Ah, home again, home again, fiddle-dee-dee. Don’t get me wrong, it was a wonderful trip. I got to attend a Ceramics convention, something I would never have guessed I’d do when I graduated with a Biochemistry degree. We spent all of Thursday in museums, always a fun activity. (Amazingly, in spite of being an artist, Sondra had never been in a museum before, so I had to rectify that situation as soon as humanly possible.) The only bad part of the trip (besides the traffic, which we shall not speak of again) was that we didn’t get the cheese steaks that Sondra had her heart set on. (She was planning to do a test taste between Geno’s and Pat’s, which could have been fun; perhaps next time.)
After our jaunt through Philly, we got to the real fun of the trip: meeting my (extended) family. The first day we were there, we spent time with my mom and sisters, caught How to Train Your Dragon (great movie, by the way, and the 3D wasn’t terribly obnoxious, as it sometimes can be; I definitely recommend it), and spent a lot of time playing dominoes and cards.
Saturday was the real fun, though; a picnic with most of my mom’s side of the family. My warnings were apparently not needed, though, as they were mostly harmless. (Only a few asked us when we were going to get married, and the comments about when we were going to start having kids were kept to a minimum). After celebrating Easter on Sunday (and Merry (Belated) Easter to my fellow Christians, by the way; here’s hoping you had a happy and inspiring one), we had a good drive home, and I’ve since been working frantically to get caught up on my blogging and other activities.
As is so often the case, the experiences I had while on our trip got me thinking about money, and extracting possible thoughts for a blog entry. (This very blog entry, for that matter.) So here you are, some lessons from the road:
1) Monopolies lead to higher prices: One of the less fun experiences we had in Philly (again, not counting the ‘traffic that shall not be named’) was paying out the nose for a meal at the Philadelphia Art Museum Cafeteria. We ended up paying thirty dollars for a meal that was less substantial than any I’ve had in a while, one that left us hungry a short time later.
It’s the same reason that movie popcorn costs so much; because they have a largely captive audience and there are few other sources of food, they can charge much more than people would otherwise pay. They have an effective monopoly on food in their little universe, and can charge what they want as result; if I hadn’t paid so much for the food, I’d very appreciative of the lesson in applied economics. (While I’m kvetching, the Picasso exhibit they had didn’t include nearly enough actual Picasso; it was more of the people who inspired him or were working in the same style nearby. A bit of false advertising, that is to say.)
2) The ‘Puppy Dog Close’ Doesn’t Work if Used Repeatedly: The aforementioned picnic where Sondra and I were questioned by all my relatives was held at the home of one of my aunts,who breeds and raises puppies. This time, there was a new litter of adorable six-week old puppies on site, ready to be foisted upon unsuspecting relatives. As always, there were plenty of attempts to get us to take a puppy (or seven) home with us.
The thing is, this is far from the first time such an attempt has been made. Since I was rather young (when we did actually get a puppy from my aunt), they’ve been trying to get us to take home puppies; over time, we’ve just gotten inured to their attempts. In the same way, repeatedly saying no to salespeople will help you to build up a mental ‘callus’, making it easy to ignore their techniques (including the ‘Puppy Dog Close‘) in the future.
3) Some things are worth paying for: During our trip, we left our puppy Toby (the picture above is not him; it’s the same breed as little Toby, though) with Sondra’s mom. Unfortunately, Toby decided to be a complete brat during our absence, refusing to eat much food, barking at all hours of the night, and constantly trying to escape during his walks. Even if it was because he missed us, it was still a huge inconvenience to Sondra’s mom.
Before our next trip, we’ll need to do something to make our next trip easier on Toby (and whomever has the fun of caring for him). Boarding him while we head out, taking him to training, keeping him with us to watch over him; all of these options will add costs to our trips, but will be worthwhile if we can make the trip easier on him (and in turn, easier on us). It’s not necessarily the most frugal option that is the best one; sometimes, you have to spend money, particularly when family (or family pets) are involved.
There you are, our trip (and some of the thoughts that popped in my mind from reading too many personal finance blogs). Once again, I hope that everyone had a great holiday weekend, and I’ll see you tomorrow with more insightful blog commentary!
P.S. Alright, about the traffic: it wasn’t that bad. I am just a small town boy at heart (although, I was actually born in Philly, believe it or not), and what was probably at worst a mildly bad day for traffic seemed much worse to my eyes. Still, I managed to make it into the city and then back out without any serious problems, so I’m pretty darn happy about all that. Still, if we go back, we will (a) avoid driving as much as possible, (b) try to keep the car away from the busiest intersections, and walk where we want to go (it’s healthier, anyway), and (c) not drive during rush hour. Never, never, NEVER again.