You guys, Penny has nothing to do with this entry, but I feel as though my readership has split down the middle into “Shut up, show us the baby” and “Put your damn baby away and talk about something that doesn’t poop.” So. I compromise.
Ok, Internet. We all buy things. We buy all kinds of things. Sometimes, those things stop working. I mean, eventually. I guess everything stops working at some point. My mom’s got HER mom’s Kitchen Aid mixer and IT hasn’t stopped working, but I assume that the day will eventually come.
But normally, stuff stops working, and you hope it’s at some reasonable point. What I am wondering is this (are these?): what factors determine when it is acceptable for something to have stopped working, and what factors determine what you do about something that has stopped working?
I was thinking, when I was… thinking… before… that it’s obviously some combination of price and time. That is, how much it cost you to buy the whatever, and how long before it went all to hell.
Then I realized, though, that what the whatever is would probably have to factor in as well. Like, extreme examples:
Say you paid $1 for a can opener (one of those hand ones, not those fancy electric ones with the knife sharpener in the back that no one actually uses). If the can opener opened a single can and then fell apart in your hands, you’d be like, “Damn can opener! I’m glad I had but one can to open for my dinner this evening!” And then you’d move on. You wouldn’t sit there, stewing over your single sad can of tuna.
I don’t know why I’ve made you into some kind of weird loner who eats a tuna directly from a single can for dinner each night, while plotting your revenge against can opener manufacturers. I’m sorry.
If your can opener cost $10 and it broke on the first tuna can, you’d probably be pretty mad. You might even throw it on the floor in a rage, depending on how open you got the can and how badly you wanted that tuna.
“And TIIIIIIIIME… goes BY!… so sloooooowly…”
I should note here that not only do I not ever eat canned tuna, but when Phil dared eat some last week, I wouldn’t do the dishes for days until he handled the TUNA SINK. If you eat tuna in my house and then you rinse off your plate in the sink, any dishes already in the sink and any dishes added to whatever is already in the sink is NOT MY PROBLEM until YOU handle the TUNA SINK. Your best bet is to handle it post haste, or you will be washing every dish in the house, because I take tuna contamination seriously.
Anyway, if your $10 can opener last 4 or 6 or 8 months and broke, you probably wouldn’t think anything of chucking it and getting a new one, because by that time, you’d probably have forgotten how much you paid for your can opener, and you’d probably never really given any thought to how long you expected a can opener to last.
But say your can opener – a hand crank dealie – cost $30. What would you do then if it broke on the first can? Or what would you do if it broke 6 months down the road? Because I imagine that if you spend $30 on a hand crank can opener, every time you have some tuna, you think to yourself, “I’m opening my tuna with my $30 can opener.” Because how could you NOT?
BUT. What if you bought a car that cost $30? And it broke on the first time out? You’d be like, “Ah, well. Who expects much from a $30 car? I mean, Laura Ingalls Wilder would probably expect a lot from a $30 car but she could buy plow parts for a nickle, so. You know. It’s all relative.”
And if your $30 car last SIX MONTHS? You’d probably high five yourself all the way home, even if it was kind of raining and you had to wait a while for a ride. It would be hard to be too mad about that.
So, I figure it’s obviously not just a matter of what an item cost and how long it lasts, but obviously also of what the item is.
So, say the item is… a something you use regularly. Let’s say a fancy TV clicker. Something you’re using multiple times a day, and you didn’t really need the fancy one, but you figured, “Hey, I use this a lot, I’m going to spring for the nice one,” even though it was kind of slightly out of your comfortable price range. You’ve treated yourself to a small bit of luxury, is what I’m saying. It doesn’t have to be a clicker. Maybe it’s… one of those beady seat covers, like in taxis. Whatever. Just go with me.
So, think of your item and assign it a price that is slightly more than you’d normally consider paying for such a thing, and remind yourself that you’ve decided that something you use so constantly is worth a little extra cash sometimes. And you know what? You’re worth it, too. Anyway, you need to think up your own item for this scenario. Think it up now. This is an exercise. I’m not going to tell you an item, you need to THINK OF ONE.
So you’ve paid for your item, whatever it is, and it falls just over the line into “luxury” due to its price, and that line is different for everyone and every item, which is why you needed to come up with your own.
Now, how long do you expect this item to last? More importantly, where’s the line between breaking due to normal wear and tear, and breaking due to oh HELL no? You know what I mean? Like, if your item wears out at the very earliest that “wearing out” could be even slightly reasonable, that would be really annoying, but what are you going to do? It wore out. But anything BEFORE what is even remotely reasonable for wearing out, based on item and money spent, would fall into the “oh HELL no” category, where you’d be totally outraged about the money spent for item enjoyment duration.
And still thinking of your item, now combined with your general personality traits, what do you DO when something falls into the “oh HELL no” category of breaking? I think this is not so much a function of price and time, but more of each individual person.
Do you get mad and go out and replace it?
Do you get REALLY mad and swear you’ll never buy that brand again and go out and replace it with a different variety?
Do you write to the company and tell them, hey, your thing broke, WELL before the “oh HELL no” time period of thing ownership was up, what do you intend to do about it?
As you may have guessed by now, this is about me, because, come on.
I’ve never been a “write to the company-er.” I don’t know why. I mean, I’ve had plenty of things break in the “oh HELL no” phase, just like anyone else. I guess I kind of feel like writing a letter to the company or whatever would make me look… greedy? Grabby? I don’t know. But it WOULDN’T, not if I was writing within the “oh HELL no” time period, because things breaking that quickly is unreasonable.
Basically, I am concerned about what strangers at a company that manufactures the occasional faulty product might think of me. But maybe THEY should be afraid of what I think about THEM! And their faulty product!
(They probably don’t care.)
“Are you… still MIIIIIIIIIIIiiiiii-IIIIIIeeeeeIIINE?”
I have an item that, for my entire pregnancy, I intended to buy but did not. The price, for me, put it just over the line I talked about above, and since there were several varieties available, I felt like I needed to really think it out and make sure I NEEDED this product before purchasing. I’m not going to tell you what it IS, because what I consider over that line and what other people consider over that line are two different things, and I don’t need anyone being all, “Come on! It’s only $XX!”
You know how when you read a magazine and they do a whole page of “MUST HAVES FOR SUMMER! If you don’t have these MUST HAVES, you might as well go live in a hole! Don’t worry, though, we’ve divided them into splurge and save!”
Bathing suit: $1 jillion!
Save on this clearly crappier version: $1 half jillion!
And you go through the whole list, looking for SOME MUST HAVE that you can actually HAVE and you finally get to something that seems like it should be reasonable.
Nail polish in the color you HAVE TO HAVE OR YOU’LL DIE FRIENDLESS AND ALONE: $80
Save on this version that might get you a pity friend, if you always volunteer to DD: $65
Anyway, you see what I mean? I’m not telling the item because I don’t need you to tell me that it’s actually a SAVE, because NO. I DECIDE WHAT IS A SAVE.
This item is showing signs of wear – signs of wear that, over time, I’d consider pretty reasonable. However. Penny is still a week short of 2 months old, AND I’ve only been using this item with as it is INTENDED to be used for a couple of weeks. For me, for what this item cost and the fact that I have used it in a perfectly reasonable, perfectly textbook manner, I am still WELL within the “oh HELL no” phase.
Now, knowing me, I’ll continue using it until it is unusable, which isn’t that far off, judging by the signs now, then try to use it in some modified fashion, and then feel like I should replace it out of my own pocket because I used it for so long, EVEN THOUGH it was in CRAP ASS condition for most of that time. I am TRYING to convince myself to write a letter, because, what can they do to me?
(It seems I kind of half-assume they might write back some strongly worded “fuck you, sucker!” letter, which is a little out there in terms of assumptions about what a reasonable company might do, but I can’t help it – the mind leaps to irrational conclusions as it wants to.)
Anyway, forget my thing. My thing is stupid. Go back to your hypothetical thing. How do you determine how long your “oh HELL no” phase is? Are you a letter writer or an angry replacer? Have you ever gotten decent results from writing a letter, or did you get the dreaded “fuck you, sucker!” email?
Do you believe this shit? My mom’s such a wiener!