I grew up with an 7-years older brother who loved electronics, most notably home theater stuff. When he was in college, he would come back with an awesome a/v receiver, a cd player from a brand that I’ve never heard of, a hi-fi cassette tape deck, and the newest high quality VCR player (hey this was the early 90′s!). I would brag to all my friends that I could watch the latest and greatest movies with window-rattling volume. Looking back at it now, I can see that my brother probably racked up tons of credit card debt in his acquisition of now-vintage-in-a-non-ironic-way electronics.
Of course, back then (and let’s be honest, even now) I really looked up to my brother. So naturally, his hobby of collecting electronics was passed on to me. Back then, it was fun to receive electronics catalogs in the mail to ogle over the newest and greatest things to buy. Now days, it’s as easy as heading over to Richer Sounds and clicking around to see what’s out right now. It has become too easy to impulsively buy whatever electronics can fit on my credit card.
When I got to college and then got my first credit card, I desperately wanted to build a my own home theater system. I never wanted to be a luddite in the dark ages. It didn’t matter that I already had a more-than-adequate stereo system. It wasn’t good enough.
It started with a DVD player. I remember sneaking into my roommate’s room on winter break and using his computer (I didn’t have one at the time) to shop online. The DVD player was a little over $100, which at the time wasn’t much, but probably ended up costing me much more in interest. After I made the purchase I got the email saying my order was processing.
After obsessively checking my email, I finally received the tracking information for the shipment. I think that it was the first package that I’d ever had delivered to myself. The anticipation was intense – it seemed as if I wore out the F5 (that’s refresh for all you non-keyboard shortcut using savages) on many computers waiting for the status to change.
On the morning of the delivery, I made it a point to keep a keen ear to the door. What I didn’t anticipate was how boring it is to wait for a package to arrive…you know, something about a watched pot and boiling water. I naturally fell asleep and missed the delivery! All I had to show for my waiting was a stupid slip that said that the delivery would be retried the next day.
I didn’t think that was good enough. Naturally, the next course of action was to get in my car, and chase down any UPS truck that I could spot. Wow, thinking back on that, I must have seemed crazy. When I finally found a guy, he told me that it’s their policy to not give out packages to people who come up to them on their route. It’s probably to protect themselves against crazy people like me. I was disappointed.
In the end, I did get the delivery the next day and all was good. That started a downward spiral of more electronics purchases, which over the years included a receiver, subwoofer, speakers, VCR, and TVs. Eventually the chase for electronics waned and I moved on to other things and I learned how to fix some of the stuff that I already had when it broke. Some of those things still provide me with entertainment – my receiver, subwoofer, and speakers are still going strong after 10 years. But I wonder how much time and money I could have saved if I never caught the electronics bug.