I did something kind of dumb a few weeks ago. As I mentioned the other day, I got a new iPhone. I initially went to buy it after having brunch with Laurie, Kim, and Jessica. I walked into the Apple Store with a small list of questions having to do with the fact that my laptop was from several OSes ago and could no longer support newer versions of iTunes and therefore could not update newer versions of iOS. This wasn’t a huge problem, since iPhones now have cloud storage, but the only thing to consider was that I would have trouble transferring images and contacts and stuff from old phone to new.
If you’ve been to an Apple Store, you know that everyone who is working there during your visit (all 50 of them), are extremely friendly and personable and have drunk enough of the Apple Kool-Aid that they’re JUST SO HAPPY FOR YOU THAT YOU’RE BUYING AN APPLE PRODUCT. The college student that I ended up oddly attached to was nice and kind and seemed to genuinely like me. And I’m not sure what happened, but I eventually heard myself saying, “I’ll take a MacBook Pro, please.”
The next 20 or so minutes were a blur of credit cards and rebates and Cloud set ups. I walked out of the store with a new laptop and a free-after-rebate printer in my hands. And I was pretty happy about my purchases until the fumes from the store wore off. Then I began to wonder if I’d acted foolishly.
I did want a new a laptop, though I wouldn’t have gone so far to claim that I needed one. But the one thing that I knew for certain was that I couldn’t afford one. I had, as I said, put it on a credit card, which wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world if it wasn’t the credit card that had been the bane of my existence since I got it as a wee college senior. Its interest rate was too high and the balance had been circling the same embarrassingly high amount for years. I would pay a chunk off and then something would happen and I would need funds that I didn’t have and out it would come. But for the most part, I had protected it from big impulse purchases.
When I got home, however, the majority of my brain was still excited about my new toy. The husband looked at my haul, puzzled. “Uh, why did you buy that?” he asked. I didn’t have an answer besides, “I just really wanted it.”
We didn’t argue and the husband didn’t try to make me feel bad, but I quickly began to feel ashamed of myself for doing something so impulsive and selfish and financially reckless.
I kept the laptop in its box and over the next few days tried to determine whether or not I could really afford the payments that I would be making and trying to deal with the fact that I had essentially put myself back a whole year in paying down that card. Eventually, I realized what I needed to do.
On Saturday, I went to a different Apple Store than the one where I had purchased the laptop. I didn’t want to risk seeing my buddy from the big purchase. The face of the Genius who helped me fell when I told her the reason for my visit. She seemed personally hurt and sad that I would return such a wonderful thing. And I’d be lying if I said that a tiny part of me didn’t hope that there would some reason that they would say that they couldn’t accept the return, that I would be forced (or “forced”) to keep the shiny pretty thing. But eventually I walked out of there, empty-handed but with the promise of a thousand-dollar bad idea soon to be erased.
I’m thankful for my impulses, for whatever it is that tells me to go for it. Those impulses got me a partner that I can’t imagine my life without and a son who makes the world a little bit better every day. They got me a house that surely does it what it can to drive me crazy, but that I can tell is going to be a center for us and my kid and his kids for years to come. They certainly give me some headaches, like when they drive me to make major purchases without really thinking them through. But if I don’t do that sometimes, I don’t get the opportunity to remind myself that I’m pretty good about fixing my mistakes.