Thursday, July 21, 2011

People Are Jerks recently priced iPads at $69.

It's not the bargain you think.  In fact, from where I sit it's still about $68 more than I'm willing to spend on an iPad.  In my world a notepad is more my speed, and I'm not old enough for full-blown curmudgeon status yet.

Of course the $69 price was a glitch, a typo.  Somebody messed up somewhere, leaving off about $674 worth of price.  Being up front with what they were doing, Sears sent messages to all the purchasers that there had been an error, their order was cancelled, and their accounts had been credited back the purchase price.  No harm, no foul.

Or was there harm?  At least one shopper insists that she ought to get the product at the price specified.  Balderdash, says I.  In a free economy, I'm not required to sell you anything and you're not required to buy.  Any judge would take one look at the circumstances, chalk it up to human error in spite of the computerized nature of the glitch (the price only came up on, not in stores) and say the whole incident is over and why are we still talking about it?

Because some people are jerks.  I don't say I think it's $68 too much because that's all I want to spend, I say that because that's how little I want it.  If it's worth having, it's worth paying for.  If it's worth paying for, it's worth paying everyone involved in the design, engineering, production and shipping of the device.  All those people thought the thing was worth making.  If you want it, pay what it's worth.  If you don't want to pay that much, then you don't really want it.  You want to steal it, to somehow put one over on "the system," to become the alpha shopper who gets more than anyone else.  That's "Me First, Me Only, Me All the Time" thinking.  If you insist on getting it at the super-reduced-somebody-got-fired-over-this price, you lay the added burden of covering the rest of your unit's cost on other shoppers.  If that's totally okay with you, you're a sociopath.  To insist on your own wants with utter disregard for the rights, needs and wants of others is a hallmark of sociopathy.  To a psychiatrist with you, immediately.

Then there are the people who cruise along in the slow lane on the interstate, rolling along until a gap opens up in the exit lane, and they dodge in and slam brakes so they can jump to the front of the line.  It's not even my exit, and it makes me grit my teeth.  I swear, the things you see when you don't have a gun...or a ticket book.

How self-important do you have to be to completely disregard the hundred or so other drivers you just passed, waiting in the self-same line?  If you were at a convenience store and decided to cut to the front of the line, rest assured someone would encourage you to take your rightful place at the end - possibly by force.  And I wouldn't say he was entirely wrong to do it.

All of this touches on the social contract, which let me tell you is a gigantic big subject that I'm trying to boil down to less than 10,000 words.  I want to write on it and I'm sure there's something there for everyone, but when I get going I sometimes start yelling and pounding keys while glaring daggers at the Google News homepage.  So it's coming, but I don't know when.

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