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Wednesday · December 17 2003

I agreed to meet my dad after work at Best Buy to help him shop for a laptop. This week, I've spent odd moments researching budget options and I have arrived at a higher level of patience by explaining the differences between broadband and dialup and RAM and hard drive space. My dad and I are opposite sides of an identical coin. We are clones of each other in some respects, but we need a translator to communicate in others.

Best Buy employees make me insane. There's usually one or two guys in the store that have a clue and the rest just pretend to while pacing around. My father's trust in the blue shirted reps stems from his unfamiliarity with the products. He forces them to slow down, talk in plain terms, and if the Best Buy guy really is bullshitting, that will come out soon enough. Dad will go, "Hold it, hold it, hold it. Slow down. Talk to me." I'm embarrassed, but I shouldn't be. He's unafraid to admit what he doesn't know and he'll keep asking until he finds someone who explains in his language. If the rep continues to talk in circles and won't admit he doesn't know the answer, he'll be crying soon enough from my dad's interrogation tactics and demand for plainspeak.

I take the cynical role on store employees. Stay away. You're trying to screw me and make me buy crap I don't need, so leave me alone and let me struggle in peace. I'm so stubborn in my own research and advice from friends, I don't let these guys near me. Like the car mechanic, the real estate agent, and the health insurance rep, you just want to rob me blind and laugh about it later. Paranoid instincts, I'd say.

When my dad and I are talking to Mario at the PC counter, we're like a married couple conferring on what we actually need. Mario is a good salesman and he's technically sound. He's trying to sell us dozens of add-ons and peripherals with rebates, store coupons, replacement plans, and reward programs. I glaze over on all of it. Even if a good deal is to be found in the sales pitch, I can't react. The constant barrage of spam and junk mail has destroyed any trust and sensitivity I have towards people who sell me products. I say 'No' before I know what the question is. My father prefers the long, patient approach. He has Mario explain every part, rebate, and plan in detail. Then he turns to me and says, "Talk to me. What's he saying?"

What you had to say:
December 17 2003

I can potentially get you a discount on an IBM Thinkpad, FYI.

December 18 2003

I think I'd like to have you guys as my "team buyers". Kind of like buyers for a dept store. You balance each other out well. He asks the questions and peels away the onion; you come through with the technical knowledge and piece it back together. Make good shopping sense to me.

p.s. don't buy the "paint coat protection" for a computer. I got suckered into that along with the "bumper-to-bumper extended warranty" on my laptop.

© 2003 Jason Keglovitz