Monday, July 25, 2011

Shopping is Like Breakfast...

Above is a valuable lesson for all of us to learn. However, it is one that requires a bit of explaining. You see, every morning when I get ready for work, I try to take the time to make myself some breakfast and brew a cup of coffee. I love making coffee at home and I love taking the time to read the news on my phone or computer while I munch on a couple of eggs and some toast. However, the reality is that there are often days that I just don't have the time. Wait- let me amend that. I have the time, but I waste it by either hitting the snooze button one too many times, or zoning out in the shower for an extra 5 minutes or trying on six different outfits before finally deciding on one. My point is this: there are lots of days that I find myself at the drive-thru ordering a fast-food breakfast. I tend to do this more in the summer since I prefer iced coffee at this time of year. However, that's just a shallow excuse for my near daily trips to the coffee shop near my house.

Ultimately, these morning stops are done primarily out of convenience and have hardly anything to do with getting a healthy or even tasty breakfast and coffee. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that not only is it an unhealthy choice, the particular establishment that I frequent day after day is terrible at what they do. The coffee is incredibly inconsistent in terms of the brew strength, and even worse when it comes to making it my way. "Cream and two Splenda" seems pretty straightforward if you ask me. However, from one day to the next, I never know if my iced coffee is going to be abrasively bitter or sickeningly sweet. Usually, I make the mistake of tasting it AFTER I've driven away. And the food is just as bad. If- yes IF- they get the order correct, it rarely tastes the same from one day to the next. My breakfast item of choice is a small "wrap" with egg and melted cheese. Sometimes the cheese is crispy and brown. Other times it's around room temperature. Once, I ordered one of these breakfast wraps and when I was a few miles down the road, I reached into the paper bag and instead of a warm mini breakfast sandwich, I found a package of cream cheese and a plastic knife. No bagel or anything, just cream cheese and a knife.

Of course, I rarely complain about all these irritating mistakes and service issues. After all, it's not as though I'm choosing to purchase my coffee and breakfast from a high-end espresso lounge or anything. The people preparing my coffee and breakfast are likely earning minimum wage or a few pennies more, so I can hardly expect them to care a great deal about getting my order consistent or even correct. In fact, I can hardly expect them to be all that literate, as evidenced by the sign at the drive-thru currently:

This sign has been out for over a month. When I first saw it, I brought the mistake to the attention of the person at the drive-thru window. I informed her of the grammatical error and even may have said something along the lines of, "It's embarrassing." And yet it remains. 

I realized one morning as I sipped my terrible coffee and munched on my under-cooked egg and cheese wrap that the way I treat my morning breakfast experience is the way so many people approach shopping. I realized that a lot of women and men go about the experience with low expectations, rarely achieving satisfaction or success and yet they don't change their approach or the type of store they frequent or much of anything, really. And that is how so many people end up looking far less than their best. 

If I truly want to do what is best for myself for breakfast, I will get up ten minutes earlier, avoid dilly-dallying in the shower, plan my outfit the night before and then I will have time for a proper breakfast with eggs cooked the way I like and coffee brewed to perfection. I shop with my best interest in mind- I go to the stores that offer the highest quality I can afford, with excellent customer service and I purchase items that fit well and flatter my body. I also carefully select items based on what I need in my closet as opposed to more of the same old thing. 

I know lots of people who go shopping at the lowest price point available, where customer service is non-existent and the quality of the clothing is poor in terms of both construction and fit. And yet they wonder why they struggle looking good every day and why their clothes fall apart after a few washes. It's the same as me expecting the local coffee establishment to brew a perfect espresso and bake an impeccable croissant from scratch every day. It's just never going to happen. Don't misunderstand me- I'm not suggesting we all stop bargain-hunting. I still believe in a good deal. But I also believe in purchasing quality products and in trusting the experts to help you fill your closet with the best pieces possible. 

The long and short of it is this: if you want a decent cup of coffee, you need quality beans and someone who knows how to draw the best flavor out of them. If you want a great outfit, you need clothes that are made well and an expert eye to pull the right pieces together in the most flattering and stylish manner possible. So the next time you are going shopping, keep that in mind. And order the cappuccino. 


Beth said...

What a thoughtful, apt metaphor. I often set out to buy quality clothing and try to mentally prepare myself for paying more, but then I cheap out at the last minute. It's a matter of finding prices that aren't the cheapest of the cheap, but that seem appropriate to the quality you're looking for.

Renée T. Bouchard said...

Thanks, Beth- I agree. You have to find the highest quality for what you can spend and you have to put in the effort to find it- it won't be at the most convenient location around the corner from your house. At least, it's not likely to be there.

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