Monday, January 14, 2013

Decision Fatigue: Snaps Edition

I had a breakdown yesterday after spending half an hour in a fabric store trying to decide whether to buy snaps.

We're living on a ridiculously low income right now, while Bad Cohen is in grad school. This is compounded by the fact that I haven't found steady work in the hellish economy that is Cleveland and our spaz of a kid is in an expensive private school because we didn't want to let his tiny spirit be crushed until he reaches middle school, like everyone else.

So my days are an unending barrage of decisions about making trade-offs in which I end up feeling guilty and besieged no matter what I choose: I can buy unethical, factory farmed, cheap food and worry that I'm poisoning my family, or outrageously expensive organic food and worry that we'll use up all our money and be out on the streets; I can spend the next hour trolling for jobs that have over 200 applicants and low wages and won't meet our schedule or building my freelance website for work that people need but don't want to pay for, or goof off by doing fun design work that builds my portfolio but that I can't sell because everyone's getting similar stuff for cheap on Etsy.

Enter the jeans.

The Kid is growing all the time. Growing means new clothes. Clothes are freaking expensive, especially given that he'll tear through the knees of a new pair of pants within about a month. So we put out the call to relatives for bargain-hunting on used clothes in his sizes. One great-aunt came through with an awesome stash that included jeans he loved.

Now, The Kid is a sweatpants kind of guy. Part of his MO has always been refusal to wear anything the slightest bit form-fitting or complicated. Finding jeans he likes is only slightly less amazing than wondering how Superman gets into a skin-tight suit in the confines of a phone booth.

The jeans he loves are missing one part of the snaps.

(Head, meet wall.)

At this point, I can either find a matching snap (nearly impossible) or remove the remaining old one (which idea makes the fabric store personnel raise their eyebrows and start backing slowly away). Also, they don't sell a pair of snaps (the two parts that go together); they sell multiples. Plus the special "snap tools" you need to install them.

After 10 minutes, I calculate that replacing the snaps on these jeans will cost upwards of $15 and require Herculean effort. It takes another 20 minutes of back and forth on the merits of this particular pair of (free but useless) jeans for me to completely lose it and end up sobbing in the car.

I'm an editor. I'm used to making tough decisions on a tight deadline with high stakes. But I was reduced to a puddle over a pair of used jeans. And then what I really wanted was to go buy and eat an entire pint of Haagen Dazs (@cost = 1/4 of a pair of new jeans).

It seems that my 2013 insight is into what keeps the poor entrenched in poverty. It's not pretty.


Anonymous Vicki said...

That really sucks.

Couple things:

1) Do you do freecycle? I'm gonna assume they're really active where you live; they are where I live.

2) Could you do some data entry work in the meantime? I know Mechanical Turk probably doesn't pay enough to make sense, but something like that...maybe ODesk as well.

3) Does it really matter that you're eating factory-produced food, as long as it's cheap? Aldi is super-cheap and they have a really good fruit/veggie selection, as well as frozen foods that aren't too bad, like fish and frozen veggies you can stir fry.

4) Do the snaps have to match, absolutely? I remember having tons of hand-me-down clothes when I was little that were old/out of season/weird-looking because my parents were just getting our sea legs in America.

Sometimes if you think you don't have a choice, it's easier on the brain.

1/14/2013 1:40 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

Be strong. Someday it will be better. And we're rooting for you.

1/14/2013 6:50 PM  
Blogger Tzipporah said...

Thanks for the kind words.

The snaps have to match closely enough to actually close. The snaps don't actually matter, it was just the tipping point of the whole month.

And our food stuff is complicated because we're committed ethically to organic practices b/c of worker safety issues and from living in the Pacific NW for year, and because Bad Cohen has health issues that make food stuff tricky.

1/15/2013 3:41 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

You really must post more often.
You and Search For Emes.

2/12/2013 3:58 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

It has been too long.
Please come out of hiding.

The J-blogs are getting problematic with only the loonies still posting.

4/23/2013 3:04 PM  

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