In the play Lady Windemere’s Fan, Oscar Wilde had Lord Darlington quip that a cynic was ‘a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.’
Well as it turns out, not only do I not know the value of anything, I don’t know the price of anything either.
We are in the midst of getting ready to get some work done to our house, and part of the process is getting bids on various parts of the job.
One of those jobs is refinishing the hardwood floor in our kitchen. We’ve never had this done before, and so I had no idea what was involved. But for some reason I had a number in the back of my head that I thought it might cost: $500. I had no basis for such a guess, and so when the estimate came in at $2,500, I was quite surprised, to say the least. At this point we’re not even sure if we want to get a second bid, since it’s likely to be much higher than I originally had thought it would be anyway It may be one of those tasks that has to wait until another time.
Another part of the work is putting in a new ceiling and overhead lights in our family room. The contractor suggested that if we were thinking of getting a more modern TV for our family room, this would be a good time to do so. He noted that you can get a really good TV these days for just $700-800. The “just” part of that statement threw me for a loop. I think of TVs as being in the $300-400 range.
Anyway, I thought what do I know, and went on the web to do some searching for TVs, and found indeed the range for a 55-65 inch TV is in that range. So today we happened to be at Best Buy, and I thought I would start looking at some TVs. The salesman I met was phenomenal; he seemed to know everything there was about TVs, and was able to answer all of my questions.
When I was introduced to him, the first question he asked was how big our family room was. He then showed me a room set up as a home theater that was roughly the size of our family room and asked me how the size of the TV seemed. Since we currently have a 32″ TV, just about every TV in the showroom looked much better. I told him that the TV looked just about the right size, and he replied that it was a 65″ TV, and then he took me back out to the showroom to walk me though the features of the various 65″ TVs on display. He explained about colors, angles, pixels, LED, OLED, etc., but I didn’t feel overwhelmed since he explained it so well.
He noted that the OLEDs offer the best picture, and when looking at an OLED next to an LED, the differences were noticeable. He hadn’t yet asked me what price range I was thinking about, but from my basic research on the web, I was assuming that all of the TVs he was showing me would be under $1,000. I was relieved when I saw a price tag under one of the 65″ OLED models for $899, and I said that was in my price range and seemed to offer a great picture for the price.
He then pointed out that the $899 was for the soundbar that one could purchase to go with the TV; the TV itself was $3499. I’m sure him and the other salesmen got a good laugh out of my naïveté after we left.
He then proceeded to show me TVs that were closer to my price range, but he felt that the sweet spot for the quality I was looking for and the size I wanted was probably in the $1300-1500 range. Another salesmen told me that the sound quality is usually not that great with these large TVs; hence the need for a separate soundbar, which go from $150 on up.
All of a sudden what I thought was going to be in the $700-800 range was now in the mid-teens, and this was before all the extras needed, such as cables and mounting hardware, as well as the cost of installation. Essentially, I’m looking at a $2000 TV, which I originally had guessed to be around $300-400.
It’s been hard trying to first define what we want the scope of this remodeling project to be, and second tryin to decide the specific aspects of what will be done. For example, we need to decide what kind of flooring in our family room – hardwood, engineered laminate, or carpet, and once we decide on that, we need to choose a particular color and style, and price range. We also need to decide on flooring for our bathrooms, what color to paint the walls, what kind of bathtub and fixtures to get.
Making such decision is hard enough, but when you have no clue what the price, or value, of anything is it makes it even harder.
Thankfully, our contractor seems to understand my severe lack of understanding of any of these things, and seems to be willing to guide us successfully through the process.
This whole experience has just reinforced my belief that I’ll never understand why someone would pay more than $5 for a t-shirt or $40 for a pair of jeans. Or are those prices also as far off as my estimate of what it costs to refinish a floor?
Since I don’t know the price of anything, I can’t be a cynic. But I wondered if there was a word for someone who knew neither the price or value of something.
I then remembered back to what Grandmom Borden used to call me, an omadhaun.
I knew it was an Irish word, and I had the sense she wasn’t using the word to praise me, but I was never really quite sure of what it meant.
So tonight I looked it up, and yes, she was describing me to a tee:
omadhaun: A fool, someone who is out of their senses, simpleton.
I always knew the Irish had a way with words.