Saturday, February 4, 2023

Iced Coffee


Who the hell orders pancakes delivered?  Crazy!

Ordering food for delivery makes very little sense, even during a pandemic, particularly now that the pandemic is effectively over (Ha!) and infection and death rates are almost down to nothing (UPDATE: I just got Covid!).  Ordering breakfast delivered is even more ridiculous. From an economic point of view, it is just stupid - the cheapest meal of the day, pancakes, toast, fried eggs, delivered to your home at a cost ten twenty times more than you'd pay to make them at home.  And let's not even address the environmental cost - people driving all over the place delivering what is less than four bucks worth of food (but charging $25).  It just makes no sense.

And from an aesthetic point of view, even less so.  They call them "hotcakes" for a reason - they are best served right off the stove, piping hot with real butter on top and real maple syrup - not fake butter and corn syrup.  Not ice cold and soggy.

But I've ranted about this before - a couple leaves the island to drive 20 miles (at least) round-trip to get breakfast.  Economically it makes no sense.  From a time-management point of view it makes no sense.  Environmentally it makes no sense. From a health perspective, it makes no sense - starving yourself for another hour or so as you shower, shave and get dressed to go drive to a meal you can make at home for under a buck in ten minutes.  By the time you get there, you are so famished you over-eat.  It is just bad, bad, bad, all around.  The delivery factor makes it even worse.

But a lot of people claim they can afford this, which is the siren song of the employed living in the suburbs with other people under 50.  They secretly believe they will live forever and that there is always another paycheck down the road, so why not splurge on yourself?   Both propositions are wrong, of course, but it took moving to a retirement island to realize this.  A friend of ours came to visit and said, "All you talk about is money and death!" which might be true, when all your friends are in their 80's and dying or running out of money or both.  It is topic du jour amongst the retirement set.

Of course, the problem is, the two mindsets never meet.  When I was living in the suburbs of DC and commuting to work, my primary concerns were getting a good parking space and getting ahead of the asshole in the car ahead of me.  Money was something to be spent, preferably on things to show off my apparent wealth.  But what I didn't realize was that real wealth wasn't something you showed to other people.  All they see is apparent wealth, and any idiot can sign himself up into debt forever to have that.  Believe me, I know.

So, I get it.  People are "too busy" to cook, and working at home on that new report due tomorrow, they figure they can "send out" for breakfast as they can "afford it" when in reality, they are just pissing away money.  Even if you are making a six-figure salary (which even the Doordash driver probably makes these days) it is a huge chunk of your wealth you are pissing away, a little bit at a time.  As I noted before, if you make $100,000 a year, maybe 10% of that is "discretionary spending" as taxes, mortgage, and other payments suck up the rest (hopefully, funding your 401(k) is part of that).  So if you blow $1000 a year on delivery food or take-out (not hard to do, either), you've blown 10% of that discretionary income.  How'd you like a 10% effective raise?  Look in your wallet.

People - middle-class people - claim to be living "paycheck to paycheck" and they tell you this in a text message from their new smart phone while waiting for their food to be delivered, or waiting for their entree at some forgettable fast-casual eatery.   Someone took my money away!  That must be it, because everyone else lives like I do, so my spending can't be the problem, or can it?

The secret to wealth isn't a secret - it is right out in the open.  Spend less, save more, borrow less, or better yet, borrow nothing.   People hate that - it sounds too simple.  There has to be a trick or a special inside knowledge.  The tax code!  Chase that!  Deduct your way to wealth!  But what ends up happening is you end up chasing your tail.  Sure, take a deduction you are entitled to, and factor those in, when buying a house or an investment property.  But don't think that taking on more and more debt is creating wealth or that spending $20 on breakfast "makes sense" because you can spend all that time you "wasted" preparing your own food (all ten minutes of it!) making more money behind a computer screen.

It is a funny thing, but we as humans tend to complicate our lives and make them more expensive than they have to be.  People buy $100 coffee machines and spend a buck for a "cartridge" to make coffee and then argue it is "convenient" to do so - as if the "hassle" of everyday living has just overwhelmed them.   We are "conveniencing" ourselves to death, quite literally. We no longer do any physical work, like walking even.

People also make the argument that they like to have things "just their way" - so they go to a restaurant for breakfast, so he can have pancakes and she can have the omelette.  Never mind that each serving is more than enough food for three people - sharing the same food item is out of the question (and they call that a marriage?).   The cartridge coffee maker "makes sense" to them as she can have Chai Tea and he can have Cappuccino.  Such a commitment!

We make a big pot of coffee every morning - or tea - and share it.  We aren't afraid to commit to that - or to compromise on choices.  It isn't that hard to do, and the illusion of "free choice" is just an excuse to spend tons of money.  In the afternoon, if there is still coffee in the coffee maker, I put it in a tall tumbler, add some ice from the ice machine, and pour a little cream over it.  Take that, Starbucks!  Actual cost - nearly zero.   Yet others will get in their car, wait in line at the drive-through, to order a "coffee drink" to break up their afternoon.   I am in wonderment that their job allows them to do this, even.  We seem to have a lot of spare time in this country.  Or do they get their iced latte delivered?  Must be a pretty lukewarm latte by then!

The recession is coming and it is no joke.  Companies are laying off tens of thousands of employees, sometimes even abandoning entire product lines as well.   They know something we don't - or something we do know, but chose to ignore.  Meanwhile, on "Social Media" you see Suzie posting a Tick-Tock complaining about the $20 delivery fee for her Big Mac and how it went to the wrong house in Foreclosure Mews Estates subdivision.

These are the same folks who will be whining when the shit hits the fan - as it did back in 2008.  People lost jobs, lost their houses, their cars, even marriages.  And for what?  So they could have status.  This time around it will be even dumber - people broke and unemployed, because all their money went toward having a cheeseburger delivered.

It would be a "bring popcorn" moment if it wasn't so sad!