Of all the columns I’ve written for this website, the one on the art of doing nothing has drawn the most responses. Also interesting is that since then, that subject has been mentioned in at least three national publications.
Indeed, the May issue of Town & Country, the magazine written for and read by many of our nation’s wealthy and socially prominent, devoted two pages to the subject.
The irony lies in the reality that as we are either being urged or forced to cram yet more into the eternally rigid 24-hour day, we feel increasingly inclined to give more of it the reject slip. Reacting in that fashion certainly won’t cause the end of the world, but it could create a new one for you.
Surely you’ve noticed that in recent years designers have given cars a downright mean look — headlights made into sinister looking slits, grills with teeth ready to bite, then devour you. Logic instantly tells you what it should have told the designers. Not only are most car fronts ugly, you have to wonder if they contribute to meaner and more aggressive behavior. We feel more threatened than we already are.
As a society, we desperately need just the opposite — cars that look nice, say “hello” to other drivers, and promote the good rather than angry and mean. For an excellent example, look up the wonderfully plain but elegant and sophisticated front end of a 1951 Kaiser car or a 1957 Chevrolet car. After the passing of a lifetime, they still have what it takes.
For utter nonsense brought about by trial lawyers who advertise on TV and en masse corporate lawyers with sharp teeth, you need not look farther than the labels on merchandise, especially anything mechanical or electrical.
In a sales rack was a folding two-step foot stool. To use it, all you do is unfold it until it clicks. To fold it flat again, push a button and push the two halves of the stool together. You wouldn’t think instructions were needed for such a simple product. Surprise!
Not simply a sheet or pamphlet, the instructions were presented in a five by seven-inch booklet with sixteen pages in English and seventeen pages in Spanish. Nor did it stop there. Glued to each of the stool’s four legs were four different ten-inch vinyl strips each with a different safety or how-to message. It was so over the top that no one would even bother to read any of it.
The manufacturer wanted to make sure all bases were covered if sued by a person who either didn’t know how to use a step stool or thought that figuring out how to successfully sue manufacturers was a good way to make a living.
Sadly, we all know how such gross overkill works out. Those who do need to read it, won’t. Those who don’t, won’t either. If either sues, they’ll likely win anyway.
Sure, much if not most logic is of the simple slap on the table variety, but some gets complicated, even to the point of being contradictory. For example, logic says to buy under the banner of economy. That can be the end of it, but many times that’s just the beginning.
Warren Buffet, one of the most prominent investors in the world, is famous for having said: “Price is what you pay, value is what you get.” To which can be added this old saying: “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” That sets up a collision course between situation A in which you look for the lowest price, and situation B in which you look for quality.
You’re familiar with situation A because that’s the natural thing to do. Also, maybe the value is high enough to justify the savings. Situation B, however, gets more complicated. Here are two examples, both vital to your health and safety, where you might want to pay the most you can for the item.
The first is tires. At today’s highway speeds, to ride and depend on anything less than the best is definitely not a good idea, as in one blowout and you’ve had it. That means how much you pay for tires isn’t an issue. Buy the best for which, and this is no surprise, you’ll pay the most. There’s plenty of information out there to help you find what’s considered the best.
The second is vitamins. For supplementing your diet, the on the street rule of thumb says you should buy the best. To provide you with the best, however, manufacturers must go through the costly process of getting quality ingredients and converting them into pills and powders. Need help in relating that reality to prices? Go to a dedicated food supplement store, and talk with the most knowledgeable person behind the counter.
To repeat: There is no such thing as a free lunch.