10 September 2012

Relative Pricing of Durable Goods

I had to buy a plunger. Once. Twice, maybe.

The only time I'm aware of having done it is in college. Something needed plunging and my rental house did not come with a plunger.

In almost all other circumstances you think,

"Oh no. No... I need a plunger."

And then there it is! It was under the sink, thank God. Or behind the toilet or it just appeared and you swear there wasn't one there before.

Now you don't need to draw attention to your host (via yelling from the bathroom) that you absolutely overwhelmed their low-flow toilet with your evacuative efforts. Or that you blew your nose and flushed a single tissue and now there's blue toilet water 2 centimeters away from running over the lid and down the stairs to the guests waiting below.

The guests who are wondering.

Wondering what it is that you're doing upstairs in the guest bathroom and why exactly it's taking so long. Are you okay?  Have you never seen so many Reader's Digests in one place before and you've lost track of time?

Are you "okay"? Which means that someone assumes you're expressing your internal organs into the toilet bowl and whoever draws the short straw has to go knock on the door and make sure you haven't died.

Now for the rest of the dinner party, even though everyone has probably forgotten the Pooping Incident you know that they're really struggling to make it through their meals without running through the entire four minute event in their heads. Over and over again. What could they have done differently? Could they have engaged in more small talk to distract themselves and each other from your absence? Would loudly singing hymns have masked the true nature of your excusing yourself?

Thank God you found that plunger.

But what if you had to buy one? Where would you start? How much would you expect to pay?

On the one hand, this is a very simple tool. Really just a rubber cup and a wooden handle.

On the other hand, this tool saves you the unpleasant task of reaching your arm into the toilet up to your shoulder and manually fixing the situation by hand. I know manually means by hand.

I repeated it for emphasis.

If you asked me how much money I would give you to not do what I've just described above, I think i would say "between $50 and $100, depending on the nature of the crime." And I wouldn't be lying. I saw this X-Files one time where Mulder and Scully were in a sewer with some kind of bullshit FBI monster and one of them fell in. Fell in! I was twelve-ish at the time and I thought "just fucking kill me".

So what I'm saying is that a plunger should cost a little and a lot of money. If you're feeling fancy you can get one of those accordion style plungers:

The advantage is that it won't flip inside out, like an umbrella in a windstorm in a toilet. The disadvantage is that the nature of the task may leave you wanting for a tool with less crevices.

Something simpler?

Bam. The fair market price for a plunger is $7.88. This one has a white handle and a black "shame hiding" cup so I think it's at the higher end of the basic plunger spectrum.

While I would gladly pay $30 - $300 for a plunger, I am happy that the market does not take advantage of my ignorance and fear of toiletastrophes (Toilet ass trophies? No.). The money I save by not overspending on plungers allows me to continue paying for expensive therapy to address my crippling fear of restroom-related social anxiety.

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