Friday, October 28, 2011

Assumptions

We all make them. We think we know something, or know something about someone and yet, do we really know?

For example, in a conversation with a friend, I mentioned how much I enjoyed listening to Afropop Worldwide on Public Radio. My friend was astonished. "You like that?" she asked. "I would never have thought it. That has changed my perception of you entirely." In a good way, she added quickly.

Afropop Worldwide traces the origins and impact of African music and plays some of the most intriguing and interesting music I have ever heard. I enjoy the African rhythms and chants too and Ladysmith Black Mombasa is one of my favorites. I suppose that to my black friend who knows my passionate interest in old-time and Appalachian music and ballads, the news that I enjoyed other music was not expected. In fact, I like many other kinds of music, everything from blues to opera and classical to some country and rock. Jazz is on the bottom of my list, but I can still enjoy it at times.

Another assumption was voiced by my friend Janet recently. She follows my eBay sales and was appalled at the cost of shipping. "Why, they could go to the store and buy the item for less than they're paying you for shipping and the cost of the thing they're buying!"

She's right, in a way. For some items, a buyer could get it at the store for the same price or less. But consider this: to buy the item at an antique store or flea market, the buyer would have to get dressed to go out, drive at least 10 minutes and probably a lot longer to get to the store, possibly pay to park, risk a fender bender or parking lot dings to their vehicle, spend time browsing on the chance that they will find what they want, spend time in line paying for the item, then drive back home again. The least amount of time it could take is 30 minutes and I know from experience that going to a store, especially one that invites browsing, will always take longer than 10 minutes! You also have to lug your purchases to the car.

On the other hand, to go online from home, on lunch break at work, or while sipping coffee in a coffee shop requires no special effort or travel. At home, buyers can wear their PJs (well some go to the store that way too these days!) and do their shopping while on the phone, doing the laundry, checking email, writing their blog or whatever. It's easy to multi-task and shop at the same time.

To go to the store, assuming it's 10 miles, will cost $5.20 at the current federal mileage rate, for gas, wear and tear on the vehicle, etc. There is sales tax to be paid too, in many states. So if your item is $15.00, then add $.90 in West Virginia for sales tax. Then add in what you consider your time to be worth. If the trip took an hour, at the current minimum wage rate, your time was worth $7.25. So going to the store has cost $13.45. Compare that to the shipping you will pay for that item. Shipping, of course, varies by distance and weight of the item, but a recent $15.00 purchase by a lady in Missouri cost her $8.14 in shipping.Had she driven to the mall to buy her item, my bet is she would have paid at least $23.00 for it and had the cost of gas and sales tax added to that price, plus possible parking fees. And the investment of her time, which for many of us is a primary consideration.

So the assumption that shipping is expensive is right--and wrong. I am a believer in online shopping. We have our coffee delivered monthly, I buy office supplies and books and many other things online. I love the convenience and the fact that I can find things online that are not available within 50 miles of my home. Often I get free shipping but even if I don't the cost of shipping is usually less than the cost of traveling to the store to buy the item. Travel these days is expensive too, and I think that's something we can all agree on!

I know I have assumed things to be true about people that turn out to be completely false. I remember once thinking a lady was a very unfriendly person because she was brusque to me the first time I spoke with her. We attended classes together and I got to know her better and found that what I took for brusqueness was really nothing more than the fact that she was distracted by something else. She since became a close friend and the last word I would use to describe her is brusque.

This morning I was up in arms because my new internet installer had apparently done something to my computer. Nothing worked properly; the printer had disappeared (well, not actually, it was right her beside me but my computer didn't seem to know that!), programs would not open, the internet was messed up...so I called tech support. I'm sure those people hate me by now. After much rumination, one helpless tech and a second really nice one, we did what I should have done in the first place: reboot the computer. Duh. Problems all vanished. And here I was blaming the installer!

I guess we all have these "duh" moments. Some days they come thick on the heels of each other. Sometimes it's good to stop and think about what we think we know, and be ready to be proven wrong. I don't mind being wrong, but isn't it nice when our correct assumptions outweigh our errors?

5 comments:

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Nothin like a bit of Afro-pop to cheer up a grey day, cousin. My only blind spot musically is Andrew Lloyd Webber; how come he's a millionaire? And shopping online? I'm with you on that one too.

A Vintage Green said...

Reboot is always a good first fix, and I sometimes forget that too.
Very good points on online shopping.
- Joy

Country Whispers said...

It's too easy to assume, especially when you are mad but I always try to remind myself that things may not appear as the seem and there are always two ways (or more) to do something or two ways of thinking.
I do agree- and not agree on the shopping. The shipping prices are outrageous now a days but it's also worth it for the things that you REALLY want or can't find locally.

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

Yes, shopping online saves on gas, vehicle maintenance, time, labor, and other costs. I shop online quite a bit. I liked your break-down of costs due to running errands or shopping around with a vehicle. Also, I have "duh" moments especially with my computer. It has made me slow down and think out the situation before I start ranting about how my computer is on the fritz. I usually always work it out eventually. Thanks for the good post -- barbara

Nance said...

Sue, I had to laugh when I read this. I just instantly boil when I have to get in the car and drive on over to "my" US Cellular store to make a change on the cell phone account. 1st, I think I should be able to take care of all my cell phone business ON THE CELL PHONE. wrong. ASSUMPTION! I have to drive across town and go into the store. with photo ID, social security number and my cell phone. I told US Cellular once that I had bought a $75,000 house and had my tubes tied, without so much security and hassle. they didn't care . . .

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