Posted by: nickgerlich | June 2, 2008

Hex In The City

I suppose if there is anything redeeming about unpredictability, it is that it’s fairly predictable.

After 22 years of marriage, my wife and I are putting ourselves to the ultimate test: we are renovating our home and trying to live in it at the same time. I recall a Far Side wannabe cartoon a few years back that showed a deceased man having to make a choice once he arrived in hell. His choices were “spend eternity in a lake of fire,” or “live in your home while it is being remodeled.”

I feel for that man. Heck, I am that man. And predictably, the agony stems from the unpredictabilities of two people trying to make important decisions together.

Man and Woman ShoppersYou see, my wife and I are very different shoppers. You can probably imagine how this plays out while shopping for paint, flooring, and furniture. I am a satisficer, and my wife is a maximizer. Satisficers approach shopping as a necessary evil, and seek to get it over with as soon as possible once there is sufficient information with which to make a reasonably informed decision.

And maximizers want to have every shred of information possible before even attempting to choose. If there is even a remote possibility that another store, even one in a distant town, may have one more color, style, or fabric we have not yet considered, my wife is there.

Is it any wonder then that my wife has waffled more than a breakfast entree down at the Waffle House? Or that I no longer really care as long as we have some paint, flooring, and furniture?

And therein lies the crux of the matter. To a scientist looking down on our little Petri dish, we are but two living cells engaged in molecular warfare. But to a marketer, we are yet another case study in the Consumer Behavior laboratory, each person interesting in his or her own way, but exponentially more intriguing once you consider the interaction effects.

I tell Becky that I cannot fathom how anyone could be a maximizer, how agonizing it must be dealing with the angst generated by not having complete and perfect consumer information. Becky accuses me of blowing off important decisions by just picking the second or third choice I see.

And sleeping well that night, thank you very much.

I could tell you stories from the two years prior to our marriage, but I will spare you the details, other than to say that I should have seen that pattern back then. Oil and water have never been better buddies, but sometimes we just don’t see the store through the same lens.

We both will be very happy when the remodel is done, and it is getting very close. The paint is on, the flooring is down, and the furniture arrives in a week. There’s a couple more smaller jobs remaining, but we can see the light at tunnel’s end…and this time it’s not a locomotive.

Becky has had a few frantic moments second-guessing her choices of colors, lighting, etc. And I have had to try to feign concern over whether that mango shade should be called “orange,” and whether the green wall has a 70s avocado vibe going for it. But it is all coming together, and it is looking good. I predict happy days ahead.

But if I had to do it all over, that lake of fire just doesn’t sound too bad.

Dr “In Living Color” Gerlich

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