Scenario: You are heading to London to spend the afternoon with some friends. On arrival at the train station, you are met with a huge queue and a distinct lack of time to buy your ticket and get on the right train. After what seems like an age, you make it to the front and ask for a return to Euston. You are shocked when the ticket lady presents you with your options:
Option A: Off peak return and underground travel card for £31. Your return must be before 16:13 (too early) or after 19:00 (not practical for being picked up from the station at the end of the day and might not fit in with your friends’ plans).
Option B: Open ended return and underground travel card for £59.60. Flexibility – yes, price – NO.
The queue behind you has grown, the ticket lady is impatient and you wonder if you can hear your train pulling into the station. You have approximately 3 seconds to decide what to do. Which option do you go for?
I opted for B.
When I told my friend about this over lunch, her jaw dropped to the floor and that is when I realised that it had perhaps been a dodgy choice. I was a tad embarrassed but at the same time refused to accept that this was my fault. A capacity for making such questionable financial decisions is ingrained in my genes. I could draw on many a tale to prove my point. Here is just one:
One year, for some reason, I thought that having mice for my birthday present was a good idea. Perhaps because they’d be, you know, kind of… well I suppose, a bit… interesting? In hindsight, I think I preferred the idea of owning mice rather than the reality. It would be cool. I would be cool. I’d be like that Spinelli kid on Recess. She was cool. The parents were vehemently against the idea but eventually succumbed to my incredible powers of persuasion. However, as we arrived at the garden centre, it all became a bit too real and my confidence in the idea started to wane. I didn’t let on though. I’d done A LOT of persuasive groundwork to get to this stage so I felt a need to remain committed to the plan.
In Pet Corner, the effort to hide my concern was ramped up when I locked eyes on the vermin for the first time. They were scrabbling and scratching around in their tanks and couldn’t have looked less pet-like had they tried. I realised that I actually really didn’t want mice but also didn’t want to lose face and admit I’d been wrong in the numerous, lengthy and heated negotiations with the parents to get to this point. The pressure to commit had become intense so when the shop assistant took off the tank lid and half of the crazed bastards escaped, I couldn’t have been more grateful; this was my get out clause! It was a bad idea to buy mice because if they escaped nobody else would be able to cope. We swiftly exited the shop and nothing more was said.
The parents were quietly smug and annoyingly chirrupy getting into the car. I bit my tongue. I must say, I can now sympathise with their point of view; if I’d not long ago had to lay down mice traps to catch a rodent who’d decided to take up home behind the piano, I probably wouldn’t have been willing to spend money on buying another. So then, high on the relief that they were relieved of the mice burden (let’s be honest, I would have lost interest after a day and never cleaned them out), the parents went AWOL and made one hell of an impulse purchase – they bought a car. A CAR.
I therefore shift the blame for today’s poor financial decision making onto them. The buck stops with my genes.