I just got in from Black Friday shopping. To be honest – what I really mean is I just back from Black Friday driving. That’s my job. I am the wheel man. My wife is the shopper. Professionally she teaches kindergarten but unknown to most of the world she is in fact some kind of a savings savant. She can calculate discounts in her head faster than a quantum computer can crank out places of pie. For years she has been telling me that she is saving me money by spending it. I used to think this was just some kind of expression of the infamous female logic. Now I think I have discovered the secret.
The logic goes like this. I need socks because I can never find a complete pair so shopping begins. If you spend $50 you get $10 in Kohl’s Cash which is like real money but really only sounds like money. You can only spend that in one place and oh by the way, while you are there there is a sale where you can you take and additional 15% off the already 35% discounted item if you buy two of the things you really don’t need but it is such a good buy you can’t pass it up and a savings vortex forms.
This entire chain of events began with a simple request for new socks priced at $3.95 but as far as I can tell they ended up costing around $400.00. Yet by her calculations, accounting for the discounts, the infamous Kohl’s cash and the probability that we might want to give more than one engaged couple a deviled egg platter we saved $800.00. Isn’t that great?
She tries to explain it to me but it always ends with the same result. I just don’t get it.
Late last night though I was watching an episode of Nova after my kids had passed out from the exhaustive task of spending every nickel they can find. Some sandal wearing hippie was explaining the cosmos using a pasta analogy when I finally stumble on my real problem. I have been using the wrong discipline to understand this phenomenon.
I have been trying to use accounting but this is a much higher form of mathematics than you will find at the average H&R Block. All these years I have been looking in the wrong place for the accumulation of wealth one would normally associate with the concept of saving. You see my wife is in fact a quantum shopper. I don’t need algebra I need quantum mechanics to understand shopping. Let me try to illustrate.
When savings are accumulated they must go somewhere. There must be someplace where that wealth shifts as money leaves my account. The store just this morning told me I saved almost $1000 by spending $300. They didn’t keep it.Where did it go?
The answer is obvious – it is in the multi-verse. As my wife spends money, cash goes to the store for salaries, profit etc. As she saves money though – the negative flow of cash from my accounts creates wealth in an account from another universe balancing the equation.
Probability says that at any given time that the saved money may or may not be in my timeline. I call this principal Schrödinger’s wallet. If I never really look for it, probability says I am simultaneously wealthy and financially ruined. I don’t know which until I check. Logically from now on when I want to spend money I should just stop looking to see if it is there.
Now you would expect to find some evidence of this quantum savings shift elsewhere – something like a tear in the fabric of my pocket where the money falls into a black hole. You can’t actually see that but if the theory is true probability says I should also discover money that isn’t there. Interestingly this happens all of the time. Just do laundry. My clothes dryer is in fact a wormhole to the universe where an alternate version of myself wins the lottery every time there is a sale on this side and cosmologically speaking he has enough unmatched socks to carpet his house.
The only problem is that far more socks go into the wormhole than money returns. Which brings me full circle to understanding the reason that my $3.95 pair of socks costs me $400.00. Quantum shopping.
I take comfort in the fact Einstein didn’t like quantum theory either. I don’t like quantum shopping but I suppose I must accept it until a better idea comes along. Perhaps another husband/valet/porter, circling a mall parking lot will devise a great unifying sock theory that reunites the separated pair and finally lets me spend Kohl’s cash at Chick-fil-A.
Updated: 6 Adventures in Thought – #6 addresses Schrodinger’s unfortunate cat problem.