10.12.2009

Engineering a shopping excursion

"To define it rudely but not ineptly, engineering is the art of doing that well with one dollar, which any bungler can do with two after a fashion."--- Arthur Wellesley

Such is the philosophy of most engineers, I have encountered. Engineers are an entire species unto themselves. They seem to know only black or white, gray simply is not. As a result they are an extremely unemotional group, dealing only with facts and logic. When they are placed into a situation where there are unknowns, they strive to find out all of the answers. Once and only once the answers are clear can they proceed. Therefore, it can be excruciatingly painful to those of us who don't operate on such a system. I have dealt with this persona for a long time. I have a husband and an astounding number of friends who are either engineers or are married to them. Normally, I am prepared for on-slot of data and questions. This weekend was not one of my best.

Our goal was simple, or so I thought. Buy appliances for our new house, namely refrigerator, washer, and dryer. Appliances are to me, functional. They are not fun or exciting by any means. I need something to do a job, I want it to look nice and not cost an extreme amount of money. I want it to work reliably when I need it to. Given this set of criteria I set out to look for our appliances. John however had his own approach. Setting out at noon on Saturday we traveled in and out of no less than 7 stores, talked to numerous employees and wrote down several hundred model numbers. We pre-measured the new house. We measured the appliances. We re-measured the new house. We placed obstacles around the appliances in the store to act as counters, doors and even used our children to see who could reach the highest shelf. We stopped looking at 10 pm only because, nothing remained open. Oh, did I forget to mention we had 3 kids with us? Once home, both computers searched online for reviews, repair records, cost of operating, comparison shopping between online stores, and numerous other facts that I know nothing about (I believe their was some question regarding quality of sound deadening material? I was tired OK?). Every time he seemed to have come to a conclusion another result would disappoint him and we would be off on another path. After printouts, graphs, and schematics were written up, plotted and analyzed, we continued. Sunday armed with extensive knowledge, a large cup of coffee and 4 Motrin we set out again. Our choices were clearly laid out and we poised to put competitor against competitor to get the best price.

The kids clearly exhausted and BORED OUT OF THEIR MINDS. Were however, quite ingenious in their own right, creating numerous games to occupy themselves. Jack and Emma kept busy playing a game of restaurant at one of the kitchen displays. Mark and Jack had a wild west rubber band shootout, holding Emma as captive. They did not try to shove one another into any appliance and only played switch the sale signs once. The finagled many free objects out of several sales people and one very nice Time Warner representative.

To be fair, we did get great deals, not that their was ever any doubt. I do have new appliances coming on Tuesday. One's I am fairly certain John knows how to assemble and operate. I am thankful now that it is over and I will indeed have new operating machinery. I can't wait to see what we got!

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