I know that I probably would because I have learned many things along the way.

One of the things that I have learned is that if you burn a bridge, you may come to regret it.  If I left the town that I work for and moved two towns over, it would not surprise me if he left six months later and became my boss at the new town.  He has stated to me on several occasions that he anticipates moving to another town within the next five years.

I suppose that the better way for me to state it is that I do not have loyalty to my current boss in my heart.  Given the chance to choose loyalties, I would choose my former boss over my current one.

The loyalty that I am thinking about today are those gosh-darned store loyalty cards.  I freaking hate them.

Used to be, I shopped regularly at Jewel and Dominick's, the two grocery stores that dominated in the Chicago market for many decades.

Image result for dominick's fresh value card
I carried a Dominick's loyalty card for twenty years.
Now that Dominick's has gone out of business in December 2013 and Jewel no longer requires you to scan a loyalty card, I thought about my dislike for these cards last week as I had to dig three of them out in one day: one for Walgreens, one for Mariano's and one for Panera.

Some of the loyalty cards and gift cards in my wallet today.
As a middle aged middle class Money Mensch, I carry many other cards around with me in my wallet including gift cards from Starbucks, Great Clips and Lou Malnati's, my one credit card, my bank card, insurance cards for both of our vehicles, membership cards for multiple organizations, health and dental insurance cards, my driver's license, work ID, library card and on and on...

I probably carry twenty-five cards with me at any given time.

Every so often, I get a free bagel, coffee, treat or a few dollars off at Panera.  Same goes for Walgreens, where I cashed out $20 worth of rewards points while buying stocking stuffers for the wife and kids this past December.  I have yet to save very much with Mariano's, who changed over to a "new card" a few months ago and all of the points that I have accumulated over the past few years vanished into thin air.

The two businesses that I am actually most loyal to are probably Dairy Queen and Jersey Mike's.  Of course, DQ does not require any loyalty cards, points, etc.  They just keep making affordable soft serve products that I have liked since my father took me there as a little kid.  Jersey Mike's does have a points system, which you participate in by typing your phone number into the keypad as you pay.  I buy so many sandwiches there that I qualify for a free giant sub every few months.

Image result for jersey mike's giant #6
I will be splitting a free giant #6 sub from Jersey Mike's with my son next weekend.

When it comes to my overabundance of cards, I'll just give another Starbucks card to our daughter, who likes the fancy expensive specialty drinks from there more than I do.  I will take my son to Great Clips next weekend, forcing a haircut upon him, and will come a little closer to using up one of the prepaid haircut cards that I have bought for two straight years, and we will probably order some pizza from Lou Malnati's next weekend, inching closer to being able to use up the gift card that I purchased around New Year's ($100 gift card with $25 bonus).

I may wind up fighting my way through the big snow and shopping at Mariano's today, where I scan my loyalty card.  Am I loyal to the store?  Not really, but I do shop there.  For those of you familiar with the Chicago area, Mariano's supplanted Dominick's a few years ago and took over many of their closed locations.  However, being the smart man that he is, Bob Mariano sold his expanding and successful chain of stores at its height of popularity to Kroger.  The stores have gone noticeably downhill since that time, which my wife calls the "Krogerizing" of Mariano's.  Less fresh produce, dirtier aisles, less staffing, and more discontent staff is all very noticeable to those who notice such things, like me and my wife.

As I began by stating, I am by nature a loyal person.  Part of being a mensch is being loyal to those who deserve it, and I have loyalty in spades.

But even though I am forced to swipe my Walgreens, Panera and Mariano's card does not mean that I am actually loyal to them.  I just carry the cards with me, thus letting them track where, when and what I purchase all in the name of saving a buck here and there.

Thus, my loyalty must be more geared towards saving a few bucks here and there than it is to the actual businesses.

I suspect that you have loyalty cards, perhaps more than I do, in the name of saving a few bucks here and there too.