Thursday, July 28, 2011

Impulse Control

Perhaps. But will anybody else?
My tendancy to shop on impulse is directly proportional to the cost of the item in question. I spend way too much time in the grocery store agonizing over Hunts vs. Heinz and Mrs. Paul's vs. Van de Kamp's. This has only gotten worse with recent advances in technology. If my cart is blocking the aisle it's probably because I'm tapping into my social network, debating the merits of Super-Soft Mega Rolls vs. Ultra-Strong Big Rolls.

But if it's a big-ticket item, forget it. I've been known to go out for phở and return an hour later with a new car. (The zoning for ethnic restaurants and auto dealerships seems to be remarkably similar.) I'm trying to get better about this, especially since entangling my future with someone else's.

Last weekend at the mall, I saw Apple updated the MacBook Air with faster processors. I was moistening the Apple Store glass like Ralphie Parker coveting a Red Rider BB gun. Just one Amex swipe away from walking out with a new Mac under my arm, I decided to hold off. What stopped me? I thought about what JB would say when he got home from his trip.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not hen-pecked. Well, not much. I have every right to buy a computer with my own funds if I so choose. But JB is very... lets just say he has a pragmatic rationality about such things. And he gets a corporate discount at the Apple Store. Where I wouldn't mind forgoing the discount in exchange for immediate gratification, doing so would certainly cause JB to call my fiscal sanity into question. I wasn't afraid of his reaction to my unilateral purchase, I was afraid of his reaction to my not saving $72 by waiting a few days. And despite my overwhelming want, I knew he'd be right.

He comes by it honestly. Growing up under modest circumstances, he was forced at an early age to be the man of the house and help support his mother and sisters. Where my parents did a pretty good job of shielding me from any awareness of our family's lower middle class tax bracket, JB spent his tweens burdened with the responsibilty of ensuring the utilities weren't cut off. That experience instilled a consumer sensibility that makes me thank God I never pursued a career in retail.

Does the new comforter not hold up to sharp cat claws? Take it back. Does the new vacuum suck disappointingly when the inside inexplicably fills with dirt? Return it. Did these new, formerly white undershirts betray the quality of their craftsmanship by wantonly absorbing dye from those red undershorts? Not a problem, he saved the receipt. I usually try to find something else to do during these errands. And our dining excursions will have to be the subject of a future post.

My recent exercise in impulse control demonstrates I've finally learned to appreciate this quality in JB. Especially after seeing his sister in action. Once when picking us up from the airport she was horrified to discover her GPS decadently shunted us onto a tollway. As she blocked the booth for several minutes trying to make the toll collector to understand why she shouldn't have to pay the dollar, I sank into the back seat and thanked my lucky stars.



  1. I get a high from Amazon shopping!!! There is not a weekday that goes by where the UPS guy does not drop off a package. I get strangly excited to open something that I don't remember ordering! Hubby bitches and moans about all the crap I buy - but but I need everything I order!!!

  2. Don't get me started on Best Foods verses Hellmann's