August 5, 2010
Don't you hate spending time and money on stuff that's no fun?
Still feeling vacation glow, but major appliances are screwing with the mood. This first week back we laid out more $$$ than I like to think about for…
A) Heating/AC guys to fix the blower unit up in the attic, leaking serious water. Good thing Minerva saw it seeping through our bedroom ceiling before the ceiling soaked through and collapsed, which the head guy said happened at another house he just came from.
B) Factory authorized appliance repairman to fix leak from water line into back of our built-in refrigerator. Much more water than the A) leak but less heinous consequences because it seeped down and puddled on the basement floor.
The repairs cost about what we paid for a week’s use of a dreamy vacation house in France (sounds snootzy but actually cheaper than the Jersey Shore). But then, last thing before he walked out of the kitchen, the appliance man imparted wisdom worth at least as much as what I paid him. Should I live by what the guy told me, thousands of our dollars won’t get spent.
The verbatim: “Buy the cheapest thing you can find, and in the long run you’ll be better off.”
Very surprising, when you think about it, from a person affiliated with a company that pushes its own high-end appliances. He happened to be speaking about washing machines, one of which I have to buy because ours shows symptoms that another appliance fixer once told me I should treat as fatal.
Yes, we’re about to take another major-appliance-related hit, making three in only a couple weeks.
But the appliance guy just made it easier.
More of his words: “Come on, what does a washing machine do? It washes! You don’t want anything complicated…”
He's right. I don’t. Except I, like everybody else in the Unsuburb, and all of over-thinker upper-middle aspirational America, am a sucker for complicated, for techy, highly accessorized, high-status – and pricy – versions of products that do simple things. In so many areas, we try to be smart about dumb stuff and overpay for things that aren't worth it.
Like, the other day at Home Depot, I passed this swoopy-looking washer that had every conceivable buy-up feature including one I never saw before – steam. No idea why steam is good, but I said to myself, “Cool.”
I wanted the thing, only not enough to pay well into the four figures. Still want it, actually, unless I find out about something better than steam.
But I’m going to listen to the man.
Keep it simple. Buy cheap.
It is, by the way, the home part of at-home daddying – home upkeep, maintenance, management – that I sometimes can’t stand.
Pops of love-struck teenagers will relate. A daughter works “dear little daddy” so he’ll let her marry a guy she’s crazy for. She gets cute, begs, threatens to throw herself in river, howls how it hurts. But very, very beautifully, no?