Tuesday, May 29, 2007

WULAD's Konsumer Korner

Well, I had a busy holiday weekend, spent memorializing our nation's honored dead in most American way possible--shopping. The first stop was Circuit City, where I showed how last-century I am by attempting to purchase a stereo. (For those of you under the age of 100, a "stereo" is a primitive machine which only plays audio sounds, and probably entertained your grandparents after a hard day's dinosaur hunt.)

The first thing I discovered upon arriving at the store was that Circuit City makes all their money off ginormous $3000 televisions now. The "home audio" section was dark and deserted, and filled with dusty "open box" specials, none of which were connected to anything. After ten minutes or so, I managed to abduct an employee in between TV sales. He showed me a few cobweb-covered receivers before demonstrating his awesome knowledge with this tidbit:

Salesman: Now I know the Sony says "100 Watts" and the Onkyo says "100 Watts" too, but what you really gotta pay attention to is the RMS. That's what makes the difference.

Me: Okay, and what is RMS?

Salesman: [pauses] I don't know.
He also showed me a home theater system which he suggested might work well for audio only--and it was actually plugged in, and with speakers connected! Unfortunately it was tuned to a non-existent radio station, and when I asked how to change it, he said, "Yeah, you need the remote for that." And where was the remote? He didn't know. (The RMS really kicked ass on that dead air, though.)

Eventually I gave up, and C-Baby graciously agreed to go with me to another store branch. The second store actually was much better--the salesman tried to be helpful, and I settled on a receiver and some speakers. In fact, the experience was perfect, right up to the moment when I opened the box at home to find one single speaker inside.

When I called Circuit City, a helpful employee informed me that "those speakers are sold as singles." As you can imagine, I was so thrilled to receive this information that I nearly shat my pants with gratitude.

The second adventure involved the assembly of a giant behemoth of a bookshelf from a certain Nordic mass-produced discount furniture emporium which is better at making meatballs than furniture. Everything was going fine, until I reached the diagram at right--looks easy, doesn't it? What the picture fails to illustrate is that the shelf on the left doesn't exactly fit, and each time you attempt to guide the little pegs into the little holes, five or six pegs on the other shelves pop out, and your heart rate rises exponentially as you increase your effort, both in force and profanity, causing more pegs to pop out, until the entire structure collapses into a giant plywood pile of hubris, with yourself pinned underneath, a quivering, bloody, broken man. The instruction manual actually includes an accurate representation of this process:

Thankfully C-Baby stepped in at the last minute to prevent me from murdering the shelf, and with equal parts blood, sweat, tears, and chipped beech veneer, we were eventually able to complete the mission. The moral of the story is: don't buy things!