Monday, November 28, 2011

From the Cleveland Post September 25, 2010


by K. S. Volcjak

There's a whole lot of arguing- I mean 'debating' going on these days. Its hunting season for new ideas for public policy. Time for politicians to round up some of their own, shoot down those of their opponents, and try to house-break 'fiscal responsibility' enough to get them into office without getting bitten in the butt later. There's an election on November 2, in case you haven't heard.

We try to be fiscally responsible in our house. Our private policy requires a balanced budget but I like to be prudent (now there's a politically unpopular word), and so am always looking for new ideas to save money.

High on my chopping list is the satellite bill, the ridiculous amount of money we pay to rot our brains when we should be out-- wait, that's a different topic.

My husband doesn't see it like that. He lived for many years in the mountains, in the days before cable and satellite were ubiquitous, when one was thankful for whatever portion of the broadcast signal that showed up on the TV set. He got two stations. By his own admission, he has been making up for lost time ever since he moved down here and got cable.

To be fair, he does watch a lot of informative stuff that we both like-news, history, science, news. But if he isn't home, the TV is off. Budgetwise, it comes down to this: I love him, his expensive hobbies are in remission or were funded before my time, and he's the one with the paying job, so he gets to choose the programming package. We don't argue.

We still need to save money. My attention was caught by ads for that service offering unlimited movies for only $9 a month. This looked promising, as it met his criteria for variety and spontaneity, and my criteria for thrift.

I mentioned it to him. He listened politely but unenthusiastically. Time passed and I mentioned it again. No. He didn't like it. Not interested. Why? Because you have to pay the fee whether you order movies or not. I reiterated the benefits of cost, of convenience, of variety, in new ways. He still didn't like it.

I didn't get it. What was not to like? For one low fee we could get all sorts of stuff on demand through the game system, in addition to mail order DVDs. It wouldn't be the same as scrolling through 250 channels to find the 60 or so you actually watch, but would make up for it in less time spent settling on the least bad thing and more time using our God-given intelligence to explore our less commercially viable interests, expand our horizons, and so be humans instead of vidiots, and .... Oops, I digress again.

Anyway. I showed him how much money we could save, told him about how much our neighbors enjoyed it, told him about the free trial, said that we should at least try it. His reaction indicated I should drop it.

I love him. He's allowed to be set in his ways. I dropped it.

One night, we were watching TV and the ad came on. "See?" I said.

"That's not what you were talking about."

"Yes, it is."

Even with the ad right in front of us (including replays through the DVR), it took a bit to sort out.

And then it dawned. His irrational rejection of my sensible proposal was based on outdated information, on the old meaning of "$9 a month movies." He hadn't noticed the change, and I hadn't noticed that he hadn't noticed. His rejection was perfectly rational. We were both right. We just weren't talking about the same thing.

Advertising can be so fluid. In a matter of months, a word can go from one meaning to another, all to make a sale.

Or to get a vote. Maybe the arguments-I mean debates-would accomplish more if they made sure they were talking about the same thing. Yeah, right.

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