Monday, July 30, 2007

Counting the Psychic Cost of Crap

I'd love to know whether anyone has ever come up with a Psychic Cost of Crap Calculator. The PCCC, which should be small enough to carry with you and perhaps have a built in scanner, could provide you with real time calculations of the value of stuff. It would be like a pocket sized version of those Check Price scanners in Kmart or Target. The difference ... it would be honest. The PCCC would be to give an estimate of the value of something based on a time horizon more distant than the nearest cash register.

I can see by your muddled expression that I need to be more detailed. As any suburban father can tell you, the already paltry variety of fast food narrows further when there are three children in the back seat who have seen golden arches. They want to go where they can get a happy meal (more on the biting irony of that moniker in a later installment). The reason they want the happy meal isn't because of their craving for parts is parts nuggets of chicken or deep fried fries. No. They crave the plastic wrapped toy dropped in each bag.

Hang with me. What is the cost of that toy? Let's say it happens to be a squashed version of Darth Vader. It is a plastic extruded, painted object two inches tall with no moving parts. In fact, it is only a toy in the sense that the meal it comes with is happy. The lady at the drive thru window will be quick to tell you that the toy is free. If you don't believe me, tell them to keep the diminished dark jedi and deduct it from your bill. But while she tells you its free, as if that's a good thing, it's also a lie. The PCCC would scan the toy faster than mini-DV could slip to the dark side and reveal on its led screen "Happy Meal Toy Value is -$122."

But how could that be? Because once that little sith lord gets into the paws of one of your children, it becomes a part of your collection of crap. Lest I be accused of being crude, I am using the word "crap" for its technical definition of something with a net worth less than zero. It may have some postive value, unfortunately it is outweighed by its negative value. I'm pretty sure that that's the definition for crap in the Wikipedia - or it will be about five minutes after I finish this entry.

That toy once it gets into you car is something you have to get out of the car at some point. Even if you are just scooping it up to throw it away, it has already crossed the line into crapdom. More likely your child, in the shallowest resemblance of responsbility, will get the toy out of the car with them. Unfortunately, the thin veil will be torn the second anything else remotely interesting appears within your child's field of view. Then the toy will be dropped, kicked or thrown to the side. From wherever it lands, the negative value will only grow. If it just lays there it contributes to the disorder in the room (It craps the room up). If you wind up picking it up to put away (and is there really any place for it other than the trash), more time wasted on crap. Finally, if left on the floor, you manage to step on it barefooted later in the evening...well nobody likes stepping on crap.

The PCCC could have told you up front that you would be upside down on the happy meal deal before you left the drive thru window. And holding the display screen so they can see the evil they are doing, you could tell them - "No, actually I don't owe you $9.53. If you want me to take out your crap, you'll be paying me $190.47." I mean, isn't that the way it should be?