Issue 16

Consumer Commando


                I am on a mission to improve my standard of living through consumer electronics.  I used to fight against the introduction of gadgets into my house, having seen how useful essential tools like bread makers and pasta machines really are.  Do the math: after the first excitement wears off and the gadget finds a permanent home crammed in the back of a cabinet, you’ve still paid $20 a pound for that pain-in-the-butt fresh pasta.  But things have changed.

                I’m like a new convert to any religion: I used to fight against it tooth-and-nail, but now that I’ve seen the light, I’m going in gangbusters.   After we footed the bill for an expensive computer, how hard could it be to justify a new coffeemaker?  The email account we sprung for came with a free web page, so it’s only naturally that we put our son Skylar’s picture up in a cyberframe for the world to see: add one scanner and a brand new digital camera.  Of course the camera only made sense.  I’m thinking about all the money I’ll save on film development costs.

                One of the great joys of electronics stores is that they carry so much more than just the item you came in to buy. I simply didn’t know just how much I was missing out on.  The last stereo I bought was a $100, and it came with a record player and speakers.  I’m glad I’m enlightened enough now to know that I can get monolithic towers with lung-shaking surround sound for every room in the house. I don’t even have to run any speaker wires if I use wireless transceivers.  I’m ashamed to admit it but, recognizing that admitting one’s sins is the fastest way to recovery, I have never bought a TV in my life.  I don’t watch much except for movies on tape, but now I see why: I never had a television the size of a wall before.

                I have been missing out for too long, and I have a lot of ground to recover.  Originally Rebecca and I went to Costco only to buy toilet paper cheap, but…I shake in anticipation at the mere thought of going there.  Batteries by the brick, talking books, hot dog cookers, pneumatic tools.  How can words even begin to describe the thrill of upgrading one’s paper shredder?  I can’t wait until Skylar is big enough to push a third cart around so we can buy even more.  I know we don’t need a pallet of creamed corn every week, but how can I resist saving that much money every time we go?

                Weekends have become a series of campaigns.  Friday night, after all the strip malls have shut down, Rebecca and I fill out product rebate forms and plan out our strategy for the coming day.  Using military mapping software, we plot the most efficient driving route to hit all the stores we need to visit.  I’ve even installed a Global Positioning System (GPS) in the car to keep us on track to the nearest meter.

                What I don’t understand is the rush to close down all the stores by 6pm on Sundays.  But no matter.  We just discovered on-line shopping over the Internet.  Admittedly, it’s not as much fun as actually holding and touching the things I want to buy – how else could I have learned that I absolutely needed the foot bath massager unless I tried it first – but it does get us through those long Sunday nights.  On-line shopping also has the added charm of all those packages arriving in the mail.  Now it’s like Christmas several days each week.

                With such a cornucopia of valuable possessions, of course, there come some obvious considerations, the most important of which is protection. I recently called the insurance company and added a Consumer Commando rider to cover all of our new treasures in the event of fire, earthquake, tsunami, or nuclear fallout.  Having the digital camera paid off because I could take a picture of everything we owned except, of course, for the digital camera itself.  (I bought a new regular camera to do that.)  I also buy everything on the credit card that lets my son put peanut butter sandwiches in the VCR.

                My biggest worry, however, is theft.  I have enough cardboard boxes and peanuts to open my own packing plant.  I’m afraid to put them out on the street on recycling day for fear that someone will drive by and see all of the valuables I’ve got in my house.  It reminds me of those movies where the murderer discovers just how hard it is to get rid of a dead body.  With six feet of cardboard to dispose of each week, I have gained a new appreciation for such ingenuity.


Home ] Up ] Issue 17: It's a Family Recipe ]