Wednesday, June 18, 2014

By the Numbers (or, Am I a Robot?)

I am beginning to understand how people are sometimes seen as numbers (rather than people) to employers, governments, etc.  What I am about to say probably seems horrible (of me), but I am feeling more emotion over selling our Honda CR-V than I am over saying goodbye to the household staff we employed in Addis Ababa.

It seems justifiable to me: the car served us longer and better.  It was much more reliable than our staff, and never disappointed or infuriated us.  The only times it underperformed were when it had a punctured tire, but those problems were easily addressed and set to proper operation.  The same cannot be said of our staff.  They underperformed regularly and never seemed to improve despite us attempting frequent "repairs."  Furthermore, they destroyed significantly more (of our things) than reasonable expectation would allow.  I suppose you could say the car destroyed fossil fuels and left its own carbon footprint, but it didn't outright leave us with less than we started with.

Finally, perhaps the most significant factor: cost.  The cost of using our CR-V for 4 years?  Zero.  (Well, fuel and maintenance had costs, but those are to be expected -- my point is we got all the money we paid for the car back when we sold it.)  The cost of employing our household staff for 22 months?  Close to the purchase price of the car.

As I've felt for a long time: you get what you pay for.

On a vaguely-related note, do you know what is the best thing I ever bought?  No, not my Waterford Crystal Death Star.  No, not the Spice Girls concert tickets.  Okay, maybe it's the third best thing: an uninterruptible power source (UPS) for the DSL modem and wireless router (and to a lesser extent, the TV and disc player).  Now that the UPS has been packed up to be shipped to Bangkok, it's really noticeable now when the power goes out.  The generator still kicks on, but that momentary switch-over is enough to shut down the TV/player and force the modem and router to reboot.

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