I Hate Shopping

Forgive me, I'm recovering from learning today that Peter Egan is retiring from Road and Track.

What I'm about to write is Dharmic revenge for my actions as an 16-25 year old: Ten years on from that, I hate shopping for anything durable.   I don't mind shopping for food, theatre tickets, or the average temporal thrill, but when it comes to something that's going to take-up residence at my house, I'd rather not.

Basically, I separate shopping from buying.  Shopping implies going somewhere, looking at something, maybe trying it out, then walking away and thinking about it.

This has a few distasteful outcomes for me:

  • Outright obsession.  Though better since I got a handle on my brain chemistry years ago, I can still obsess about some shiny object, night and day, for a remarkable time.  Mostly these are mechanical things: Guns, cars, motorcycles.  It's a fever, in my blood, with all the positives and negatives.
  • Disappointment.  I'd been obsessing about something and then the reality of it was just disappointing.  Like, say, modern cars: Overwrought, low-revving, paragons of technology, with gun-slit windows and the character of your average.  Yes, I need 18" wheels on my Ford Fiesta (and the associated turning circle of the Bismark after the British torpedo'd its rudder, thanks!)
  • General empathy for wasting everyone's time.  Going to the store (or car dealership, or gun shop) when I've no intention of buying anything is just a monumental waste of time.  I'm not getting the salesperson any commission, I'm not going home with a shiny widget, and I burned gas and time to get there and get back.  Wasteful.
  • There's the genuine vanity of it all.   Consumerist culture surrounds you like cloying ladies of the night at the entrance of Cebuano mall--you can't escape them, so you just barge through and don't make eye contact.  Which is draining.  For big ticket items, there's the inevitable follow-up calls, which waste my time as well.
Buying something is sometimes even worse:
  • As many freshly-married Cassanovas discover, having is not the same as wanting.  Wanting to buy something, lusting after it, consuming yourself in knowledge of the thing is great.  It's a thrill.  At one time, I knew the specifications of every 35mm SLR camera for sale in america between $100 and $500.  Then I bought a Pentax PZ-1P on consignment and the chase was over.  The camera was great, but the let-down was real.
  • You have to care & feed the thing.  Lord willing, it's not alive, so you needn't *actually* spend time and money dealing with it, but when you're talking serious mechanical equipment, there's a tangible cost to your life to just keep it maintained.  Thus the old adage, "Your stuff owns you."

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