When there is always something in the house in need of repair or replacement, you begin to doubt the permanence of things.
“This stereo won’t even turn on half the time! We’ll have to replace it soon, “ Mr. Banks complained one evening.
“Or get it fixed?” I volunteered.
“No, we don’t invest in nondurable goods, “ he answered.
“I was just trying to be green and spare a landfill. Remind me again, because I try to forget as much economics as possible, what a nondurable good is?”
“A nondurable good can be called a soft good, “ he began. “A replaceable, consumable product.”
As Mr. Banks continued, I thought about how “consumed” and “soft” my body felt. I spend most of my time caring for and driving our children, not toning at a gym. I looked down at the Explanation of Benefits I was reading, for my recent sinus surgery. “Before insurance balance: $20,000, “ it read. Then I tallied all the other things that had started to decline in me, since motherhood. Plantar fasciitis, gnarled bunions, wrinkles, alien blemishes, wiry silver hair tinsel, extra pounds, worsened eyesight, creaky knees, heightened allergies. I’m a liability, I panicked silently.
He peered over an issue of Esquire featuring Scarlett Johansson on the cover, while offering examples of other “soft” goods: “…food, alcohol, books, clothing…”
“But all those things are wonderful and add value to my life!” I defended.
“Yes, but that’s not what we’re talking about. You wouldn’t invest a lot of time and money in fixing clothing or a book…”
“Absolutely I would!” I became passionate. “I love my old books and have gladly glued lost pages back in place! I sew buttons back on things all the time!”
He looked confused and frightened by me. He knew he was lost, treading cautiously in a jungle of female emotions.
I sighed. “Okay then. Tell me what’s so special about durable goods. Do you ‘invest’ in them?”
“Yes, also called hard goods…”
I mumbled, “Of course they are.”
“…They wear out less easily. They provide use for a longer time. Things like furniture, tools, larger home appliances…”
“Those things wear out too, you know, “ I said.
I got a blank confused stare.
“Am I a durable good or nondurable good?” I finally asked. “And if I’m durable, have you calculated your Return on Investment?!”
“What?! Anyway, the stereo is fine for now. It doesn’t need to be replaced immediately. When it dies, we’ll figure it out then.”
“Yes, I feel it still has much to offer. Let’s take it one day at a time.”
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