Re: Budgeting


The first. You can't actually do it.

Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 09-18-05 12:52 PM
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#2 is interesting, whereas #1 is just bad form. And no, I have never known anyone that cheap.

Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 09-18-05 12:54 PM
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Couldn't you do 1 if you made it into a game: It's not that I mind spending money on food, but it wouldn't it be fun to see if we can get a good meal just by walking around whole foods?

Also, man that's cheap. I would defend the second one as standing up for principle.

Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 09-18-05 1:07 PM
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#1 only works once you're a couple and you've agreed to do it for fun. If I were on such a date I'd be torn between excusing myself to the ladies room and disappearing or sticking it out so I could totally make fun of the guy on my blog and with my friends. There would be no second date. Not that I even would expect a date to cover my dinner (although they almost always do, I've learned, in grown-up land; my how things have changed since I was single at 20!), but if someone can't/won't even buy themselves a decent dinner ...

Posted by: profgrrrrl | Link to this comment | 09-18-05 1:31 PM
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#1 is cheaper, but #2 is so silly as to beggar the imagination. I can't really imagine a case where #1 would be OK, but I really can't imagine hanging out for very long with someone who did #2.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-18-05 1:38 PM
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At least it's Whole Foods, rather than Sam's Club -- there's a certain class and refinement in the former, although I think your odds of getting a full meal are much better at the latter.

Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 09-18-05 1:50 PM
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#2 is not (necessarily) an issue of cheapness, it's an issue of feeling pissed off that someone is screwing you.

Suppose you see a mail-order ad for 4 I don't know, batteries, for a dollar, you send in your cash, and get 3 in the mail. Sure you are only out 25c, but that's not the point; the point is that you feel cheated and your anger is at being cheated, not at losing 25c. The feeling is completely different from say, losing 25c, or buying 4 batteries at Ralphs for $1.25, then seeing that at Target you could have bought them for $1.00. Finding 25c on the sidewalk isn't going to reset your sense of equilibrium.

The issue is that the feeling of being cheated inspires irrationally strong feelings of anger. (Cue up the evolutionary psychology music...)

Posted by: Maynard Handley | Link to this comment | 09-18-05 2:30 PM
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I work at a bank.

Sometimes people get charged fees by the bank. This makes them enraged, even when they have thousands and thousands of dollars in their account and a five-dollar fee will make no dent in their balance.

And every single time they squeak (or did, when I still had customer contact) about the principle of the thing when ordering me to remove the fee.

So, yeah, number 2 is a feeling-cheated thing, and not a cheap thing.

Posted by: winna | Link to this comment | 09-18-05 2:39 PM
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Number 1 is so obviously cheap that it has to be a joke -- either bad date performance art or an attempt to establish one's punk rock bonafides with a lady who's into that kind of thing (as most ladies are).

I get that Number 2 isn't necessarily cheap on account of the whole "feeling-cheated thing." On the other hand, I think the context matters. Is it ever acceptable for an American to feel cheated out of a trivial sum in a poor country?

I therefore vote for number 2 as indicating a much greater degree of cheapness.

Posted by: pjs | Link to this comment | 09-18-05 2:47 PM
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If you're willing to stipulate that the chances of his being cheated are greater than the chances of his being confused by foreign customers, the argument that he should be more accepting of being cheated because he can afford it holds no weight with me. Sure, it would be good if he (and all other Americans, incl. me) gave more to people in Pakistan (and other countries) who are in need. But is the proper mechanism to distribute that money to let people who try to cheat you keep it?

Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 09-18-05 3:13 PM
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You're right that that wouldn't be the proper method of distribution. But that's not how I meant the argument to work. My thinking was that your relative wealth cancels out your right not to be cheated out of trivial sums of money. Here's an example of the kind of cancelling I have mind. If I am a starving hiker, I have a right to help myself to some of the food in your unoccupied cabin. But we don't say that's what happening in that case is that I am taking advantage of our social mechanism for delivering food. We merely say that facts particular to our interaction cancel out your property right against me. I'm not saying that the Pakistan example is exactly analogous by any means. Only that (to my thinking) it involves the same kind of moral operation.

Posted by: pjs | Link to this comment | 09-18-05 3:30 PM
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I certainly accept that necessity can lead to a temporary suspension of property (and somtimes other) rights. I know you say that they're not analagous, but they seem so disanalogous to me that I really don't see the connection.

Mightn't you also ask the hiker to repay you if they're able?

Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 09-18-05 3:40 PM
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#2 isn't about being cheated, it's about an officious rectitude (not the right word - w-lfs-n?) that isn't much fun to be around. If I go out to eat with people, I'd rather just split the bill evenly, even if my order cost less. If, because we need to watch our budgets, it makes sense to pay what you ordered, I refuse to get down to figuring out change. It's just asinine to do so, and I can't stand people who do it. If you're that worried about being cheated by the world, you should stay at home under your bed. It's safer.

Pakistan is a kleptocracy. He was cheated all the way through, I'm sure. Should he have been cheated? No. Was it fine to protest? Sure. But to get off a train as a matter of principle? In Pakistan? For $2? Crazy. And likely to be irritating to hang out with in the US.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-18-05 4:22 PM
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Dinner at Whole Foods could be a funny date thing if it was done as a joke, although not on a first date. It certainly doesn't reach the depths of the well-paid professional I knew who refused to pay for admission to the Met because the museum's entrance fee was a "suggested donation" and, therefore in his mind, optional.

Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 09-18-05 4:24 PM
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What SCMT said.

Posted by: pjs | Link to this comment | 09-18-05 4:36 PM
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"Rhadamanthine", maybe?

Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 09-18-05 4:50 PM
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#1 is miserly. Probably the sort whose portion of the tab comes to $17 and throws in $15.

#2 probably abuses waitresses to prove that he makes more money. How absurd to feel cheated over change in your pocket. It's two bucks. Skip half a latte when you get back and you're even.

Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-18-05 5:31 PM
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I have to say that I don't really think #2 is that bad (though jumping off the train is a bit much). The thing is, prices, for the most part, are not based on how much you can afford, because we tend to think that's unfair. It is nice to charge Bill Gates $200 for a latte? $200 is pittance to him, so what?

I guess I just feel personally about this because I have found myself in Cairo haggling over pittances. I grew up there, so I have a particularly strong sense of how much things should cost, when I go back to visit. So, for example, a 10-minute cab ride should cost about 3 Egyptian Pounds (L.E.), which is about $0.60. If someone tried to charge me 25 L.E. for that cab ride, I would certainy be pissed off and argue, and I would NOT pay it (although if the driver fought hard enough, I might give in and pay more than I would like). But 25 L.E. is $5, which is nothing. Does that make me a cheap asshole? Hope not.

Seriously, if all tourists just capitulated to paying amounts far beyond the standard price just because it's objectively not much money to them, it becomes widespread practice to try and rip people off. I think, in general, that that is not a good thing. Generosity is good, but it should be obtained willingly rather than by deception.

Posted by: silvana | Link to this comment | 09-18-05 5:57 PM
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It's not so much the protesting, but the storming off the train. Haggle, fine. Throw a temper tantrum? Not so much.

Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-18-05 6:24 PM
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I think #1 could be fun with the right person, under the right circumstances. #2 just shows a distinct lack of priorities.

Posted by: Saheli | Link to this comment | 09-18-05 6:50 PM
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If eating the free samples at Whole Foods is your way of getting through life then yes, you should take your date there.

Posted by: ogmb | Link to this comment | 09-18-05 7:19 PM
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What Silvana said.

Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 09-18-05 8:27 PM
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As Sam Rayburn used to say, if you want to get along, go along. With all due respect for the points about troubling precedent, it's crazy to jump off trains. I share SCMtim's irritation with those who want every last goddmamned thing to be a Matter of Principle.

I know, that too suggests a principle. Bite me.

Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-18-05 9:04 PM
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I think #2 works as art. Certainly moreso than rolling around in ketchup.

Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 09-18-05 9:10 PM
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Posted by: [redacted] | Link to this comment | 09-18-05 9:29 PM
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I thought you were going for 'godmanned'.

Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-18-05 9:32 PM
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For #2 he might just have wanted to jump off a moving train.

Posted by: joe o | Link to this comment | 09-18-05 10:23 PM
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Having spent a fair amount of time on the trek/backpack circuit, this guy's actions sound familiar: there's a certain mindset that sets in about wringing every last bit of worth out of every last cent. So for example you scrape out even the minutest tiny little bits of butter or jam from the little packet they give you with your toast because hey, you paid for it, and hey, it's calories. And if the person next to you doesn't do the same, then you avail yourself of their little leftover bits of jelly or butter too. Some people never get over this mindset.

Also a common occurence on the circuit are those who engage in a form of oneupmanship with other trekkers about how cheaply they've been able to do everything thus far:

Trekker 1: "Dude, I found a place to stay in Beijing that was only five quai per night!"

Trekker 2: "Was it that place on Xingming Lu? Yeah, I found that place, but then I thought 'fuck it' and just slept under a tree. I think I almost got frostbite . . .

All that said, I've never been to Pakistan, but every bignose I've known who either lived in or travelled through China for an extended period of time sooner or later reached a point where they had some sort of freakout with some local over some trivial amount of money, just because it was the umpteenth-hundredth time that they felt they were being screwed over just for being a foreigner. So ogged's friend may not have been the type who wanted "every last goddmamned (sic) thing to be a Matter of Principle", he may have just reached his freakout point.

However, umping out of a moving train is pretty extreme (and stupid), and for me and most of the people I knew, their freakout story was told with humility and even embarrassment, not as a kind of boast about how principled or thrifty they were.

Posted by: Mitch Mills | Link to this comment | 09-19-05 7:26 AM
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Um, "jumping".

Posted by: Mitch Mills | Link to this comment | 09-19-05 7:26 AM
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Umping out of a moving train is stupid, as well, what with Einstein's point that one can never exactly determine the simultaneity of two events separated by distance, and then adding in the moving frame of reference for the train makes it all the more impossible.

Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 09-19-05 7:47 AM
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I dated a shoplifter. She did it because she couldn't stand to pay the high price of the candy at the check out counter.

When she paid for a meal for me (a special occasion) I felt the need to sneak back to add a tip.

This didn't last long. I thought I could change her. She thought it was absolutely insane the way I plowed through cash. And yes, she was smoking hot, and really really smart. And funny. And kind when it came to her time and her thoughts. But the money thing made me crazy...

Posted by: benton | Link to this comment | 09-19-05 9:31 PM
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How fast was the train moving?

Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 09-20-05 8:21 AM
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No idea. But I like to imagine it speeding through high mountains, and him leaping out and rolling down rocky terrain, a look of satisfaction on his face.

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-20-05 8:34 AM
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I picture him holding a bank note high over his head, catching the wind as he glides to safety Mary Poppins-style.

Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 09-20-05 8:39 AM
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A nice image, though I don't think he'd risk the note like that.

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-20-05 8:42 AM
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I should have guessed he'd rather free-fall.

Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 09-20-05 8:55 AM
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Today is great day:)


Posted by: Phrrrep | Link to this comment | 09-28-05 4:25 AM
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