Virtual shopping has limits

The electronic thermostat in the family room needs to be replaced. My first impulse was to buy locally, but we had a coupon for $25 off a seven-day, programmable thermostat from Home Depot, and we assumed that they would have a bigger selection than our local hardware store, so off we went. The selection probably was bigger, but it was all from one manufacturer. We could get a Honeywell 1 week programmable unit, a 5-1-1 unit, a 5-2 unit, a 7-day unit, a wireless 7-day unit, a flush mount unit, an old-school, round, non-programmable thermostat, and all kinds of additional models that were variations of the above.

We narrowed it down to one choice and a quick check of Amazon via Andrew’s iPhone showed us that we could get it online for considerably less money, even with the coupon. In theory, I disapprove of people who go to a store to scope out an item and then buy it for less on Amazon, but sometimes the price difference can be compelling. The moral high ground can be slippery.

We also did not buy a ceiling fan/light/heater for our bathroom. Our current fan makes a god-awful sound, one that clearly indicates that something is wrong. Maybe all that’s wrong is that it is so damn loud, but we both remember quieter days and we’d like them back. The store only had a couple of choices and the list of features was short; noise factor and heat wattage. As a marketing professional, I was surprised to note that one model was touted as noisy. Was that a selling point? Did anyone come in looking for the noisy model? The other was ultra-silent. I thought silence was binary; it was, or it wasn’t. But the real sticking point for us was that while the noisy one would fit in the existing hole in the ceiling, we would need to enlarge it for the ultra-silent one. And by “we” I mean someone else. Clearly this was a problem best dealt with at a later date, so we wandered over to the Garden Center where Andrew can always find something to buy.

While he shopped, I read my Kindle. He was doing a final check of the gardening supplies in the cart when a little girl approached us, she was probably around ten, and said, “May I borrow your cell phone? I can’t find my father.” For some reason she directed her question to Andrew. Maybe she intuited that he had the cooler iPhone and that I was still using a Nokia flip phone with the Cingular logo on it.

He called up the phone screen and handed it to the girl. I asked, “Do you have your dad’s number memorized?” She said yes and proceeded to demonstrate.

Then she said into the phone, “I can’t find Dad.” I envisioned her talking to her mother in some other state and briefly wondered how she was going to get along with my own daughter when I ended up bringing her home. Luckily, her mom walked around the corner and they saw each other. The girl took a step away and then remembered she was holding the phone and came back. Then a quick “thank you” and she ran off to her mom.

That interaction made all the time spent not buying things worthwhile. If we had gone straight to Amazon, without the detour to Home Depot, we wouldn’t have been able to help reunite a little girl with her family. Unless that happens in an Amazon department I haven’t discovered yet.


2 responses to “Virtual shopping has limits

  1. Noisy fan? That’s for people who don’t want others to hear their other, umm…noises…in the bathroom! I wish we’d had one in our old house in Newton where the bathroom was conveniently located by the front door and between the living room and dining room. The Japanese have turned this into an art form, with toilets that make artificial flushing sounds. It saves water because otherwise many Japanese women flush while, errr…making noises…so that no one will suspect what is going in there.

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