If they decide to expand the cast of “Big Bang Theory”, I’d think I am a shoo-in for the role. My approach to the whole excerise of shopping is one of great planning and scientific rationalization. I used pride myself about this until very, very recently, when alas the foundations of my well-founded pride were shaken up.
Whether I have had to purchase a car, a camera or a phone my procedure to procure has always been meticulous.
a. First figure out the lingo – are ABS the muscle that cars have? Does the CCD in a camera have anything to do with Coffee? Are phone companies actually talking about the EDGE of the phone? Usually, this means hours of googling, wiking and forum-hopping. After amassing enough information, so that I may be able to hold my own in a debate about the item I am considering, I move onto to my second step.
b. What’s out there – I create a spreadsheet that captures key features and then compare it across brands. For my phone, I had compared almost 20 models. Suprisingly, for the car, I had compared more. After I make this sheet, I eliminate models that do not satify on key parameters – no OIS, no Bluetooth, no wheels, etc.
c. Survey – This is usually where I need my fake smile the most. I go to the markets and try and befriend salesmen. I then ask them for their recommendations and include it in my list. Then I get the prices for all the models that I had shortlisted in my sheet and get his opinion on them. I also get to know about offers, deals and discounts. Faker smiles usually do the trick.
d. Elimination round – Now, I come back and relook at my list. Pricing usually gets rid of a lot of brands. After all the dust has settled, that usually leaves around 3-4 contenders.
e. Youtubing – I discovered that Youtube has a suprising number of videos that take you through everything about you want about the product. I send my models on a head to head and narrow the list down to two. To the others, I toss my hair back, point a finger and say “You’re fired”
f. Scientific purchase – Finally, I go to the store (not any of the stores I went to before .. most of them would have banned that smile from their showrooms) and decide between the two based on what I believe to be a myriad combination of various factors. Usually, I pick whichever’s black. 🙂
And I head back home, satisfied that I have bought the best product, at the best price, from the best place.
Yesterday, my mom called me up and told me that I needed to buy some clothes before I came to India. I was in a mall at the time, so I popped into the nearest clothing store.
I have never felt so lost, so redundant, so helpless in my life. I was groping for a store-wise, brand-wise, price-wise pivot table comparison. I began to sweat. How was I supposed to make an informed decision. How do I purchase the right thing? Should I pick what looked good for me? What if another piece looked good on me as well? What about lighting? Would I look good outside? Could I judge what looked good on me? Did I know anything about fashion? Would you wear a green T shirt with an orange pant and mellow that down by using fluorescent pink socks and a bright red cap?
I groped. I had difficulty breathing. I was hot under the collar. I knew my shirt was doing that just to taunt me. I was lost. I had never shopped for clothes on my own before, ever. I thought and thought about how I would do it.
A few minutes later, I was at the check-out counter. My mother had told me to get a couple of bright formal T-Shirts. The shopping lady asked me “Only one black T-Shirt, Sir?”
“Yes, that’s all”
As I stepped out, I had a feeling of relief sweep over. I could see better and my breathing came back to normal. I would be getting married soon. When I tell my wife “I love you, my sweet excel sheet”, I wonder if she’ll actually understand what a great compliment I’m giving her.