Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The Bitterness of the Over-privileged Consumer

Isn't it crazy how the little things can get you? (And yes, this applies to my Kinder egg post, too.) Friends may know that I am an eBay addict. Well, not an addict, because I can quit at any time... okay, I'm an addict. The fact that I'm able to lull the addiction into a state of dormancy does not mean that it is gone. It is just waiting patiently, hunkered down like a cat about to spring... for THE HOLIDAYS!

Look, it's just a fact: if you live in a high-cost city and you want to buy some unusual gifts, the cheapest way to do it is through eBay. Those 1980 Burger King glasses with the Empire Strikes Back decals on them you want? $15-$20 each at Mr. Pink. You can get the set of four for that on eBay. And you're not gonna find good stuff at stoop sales or on the curb anymore, because the city (and particularly my neighbourhood) has developed a rash of "antique" and "vintage" stores where they collect that stuff and sell it at ungodly prices. Sure eBay's a gamble, but I've rarely encountered bad service. And trust me, if you or someone you love as unusual or specific tastes and you don't have a lot of dough, it's the only place to find it, without renting a truck and driving to some hillbilly flea markets.

Meanwhile, friends may also know that I have a peculiar obsession with giving the perfect gifts. I love to give presents, but I also approach it with an obsessive-compulsive approach that gets a bit scary. I have to find out just what would be the absolute best, most personal, jaw-dropping how-did-you-know gifts I can get... at a reasonable price. Sometimes I go beyond a reasonable price for just the right gift, but this time... this time I didn't. And this is why it's burning me up.

See, I like to give my beloved M something special. Over a year - maybe two, ago - I started on a quest to find the most beautiful authentic Japanese kimono in exactly her favourite colours that I could. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a vintage kimono in purple, red, orange and yellow? These are not the traditional colour schemes. Yet I managed to find it - on eBay, of course - a gorgeous purple kimono with delicate tree branches dotted with new plum blossoms and the odd butterfly spreading up the back and around the sides. I was in heaven. Until I lost the bidding when it got too expensive.

Fortunately, over a year later, I was able to find another kimono - this time a more recent vintage one in bright purple with white, yellow, orange and red-feathered phoenixes arcing up from the bottom - for an affordable price. I was so excited that I gave it to her as her birthday present over 3 months early (hey, where am I gonna hide a full-length kimono without setting wrinkles in it, anyway?). And she loved it. Mission accomplished! But not without a year of clenched teeth and stomach burning every time I thought about "the one that got away..."

Now it's almost Christmas, and already I'm on a tear bidding for the EXACT RIGHT ornaments and accoutrements for our first one spent in our own place. So, of course I'm going to look for the EXACT RIGHT present for M on eBay, too, right? And I found it. And lo, it was cheap! And I bid. And I lost it. Again.

What particularly galls me about this incident is that I could have gotten it. See, I was supposed to be at home, but I stayed late at work doing some other work and watching the auctions. But M called me all annoyed that I was coming home late again, so I decided I'd better leave fast. I could probably make it home before the auction ended, but I just wasn't sure, especially since I knew she'd be offended if I dashed in the door and straight to the computer. So, I signed up for a free trial of a sniper service. What's that, you ask? Simple: it's a service that automatically follows the auctions you're interested in, and then bids on them in the last possible seconds so you're more likely to win at a good cost. Sounds great, huh?

But I blew it. Because I didn't take the time to read the instructions thoroughly, I didn't realize that sometimes bids sent just a few seconds before the end of an auction can get tied up in other traffic, and miss the deadline. So, I didn't bid before I left, and I set my bid time to 4 seconds before the end. Which means I probably lost it by maybe a couple seconds, at most. AAARGH!

And did I mention that it was perfect? And I've never seen anything quite like it, and probably never will again?

And no, I'm not telling you what it was. M might read this, and I still have hopes to someday find her something... almost as good.

So, there you have it. I know it's ridiculous to get so het up about such little things, when there's world hunger and war and the Bush administration going on, but sometimes it's the little things that get ya, you know? Feh.

Oh, and the sniper service win another auction I signed up for, so now I know it works. If you'd like to try it out, check out the Auction Sniper site, and make sure you sign up referring to my email ( Hey, the battle is over, but my eBay campaign will go on...

No comments: