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They say you're not supposed to go supermarket shopping on an empty stomach - you're likely to buy stuff you don't need because you're hungry (http://tinyurl.com/o6ntyp). But "they" have never gone supermarket shopping in Israel on a Thursday night; anyone who does learns very quickly that it's best to come hungry! Burekas, pasta, yogurt, pretzels, humous, newfangled juice drinks - that was just a partial list of the offerings available for sampling by customers in the super-mega-club-deal market we went to the other day.
The sample stands inside the market are staffed by polite and courteous young people who seem to enjoy watching customers scarf down the vegetarian schnitzel or hot dogs they're offering. Like it? Here, have another! The truth is, they give away so much free food in the big markets that it's worth going through the aisles first to scope out what's available. That way, you can plan out your "meal" from "soup to nuts" (sometime literally). Then, when you've had your fill, you can start shopping - no longer hungry.
Why do the big food makers give away samples? To get you to buy the product, of course; if you enjoy the sample, you might go for the "full version." Obviously, the strategy works, because every week it seems that there are more samples than the week before - with the apex of giveaways usually before holidays. But even we, the cheapskates who make sure to buy only what's on our list, can benefit - after all, there's no rule that you have to buy the full product if you enjoyed the sample.
Here's the computer connection: MyFax, which allows users to send PDFs, e-mail and text documents from computers to fax machines - a service which usually costs at least $100 a year - recently started a free, no-strings-attached faxing service, open to everybody. Just surf to http://www.myfax.com/free/, fill out the phone number you want to send a fax to and upload a document (up to nine pages long) to the site. Within minutes, it gets spit out on the "other side" as a bona fide fax - for free. Need to fax some more? Go right ahead - you can send two faxes a day from the site, free. Obviously, they're doing this to get you to sign up for the full service. But can cheapskates use the service too? Yes, they can! My advice: Take advantage of free MyFax before they find out that we penny-pinchers have gotten wind of it.