kitchen table math, the sequel: two-pack

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


 Ralph Gardner on shopping for Irene:
[M]y wife sent me out to provision Friday morning. I stocked up on all the staples—beer, vodka, milk (which will surely spoil if we lose power for days, as some predict) ice cream (ditto), a bushel of tomatoes (I may do some canning if I get bored bailing out the basement) and, most importantly, batteries. We checked our supplies and even though we're well stocked in the C, AA and AAA varieties, we appeared to be all out of the D size, the workhorse behind many flashlights.

I returned home triumphant, every item on the shopping list my spouse had assembled bought and ready to rally for our survival. All except the batteries. It wasn't as if they didn't have any D batteries at our local hardware store. It was just that they only came in the pricey two pack. I'd had my heart set on the Armageddon size—the kind you find at Lowe's or Home Depot and come eight, 16, 32, even 64 to a box.

I wanted enough batteries to see us through anything nature threw at us; I wanted the confidence of knowing we had light through the 2012 elections if need be; I wanted enough candle power to throw a party. And at a couple of bucks a pop, I didn't see any way that was going to happen, at least not without bankrupting us.

Needless to say, Debbie was not happy when I got home. She had her hands full trying to book our daughters on one of the last trains out of the city even as Amtrak was canceling them faster than one could hit the refresh button. The last thing she needed was to worry that we'd be roaming around in the dark (the local news warning about the danger of candles, which I was looking forward to lighting all over the house in homage to the 19th century).

She accused me of being cheap on a vast and unprecedented scale. Indeed, she insinuated that I was perfectly willing to squander the safety of our family just because I couldn't get a deal on batteries, wondering whether I'd ever heard the expression "opportunity cost."
The whole thing is hilarious.

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