Gadgets Make You Mean

Did you hear the one about the minimalist and the gadget company?

sad-robot2I’ve been a minimalist for a long time. The main reason is that I earn a low income and there is little room in my budget for wants. Everything I buy is a need. Silly things like rent, food and a bus pass pretty much eat up 68% of my income. I put 10-20% in the bank and live very simply. Since I can’t afford to buy anything extra, my living space is compact and super efficient. This really helps me keep my sanity. I don’t have to keep track of things or maintain things or worry about the things breaking. You do not have to worry about breaking/repairing/replacing something you do not own.

So why do you work at a gadget company? Jobs, even shitty ones, are hard to come by and I need a job. I also thought that the gadget company would possibly go public and my financial situation would improve enough that I could increase my savings. No crazy ideas of owning fast car (or just owning a car) or a fancy house but some money in a retirement fund. Now that I think about it, even my idea of a windfall is pretty minimalist.

Before I talk about what it’s like for a minimalist to work at a gadget company, I want to explain a few things about the Gadget. I don’t want to get fired/sued so I will be vague about the gadget. I’ll just call it Chipmunk.

In defense of Chipmunk, it’s a pretty handy gadget, that’s well made, and it helps people save time and be more organized. You can totally survive in our modern society without a Chipmunk.

In no way does the Chipmunk save a life. So, if your Chipmunk dies, you will not die. It’s not an insulin pump, or a pacemaker or a wildly expensive life saving cancer drug. It’s basically a useful toy.

I work in technical support at Chipmunk Inc and this is what I have discovered about gadgets. It’s not a pretty picture I paint, and I am sure many would disagree. But there is something about a dependence on a gadget that brings out the worst in people.

Gadgets Can Make You Stupid

At Chipmunk Inc, we try to work with you when you do stupid stuff. Minor stupid stuff like when you throw away the receipt for an item with a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty, or you call us on speaker phone (you sound like Donald Duck to us). You call us from your car without your Chipmunk and get mad when we tell you that you need to be in front of the Chipmunk to troubleshoot it.

If I have to tell you why it’s not a good idea to call tech support when driving, well you just proved that gadgets can make you stupid.

We try to be fair when you break, drop, dunk in water, run over with your car (the list of Chipmunk abuse is endless) to get you a new Chipmunk.

And then you lie about how your Chipmunk mysteriously broke.

We can see the tire treads. We can see that you left it on top of the radiator and melted it. We know it didn’t get wet in a light rain shower, but you dropped it in the toilet. We can tell when you are trying to submit doctored documents to get a free Chipmunk under warranty. You are not fooling anyone. Frankly it’s pretty dumb to spend hours and hours trying to stonewall us or manipulate us to get a free gadget that costs less than $200. C’mon, go big. If you are going to invest so much time and effort into deceit and fraud, go scam someone else for a couple of thousands of dollars. Aren’t you worth more than $5/hr with your scamming? Have some dignity.

Gadgets Can Make You Entitled

Sometimes the Chipmunk breaks. It’s made in China by people who just don’t give a poop. Frankly I’m surprised it doesn’t break more. That’s the world we live in. If you haven’t destroyed it by being stupid and lying about it, we will give you a free one if it falls under the warranty period.

The Chipmunk has three main parts, A, B and C. If part A breaks, we give you a new part A. It’s all modular so there is nothing to unscrew or install because frankly you are too stupid to not screw this up and then sue us for a billion dollars (tip – we don’t have a billion dollars). If we cannot get you to not use your Chipmunk as a door stop, then we aren’t going to ask you to do any soldering. That being said, if Part A breaks, and Parts B and C work fine, we are going to give you a new part A. Not a Part B and a Part C because you are angry or sad that part A broke. No. There is nothing wrong with parts B and C. Please go be entitled to some other company, I am busy.

Quite often people think that because they own the most expensive Chipmunk, they should get special treatment and get their gadget replaced first and screw the other people with their inferior Chipmunks. Don’t you know who I am? Nope. All Chipmunk customers are equal no matter their income.

If you Chipmunk does not fall under a warranty claim because you killed it, or it just wore out we will help you get a replacement, but you can’t expect us to give you a free one. The same way Toyota does not give people new tires for their cars if the tires wear out after ten years. We are a business not a charity.

Gadgets Make You Mean

This is an ugly truth.

I consider myself an expert because I’ve been screamed at and cursed out by tens of thousands of people when their gadget breaks. I’m told I should expect this in my job, but in all honesty, it’s disgraceful when an adult has a complete and utter temper tantrum because their toy broke. This is the mark that the gadget has made you lose sight of not just decency and but reality.

When you call someone incompetent or a loser or threatens to have them fired or burn down their office, you have crossed the line from upset to down right mean, possibly unstable. And yes, this happens a lot.

I get it, you love your Chipmunk and you worked hard for your Chipmunk. It comes down to the idea that if you can no longer function as a rational person and are so stressed and anxious because you are constantly worried about your Chipmunk breaking or being stolen or losing it, then that’s a sign that an item in your life is no longer bringing value or joy but worry and stress.

It’s time to set the Chipmunk free.

The Story of a Couch

buying-a-housej2This is the story about the minimalist (that’s me) who needed wanted a couch.

I suck at shopping. Really, really, really suck at shopping. Most of the time the decision is made for me when it comes to rampant consumerism. I just don’t have room for anything. With only about 200 square feet of living space, one must conserve. No, the answer is not more living space. The answer is to live comfortably, but efficiently. A tricky balance for sure!

Buying stuff is remarkably easy now thanks to the inter-web but also incredibly difficult if you are prone to decision paralysis which I am a fully fledged sufferer.

Pretty much any item over $50 sends me into a panic. It’s not an affordability thing as I recently calculated all the credit I have; a ridiculous amount of over $80,000 Canadian dollars. Even if I bought the need/want couch with my line of credit, the cost would be like $3 a month in interest charges until I paid it off.

It’s an over thinking thing. This is how the overthinking part comes into play. While researching, I check out the reviews in an attempt to be a thoughtful consumer which you would think would help but this makes things worse! Six reviews for the same item naturally will have three reviews saying this is the greatest product ever invented and you are a fool for not buying a hundred of them!

Yet the other three reviews proclaim that this item is the most ill thought, poorly manufactured, over priced piece of merde since that episode of The Simpsons when homer3Homer was given carte blanche to design a car.

So this brings me to the couch. I had an old couch, but it was old and the city is no place for a couch, so it went to a special farm in the country to run and play with other couches and the occasional ottoman.

In theory I don’t need a couch, I have a bed and pillows so that should suffice but deep down my the many levels of craziness, I want a couch. Couches, primarily new couches, are a true sign of adultness. Not investments, not a home, a car, a spouse/children, but a couch.

So this really isn’t about minimalism or couches or even Homer Simpson, but our own lunacy about our lives. When it comes to stuff we are all a little nuts. It’s not the decision paralysis that is making me crazy, it’s the worry about making the wrong decisions that is making me crazy. It’s perfectly normal, some might say sane, to be concerned about making the correct decision when it comes to a big purchase, but we can’t always get it right. We just have to be mindful. So my absolute lunacy about buying a couch is not actually insanity, but me being mindful of what I want to add to my life.

Oh boy, I just realized, I Am An Adult!