Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Kid Stuff: Upsetting the Apple Cart

(Photo courtesy of e.r.w.i.n.'s Flickr page.)

So you may recall that the Big Kid got an IOU from Santa for a new iPod, on account of how the elves couldn't find a charger for his old second-generation Shuffle (well, they found one on eBay, but for what the seller wanted for it, it wasn't much more expensive to simply start over).  Apparently, Spouse (who has the elves' power of attorney during the off-season) continued the search and located, for the price of a new Shuffle:  a slightly used, fourth-generation Shuffle, with charger; another second-gen Shuffle, with the charger that we needed for the first second-gen; and a set of earbuds.

Spouse purchased said bundle, and then promptly forgot that he made the purchase, so when he got an e-mail notification that an item had shipped from an unfamiliar seller, he promptly called me at work and began to interrogate me:  either I had ordered something (because he certainly hadn't), or we were being scammed.  Not exactly sure how sending something of value to someone when they hadn't paid for that something would be a scam . . . on the recipient.  It certainly wouldn't be a particularly lucrative one for the sender.  Reminds me of one of my favorite fake ads from Saturday Night Live, for the fictitious "First CityWide Change Bank":

A lot of people don't realize that change is a two-way street. You can come in with sixteen quarters, eight dimes, and four nickels - we can give you a five-dollar bill. Or we can give you five singles. Or two singles, eight quarters, and ten dimes. 

You'd be amazed at the variety of the options you have.  I have had people come in with wrinkled ten-dollar bills to exchange for new crisp bills to put in birthday cards. We can handle special requests like that, usually in the same day.  

All the time, our customers ask us, "How do you make money doing this?" The answer is simple: Volume.  

Anyway.  I apprised Spouse of my recent Internet purchasing activity, offered to swear out an affidavit in support of same (what's a marriage without a little sarcasm?) and (knowing Spouse, his Internet purchasing activities, and his proclivity to forget things that he purchases) suggested that we take a wait-and-see attitude until the package arrived.

Sure enough, it was the iPods for the kids.  I'll spare you the details of the Big Reveal, but here's how things played out:

PJ got to select first, and he "picked" the 2G iPod, which I figured he might, because it:  (1) was a bright cobalt blue; (2)therefore matched the earbuds (which we advised were his, since C already had some); (3) looked just like his brother's (when you are seven, having exactly what you have seen your big brother carry around transcends other, more rational considerations); and (4) was bigger than the other one.  Bigger being, OBVIOUSLY, better when you are seven.  (Again, I know enough about seven year-old boys, and this seven year-old in particular, to have a good sense that he would gravitate towards the one we wanted him to have, but just in case I was ready with backup argument 5:  being bigger, it would be harder for him to lose.  Did I mention that he's seven?)

Within two minutes, the earbuds had fallen apart.  They were off-brand and cruddy, anyway, and I have pairs to spare, so not a huge deal, but deduct the "value" (questionable as it may be) of the earbuds from the fabulous deal secured by Spouse.

Within two minutes after that, it was apparent that PJ's Shuffle wasn't charging, because - wait for it - the second-gen charger that came with the bundle was broken.  (I called this when I plugged the Shuffle into the dock and noticed that the pin was wiggly.  But, being male, none of the other members of my household would take my statement on faith.)

So, let's review:

We now own two theoretically operational second-gen Shuffles that we cannot charge because we also own two piece-of-crud docking devices.

Docking devices, as previously noted, cost as much as a new unit - hence the initial decision to buy C a newer model.

Spouse thought he was working a deal by getting C the newer model bundled with a little sumpin' sumpin' for the Little Kid.

Instead, what he have is an extremely frustrated seven year-old who now has access to TWO THEORETICALLY OPERATIONAL SECOND-GEN SHUFFLES THAT WE CANNOT CHARGE. 

Are you familiar with the myth of Tantalus?

Anyway again.  C's fourth-gen Shuffle does work.  (So, continuing with the math, you subtract the value of the busted earbuds, the value of the worthless charging dock and the value of the superfluous second old-model shuffle, and you get, for the cost of a new fourth-gen Shuffle . . . a used fourth-gen Shuffle.  Bargain, right?)

Trying to sync said operational Shuffle with my iTunes account, so as to transfer music onto it that I had previously downloaded for C, took a flippin' act of Congress, reminding me of why I hate Apple.  Ultimately, I was able to put his entire playlist on the dang thing, and I only had to repurchase three songs to do it.  (Trust me, it was cheaper than the alternative, which was to replace my computer after I threw it against a wall.)

So everyone was, sort of, happy.  Well, except for Tantalus:

What? No, that's a tantalus, too. See, it's a decanter stand, and the bottle stoppers are firmly clamped down by a locked metal bar, to prevent servants from stealing the master's liquor. The decanters themselves are clearly visible, though, so they're tantalizing - get it?

Okay, thus ends today's lesson on Victorian-era home decor.

Everyone, except for Tantalus, was happy until the next morning, when the entire family had to spend twenty minutes searching for C's seventh-grade electives preference sheet, which was due that AM, and which C swore up and down that he put in his backpack, except he totally didn't, because Mom found it squirreled away in an incredibly odd location, and there was much shouting and pondering over the rhetorical question of how someone loses a form printed on RADIOACTIVE YELLOW CARDSTOCK in a 1,200 SQUARE-FOOT APARTMENT.

And then Dad confiscated the new(ish) iPod.

And then Mom had to drive an emotionally overwrought twelve year-old, sans iPod, to school,  because it was Bring Your Mom to School Day, and Bringing Your Mom to School apparently entitled you to an extra credit grade in your homeroom, which happens, for C, to be accelerated math, so it was very important that he bring me in to Mr. H's classroom, if only for a moment, which I opined was totally stupid, because fairly sure that the entire point of Bring Your Mom to School Day was to encourage parental engagement, and Mr. H knows that I am engaged, because we are totally e-mail buddies.  But, nevertheless, I allowed myself to be dragged into Mr. H's class and displayed like a twelve-point buck ("OOH, you look JUST like your mom!").

But not before hearing eight choruses of, "BUT IT'S NOT FAIR, because Dad PROMISED me that he would never take away an electronic device unless the electronic device was the cause of the infraction.  And the fact that my electives sheet wasn't in my backpack had nothing to do with me being distracted by my iPod. [Riiiiiiiiight.]  I REALLY DID PUT THE SHEET IN MY BACKPACK, AND I HAVE NO IDEA HOW IT GOT BACK OUT."

Spouse does not remember making this PROMISE. But, then, he didn't remember that he ordered the highly economical iPod bundle, either.

C made a similar "I have no idea why the form wouldn't be in my backpack, because I definitely put it there" claim before we left the house, at which point Spouse advanced the theory that the Underpants Gnomes from South Park were, perhaps, the culprits behind this senseless act of terrorism.

This did not sit well with the hormonal almost-teenager. "DAD, YOU'RE MOCKING ME!"  But I think the theory has legs.  And, perhaps the silver lining in all of this drama is that we can fill, once and for all, the hole in the Gnomes' business plan:

The answer is simple.  Volume.

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