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.

My Minimalism Flubs

flameI originally called this post My Minimalism Fails but after I finished writing it I decided my fails were more flubs than fails. Either way, none of my minimalism faux pas (I really have no idea what to call them, fails, flubs, faux pas) were harmful but mostly just stupid. And with that, stupid leads to learnin‘.

I still think I have too much stuff but compared to other Gen Xers, I have nothing so I need to stop beating myself up over it. It’s not a friggin’ contest. I think when a lot of people try any lifestyle change, they think/focus too much on perfection rather than the end result of the enviable bumpy road of the project.

These flubs are in no particular order, each flub pretty much have an equal level of not thinking this through.

Okay, if you are keeping track of the wording:

fails
flubs
faux pas
bumpy road
not thinking this through

I had a bike trailer to haul groceries and at my old apartment it worked. I had a bigger, more accessible balcony and lived much closer to multiple grocery stores. At my new place, it was not working. My balcony was the only place to put the trailer and the balcony is long and narrow and has a narrow doorway and an 18 inch metal lip (for the sliding patio door) and lifting the trailer on and off the balcony was hard. I mashed fingers, bashed elbows and bruised and cut my shins so many times.  It was just too fucking hard to get it in and out of the building without drawing blood so I began to dread using it. It was also starting to wear out (I bought it used) so I donated it back to the bicycle charity I bought it at and let them deal with the repairs. I think I got my money’s worth out of it and someone else will appreciate it. I decided to use the car share more often because the extra cost is worth the lack of bleeding.
Lesson Learned: Sometimes you have to spend to be simple.

Why the hell did I wait almost two years to buy a damn hammer drill? The walls in my apartment are concrete and getting anything into them is Very Difficult. I did research how to affix stuff to the walls and I got a lot of conflicting advice from The Google Machine and I thought the drill would be super expensive and might not work and I fell into a giant vat of indecision and sort of hacked getting shit to stay on the walls. Finally I drill bit the bullet and bought an inexpensive hammer drill and now everything is properly secured.
Lesson learned: In hindsight, I would have saved so much time and aggravation if I’d just gone to the damn hardware store and talked to an expert.

I fell into the trap of keeping furniture that didn’t quite fit in my microscopic apartment. I kept it for sentimental reasons and finally after more bashed shins, I had to admit defeat. I found a free stuff page on Facebook specifically for my neighbourhood and gave it away. I met some cool neighbours and was able to give stuff to people who would really appreciate the items. I am not really set up for selling stuff online. I don’t have data or text plan and cell reception at work is sketchy at best so the back and forth communications of online selling is Way Too Complicated. Especially for something that might net $20.

I had a bookcase that was falling apart but was made of really nice hardwood so I salvaged the wood that was not damaged and chopped it up and turned it into, of course, shelves which I attached to the wall with relative ease with my hammer drill.
Lesson learned: Don’t fixate on the financial mistake of doing something or not doing something. In the course of one’s life you are gonna pay the stupid tax no matter how hard you try. The best you can do is to try limit the number of times you pay the stupid tax. I sort of equate the stupid tax with eating bugs. Sometimes you accidentally eat a bug and it sucks, but it’s gonna happen unless you never go outside and it’s kind of gross and annoying but a week later you won’t be dead from stupid tax/bug eating and probably will forget all about it.

The thing I take away from my fail/flub/faux pas/bumpy road/not thinking this through is that it’s no big deal because nobody really notices. The world is a busy place, full of distractions and people are just trying to do their own thing and not lose their minds and eat bugs and they probably won’t notice that you aren’t a master at something you enjoy doing.

The thing that made all the shin banging worthwhile is the calm that I feel when I get home and I am not swallowed by stuff and the energy sucking force that a cluttered and disorganized space does to your soul. That’s why minimalism is so important to me.