only customer in a Radio Shack
Thursday, April 27 2006
Gasoline was about $3.10/gallon the last time I checked, though it's probably higher than that now. It's convenient, then, that I do the vast bulk of my work entirely from home. There are still a few holdout housecall customers, and unfortunately the most persistent of these lives all the way down in Highland, 30 miles to the south on my side of the Hudson from Poughkeepsie. I cheerfully go despite the resentment I feel, and I always take the opportunity to get a burrito at the Taco Shack in New Paltz on the way home. Today I was feeling generous and gave the hippie working there a $1 tip. (I call him a hippie, but he was really just some college kid, one who probably budgets a certain amount of his income for marijuana but doesn't fulfill the complete stereotype package.)
Completely unhippielike was the man working in the nearby New Paltz Radio Shack, where I went to burn time while my burrito was being made. As with all Radio Shack employees, this one was smartly-dressed in slightly ill-fitting business attire. I'd sooner pick up highway trash outside of Baghdad than be forced to wear such an outfit as a requirement for earning the kind of salary a Radio Shack salesman enjoys. It's never fun being the only customer in a Radio Shack, and I had to tell the salesman twice that no I was just looking.
I'm always curious about Radio Shack's discontinued stuff, since that's always been the best stuff in the store. Radio Shack Rule #1 is that the stuff they're getting out of the business of selling is their most interesting. Back in the early 1980s when I was about 13 years old I bought a close-out programmable EC-4000 calculator there and thrilled for a few days to its 50 bytes of programming space. (The marvelous gizmo lasted less than a week before an experiment with its guts destroyed it.) The result of Rule #1 is that utility of Radio Shack is in a state of continual decline. Back in the day they used to stock a full line of (admittedly overpriced) integrated circuits but it's gotten to the point where you can't buy any semiconductor components there at all. I had a hope that they might still stock BASIC Stamp programming kits (they used to), but alas they've stopped and I missed out on the close-out sale.
Back at the house, I chipped out some concrete from the front stoop in another one of my small-scale stone-veneer edits. As I slathered in the new mortar and set stones, a woman came by to pick up our old refrigerator, the one that burns 750 kwh of electricity per year. It's been taking up room in our garage
ever since the peak of last autumn's energy jihad, when we replaced it with a 480 kwh/year model. We'd tried selling the old fridge as a slumlord special for $100 on Carl's List but in the end we had to give it away. The woman taking it was actually someone we know. Her connections at Bard College allowed her to borrow an enormous truck (complete with a human driver) to haul it away in. One man's jihad victim is another's baby Moses in the reeds.
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