The perks and quirks of membership

Joe Pisani bemoans the endless cycle of shoveling snow.

Joe Pisani bemoans the endless cycle of shoveling snow.

Joe Pisani /

Whenever I sign in at the doctor’s office, there’s usually a stressful moment or two while I rummage through my wallet, trying to find my insurance cards. Sometimes I hand the receptionist my Ocean State Job Lot card instead, just to keep her occupied while I search for my AARP card.

It feels like I’m being pulled over by the cops and have to claw through the glove compartment for my registration and car insurance.

The problem is I have too many cards and too little cash in my wallet. I don’t need all these cards, except WHEN I need them and can’t find them ... if that makes sense.

I carry around a lot of membership cards because I’m an important man. For example, I’m a member in good standing at ShopRite, Stop & Shop, Big Y, CVS and a steakhouse that closed its restaurants in Connecticut but is still open in New Mexico in case I ever decide to take a road trip. In addition, my Barnes and Noble membership gives me the privilege of buying books at just about full price. Nevertheless, it’s a lot cheaper than being a member at Greenwich Country Club.

Instead of keeping all these cards in my wallet, it might be easier if I put them on a chain around my neck like Army dog tags, even though that would mean I’d have to unbutton my shirt every time I go to the supermarket to buy a rotisserie chicken for the dog — organic with no seasoning or GMO, because that’s what she has to eat per orders of my wife, the chief doggie dietician.

When the vet told us to feed her Cesar’s dog chow, she told him, “This dog will never eat Cesar’s, Alpo or Gravy Train!” So I go to the supermarket every other day for a fresh chicken because the dog doesn’t like leftovers. Fortunately, with my ShopRite membership, the chickens are cheaper on Monday, and there’s a special sushi deal on Friday.

Once a year I clean out my wallet to avoid exceeding its maximum capacity. To cut down on the number of cards I carry, I tried using a phone number instead, but I can never remember which phone number to use — mine, my wife’s or my daughter’s.

My wife doesn’t have this problem because her purse is about the size of our mailbox, which means it can accommodate credit cards, expired and unexpired, a driver’s license, a passport, an iPhone or two, operable and inoperable, along with a variety of Hallmark greeting cards for various last minute occasions like a graduation, wedding or funeral.

Cleaning out my wallet requires me to make hard decisions about what should stay and what should go. For example, I need to keep my driver’s license, along with my insurance cards, my drug plan card, my dental card, my Social Security card and my AAA road repair card.

And I don’t want to get rid of my gift cards to Plan B Burger Bar, Target, Starbucks and Home Depot or those coffee club cards that let you have a free latte after you buy nine of them. I even have a club card from a Japanese tea bar, where I’d go for matcha in the afternoon to keep me from falling asleep at my workstation.

I have more credit cards than one compulsive spender should be allowed by law, in addition to my AARP membership, AARP Road ‘N Tow, AARP health insurance, AARP frequent flyer, Brooks Brothers and Petco. Lastly, there’s a medal of my patron saint that says, “St. Joseph Protect Us,” which I desperately need.

I usually put the expired and expendable cards in a shoe box, where I’ve been storing them since the late 1980s. I’m sure my collection will someday be an exciting discovery for some 22nd century archeologist.

When I look at my membership cards, I feel special. I feel wanted. I feel needed. I belong. As American Express says, “membership has its privileges” ... even at Ocean State Job Lot.

Joe Pisani can be reached at