Friday, April 29, 2005

Philosophizing about Shopping

Philosophizing about Shopping

With the coming Monday being a public holiday, there's a long weekend ahead. I'll need to plan it carefully so that it is not wasted. I've already crossed off a lot items on my long list of errands but it is a list that continues to grow all the time. It's also the end of the month again. Time to start paying those dreaded bills...

I'll probably fork out some time to do some much needed spring cleaning too. I've already taken care of all my old books and papers; now I have to start tackling my old clothes. At least 50% of my wardrobe needs to be discarded. Which also reminds me that I have to spend some time shopping for some new office clothes. I've been working from home for more than a year now, so understandably, this part of my wardrobe needs some serious replenishing.

To me, shopping for clothes is one the dullest activities in the world. (Could be because I have very dull tastes when it comes to fashion). But I am often amazed at the kind of patience that women possess when it comes to this particular "chore". They could spend hours browsing and queueing up outside the fitting room to try out various different pieces, but end up buying nothing.

I'm not sure about other men, I try to be quick when it comes to deciding what to buy. Browse, choose and pay. Of course, that doesn't mean that one doesn't choose wisely. I simply put on my consultant thinking cap whenever I shop: Assess, Analyze and Execute. You deal with one phase completely within the given time-frame and move on to the next one. Don't dilly-dally.

To find the best bargain in town, one often has to spend a lot of time browsing and comparing prices from many different shops. I do that too sometimes but I try to "timebox" the process because after a certain point, the time and energy you have to spend hunting for the best bargain does not justify the savings anymore. These intangible costs need to be quantified and taken into consideration too. I consider time a very expensive commodity simply because it is not a replenishable resource. Money-- at least I'd like to believe--can be potentially infinite.

Shopping can be a very time-consuming affair. Even if you have all the money to buy all the shoes that you desire in the world, you won't have time to wear them all. I used to buy a lot of electronic gadgets--PDAs, computer accessories, cameras etc--when I was in Singapore. Then I realized how tedious it was having to go through the same ridiculous cycle over and over again: figuring out how to use them, fiddling with their parts and accessories, not to mention having to find space to store and manage all the messy pieces of cables and chargers. I'm through with buying gadgets now.

I'm sure many of us will take the opportunity to do some window-shopping over the weekend. Inevitably you'll end up buying something, and most likely it's going to be something that you don't really need. There's nothing wrong with that. If the experience of shopping itself gives you pleasure, then by all means. Like what gamblers like to say, you are just paying for the pleasure of the experience itself--no different from paying to enjoy a good meal or to watch a movie.

So let's not waste time philosophizing about things too much. Just relax and indulge in whatever activity that brings you "pleasure" over the weekend. Happy shopping!

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