7 Thoughts From The Weekend

1. No matter how much the little sign made by the owner gushes, there’s a reason why a liter of “Duggan’s Dew” blended scotch whiskey is only $15.95.

2. I don’t know whether it was the 95 degree heat or the recession but our tag sale was quite the buyer’s market. It didn’t matter that our starting prices were reasonable, everyone wanted to haggle. We had to inflate our prices to compensate for inevitable downdraft. Even a new $59 dress with the pricetag still on it, someone was like, “I’ll give you $2 for it.”

3. I was so impressed with Lowes. When we walked in the door, there were two pallet-loads of air conditioners right by the entrance. As I heard another customer to say, “When does that ever happen?” I was expecting that by the time we got there there would have only one sitting alone on a shelf. Then a floor associate undid all Lowe’s good. When when I asked him which model was the quietest, “Well, they’re all gonna make noise,” was all he had to say. Gee, no kidding, thanks for the insight.

4. This girl’s clothing store called Flirt had Polaroids of actual women wearing the shirts so you can see how the shirt look on a person in real life. Neat.

5. I met a guy who recently moved here from Niger. He said he expected Americans to be a lot richer.

6. If you don’t feel like lugging everything to the changing room, you can quickly see if a pair of jeans will fit you by wrapping half the waist part around your neck. If you can bring the two ends together without trouble, they’ll fit you.

7. MindManager is an awesome mind-mapping program. I’m going to use it to write all my big articles and powerpoint presentations from now on.

(Photo: Ben Popken)


Edit Your Comment

  1. xirian says:

    You can’t really expect them to know which is quietest, do you think they take everyone out to a special room and plug in all the a/cs and listen to them?

  2. BlondeGrlz says:

    So you must really hate trying on clothes.
    All the garage sales I went to sucked. People have either already sold all the good stuff or really think there’s a large market for dirty toys and broken electronics.

  3. mitchelwb says:

    So let me get this straight. The guy at Lowe’s let you down because he didn’t know which AC was quieter… like xirian said, I’m sure that they don’t open them all at every store and have a team meeting around them to discuss all their strengths and weaknesses… Next weeks team meeting.. HOT WATER HEATERS!

    But then you went to a clothing store that suggested you wrap a pair of jeans around your neck to see if they’ll fit your butt and that excited you?

    Just how much scotch did you have?

  4. freepistol says:

    i dont know about anyone else, but … my neck is not nearly as big as my waist.

    maybe my waist should be as small as my neck ?

  5. smallestmills says:

    Hold the pants like you’re getting ready to put them on a hanger, then wrap the half of the pants around your neck. Get out a measuring tape if you don’t believe me, but your neck size is 1/2 your waist size. I use this when I’m too lazy to try something on (which is always.) Just remember to give it an inch or too if you have hips.

  6. smallestmills says:


    whoops, an inch or TWO

  7. mike says:

    Let’s give Ben some credit here: Lowe’s, like most chains, have driving good working folk out of the retail market and replaced them with summer teenagers who probably have never swung a hammer let alone know how a A/C actually works.

    Lowe’s and others need people who know their stuff…or at least know how to pretent to know their stuff.

  8. Juggernaut says:

    6b. If they don’t fit you can tie one leg around your neck and throw the other over the nearest pipe…

  9. mike says:

    @freepistol: For the challenged, wrap the waist around your neck means half the length of the waist, not the entire length of the waist.

    Good try though.

  10. jchabotte says:

    You know how i fit pants?

    Look at the size tag. if it’s the same size as what i’m wearing, and the ones i’m wearing are comfy, i buy them

    (haven’t been let down yet!)

  11. MayorBee says:

    @linus: So it’s better if the Lowe’s guy had said “This one is the quietest” without actually knowing which was the quietest rather than honestly (albeit tactlessly) saying “They’re all gonna make noise”? I agree, he didn’t handle it in the best way, but it was better than telling a lie.

  12. Juliekins says:

    The guys selling the damn AC units ought to know the dB ratings on them. Even if all they do is read over the spec sheets from the manufacturers, I don’t think that’s unreasonable. Hell, if all they do is hand Ben a pile of spec sheets, that’s more helpful than “hurrr they all make noise hurrr.”

    I’m not just making shit up, either. Read this:

    All air conditioners are noisy, but some are louder than others. Manufacturers usually publish the decibel ratings of units on their websites and product sheets, so you may want to look up these figures and consider placement of the unit.

  13. skittlbrau says:

    In defense of the Lowe’s guy, perhaps he’s tired of people coming back saying “This air conditioner makes noise OMG!”

    Besides, shouldn’t you nuy an air ocnditioner based upon the BTUs and size of the room you’re trying to cool?

  14. chrisjames says:

    @mitchelwb: Some stores actually have people that know about the products they are selling. You wouldn’t think chains would, but that’s dependent on the store. That’s one of the reasons big box retailers have departments. And, I bet those stores that do have “hot water heater training” are receiving more repeat business than others.

    If you think about it, how useful is a floor associate that doesn’t know much about what they are selling?

  15. sidkid88 says:

    I havent bought an air conditioner in a while but don’t they usually have the sound levels printed on the box?

  16. Since when does Larry King write for Consumerist?

    Seriously though, that’s amazing that Lowe’s had that many air conditioners. I remember my first summer living alone, I was of course one of the ten million people walking around Wal-Mart the first hot day wondering why they didn’t have any AC units. Live and learn.

  17. Bladefist says:

    There is no recession! We had another quarter with increased economic growth!

  18. DeepFriar says:

    #1 – the secret is in the word “blended”

  19. Asvetic says:

    Every summer there’s usually a pallet or 2 of AC’s at Lowe’s and HD. It’s quite common.

  20. Bladefist says:

    @chrisjames: Yea it’s hit and miss. I notice that usually every home depot/lowes has atleast 1 good plumbing expert, and 1 good electrical expert. And those are the 2 busiest people in the store.

  21. freshyill says:

    @FitJulie: Yeah, I don’t really think anybody working at Lowe’s gives enough of a shit to go home and research the batch of ac units they probably just got in. Frankly I can’t blame them.

  22. Juliekins says:

    @freshyill: Whatever. I’m sure not going to blame Ben. He’s the consumer, here. The store has a responsibility to make that kind of information available, even if it’s just a box of pamphlets stuck to the display.

  23. Cyco says:

    @jchabotte: I evny you. There has been a couple of times I have bought pants that was the same size I normally wear and when I got home, they didn’t fit right. I try them all on now cause you never know how they will fit or if they will even look good on you.

  24. CaptZ says:

    The one about the pants I never knew…..of course I just read the tag and if it’s the size I have worn for the last 20 years, I buy them. I have never been let down yet either.

    Of course woman’s pants are different sizes depending on the brand and alot of “other” factors depending on the woman and the “look” they are trying to get from the pants…..

  25. UnicornMaster says:

    First of all, a 33/34 pair of jeans in one brand does not fit the same as another. Secondly, who wears their jeans around their waist? They’re worn around your hips unless you are Pee Wee Herman.

    I can’t wait to go to H&M and see all these dudes holding jeans like bibs around their necks. That would be too awesome.

  26. Propaniac says:

    @linus: How is anyone supposed to know, if they haven’t heard of this trick before, that “the waist” means “the waist folded over”? I mean, it makes sense once that’s explained, but I don’t think you need to be condescending about it.

  27. magic8ball says:

    Maybe I’m buying the wrong kind of pants, but I’ve been shopping and tried on two or more pairs of the same-size, same-brand jeans and had them each fit me differently. I’m thinking the wrap-around-your-neck thing is a good heuristic, but can’t substitute for putting the actual pants on my actual butt.

  28. dj-anakin says:

    @xirian: They *should* all have noise ratings on them.

  29. *guesses those who can buy pants by tag size are boys.*

    I am currently wearing three different sizes of pants (not all at once :P ) and an entirely separate skirt size (that is the size of none of the pants). I generally have to bring in at least two sizes of every pant I want to try on. I realize that my body shape is “hard to fit” by current standards (I do awesome in 1950s off-the-rack sizes!), but it’s the same for many women.

    When I shop for my husband, however, I can just buy by numbers.

  30. cloudedice says:

    I’m a guy and I can’t always buy by the numbers. Sometimes I’m a 38′ waist, sometimes I’m 36′. All of the jeans I have now are 36′, but I’ve put on a few 36′ that were too tight. Khaki’s are a mixed bag between the two sizes. I seem to be a consistent 38′ in dress pants. Length is different too. I just don’t understand how this can be if everything is measure by a specific distance.

  31. CaptZ says:

    @cloudedice: Maybe since most pants are not made in the US, other countries all have a different scale of measurement. Or they are just stupid. Take your pick.

    I agree, there should be standardization in sizes, but woman will always have the same problem for the most part. Their bodies seem to morph into different shapes depending on the day of the week, week of the month, attitude, and mood swing……

    ****Just Kidding****

  32. JasonKeiderling says:

    To anyone who hasn’t worked in sales:
    Customers don’t have their IQs stamped on their foreheads, and most people are complete idiots. All the Air Conditioners make noise is invaluable info to most consumers who would be asking a Lowes associate for assistance in picking one out. So would the statements “they all use electricity”, “they will all cool the air a little”, “some will cool more space than others”, and “they go in your window”.

  33. The quiestest AC unit?

    Oh Good Grief. Expecting a marginal wage clerk to memorize the technical data of products….. as if the manufacturer publishes the correct information.

  34. bonzombiekitty says:

    @skittlbrau = baa: I wouldn’t doubt it. This is probably the conversation that actually happens:

    Customer: What is the quietest air conditioner?
    Employee: I’m not 100% sure, but I know this one is pretty quiet, at least quieter than these ones here.

    How the conversation takes place in a customer’s head:

    Customer: Which of these air conditioners makes absolutely no noise whatsoever?
    Employee: Oh this one here is completely silent. It will never even make a peep. You won’t even notice it’s there. In fact if it does make even the slightest noise, feel free to come back here and berate me for forty five minutes.

  35. MikeGrenade says:

    Then there’s the fact he only probably received about two hours’ worth of training, enough to run a register, and any further research would have to be done of his own accord for no increase in pay.

    Would you memorize manufacturer specs on an entire department’s inventory just to continue making $6.75/hr?

  36. mycroft2000 says:

    At all the yard sales I’ve had, I’ve put up a sign saying “No Haggling!” I just can’t stand it. If I’m charging 50 cents for something and somebody offers a quarter for it, I feel like kicking them in the face. On the other hand, I find it oddly satisfying when people actually get angry at me because I refuse to lower a price. Am I strange?

  37. bobfromboston says:

    @mycroft2000: Agreed. I tried being more than reasonable with my pricing so things would sell quickly. But most of these buyers feel the need to be able to tell friends what a great deal they got by haggling. So you mark it up, take the lower offer and let them walk away feeling like they won.

  38. squablow says:

    @mycroft2000: You would hate my guts. Most of the fun of a yard sale (for a buyer, at least) is to see how cheap you can get something. A lot of swap meet sellers are like you too, they hate to haggle.

    Personally I’d rather drop a buck off the price to close the sale. Why the animosity?

  39. Life_Sandwich says:



  40. nsv says:

    My experience:

    1) Just because a sales associate is in a particular area of the store, don’t assume that’s their department. If no one is working in air conditioners, customers will go to the next department (or across the store) to get someone to help load one of these boxes. So the millwork associate is now in air conditioners. That doesn’t make them an expert. And now they’ve got to walk through three other departments to get back to their own. That doesn’t make them an expert in the other three departments, either.

    2) It’s much easier to learn the specs of an item which is sold year round than it is to learn the specs of an item which will sell until this shipment is gone. That doesn’t mean it’s right. It does mean that it’s practical.

    3) When a customer would return and tell me about an item in my department that they’ve purchased, I’d remember it and pass it along to other who would ask. I’d make it clear that it was one customer’s opinion. For as often as it happened (and how often do you rush back to the store to tell them you loved the air conditioner?) I’d still get the occasional customer who would say “NSV promised this was the quietest air conditioner!” No good deed goes unpunished.

    4) The associate handled it badly, but gave accurate information and didn’t lie.

    5) I watched Home Depot screw with part-timers’ schedules. Sometimes these folks would go for weeks without getting any hours. If they haven’t worked since space heaters were sold, how do you expect them to know the specs on the air conditioners?

  41. Ubik2501 says:

    #6 is extremely useful for thrift store shopping.

  42. clank-o-tron says:

    @Propaniac: If you took a moment to picture the scene in your head, it might make a bit more sense. After all, without the waist folded over you’d have to put the pants completely over your head which, although hilarious, is not conducive to a quick shopping experience.

  43. AcidReign says:

        That neck thing definitely isn’t going to work for me. I still can get into 30 inch waist pants, but I can’t button the top button on a dress shirt less than 17.5 in the neck.

  44. LostAngeles says:

    re: cheap scotch

    At a pub back east, I figured I’d finish up the night with a scotch. I gave my friend a $10 since he was heading up to the bar. He brought me back a scotch and $6.50. I asked if he tipped. He said he did, but not out of my money.

    That night, I learned what it was to be despised by God.

    Some years later, I had the pleasure of a 17 year-old scotch at the Westin Bonaventure in Downtown L.A. so I’ve been redeemed.

  45. agit says:

    On the pants note……

    I had 3 pairs of the Dickies Iron Tough jeans, that were all size 32/32.

    They stopped making that style and replaced them with the Stay Dark jean (which Dickies claims is identical except for the addition of a cell phone pocket on the right leg), which I have to order over the net since it seems like there is nowhere to buy them in Portland.

    I ordered 2 pairs that were the same size 32/32, both of the 32 inch length Stay Darks were 1-2″ longer than the Iron Toughs. On top of that they were both the same color/style and 1 pair feels like it is about 1″ larger than the other.

    Fearing the same result, I ordered 4 more pairs about 4 months later. 2x Blue & 2x Black. 1 of the black and blue pairs can be removed w/o unbuttoning/unzipping, and the other 2 pairs fit fine except once again, they seem like they are like a 33-34 inch inseam instead of 32…..

    I really wish there was somwhere local I could buy them so I could actually *try them on*. Granted they are only 23$ per pair but still….. WTH? how can 4 pairs that are ALL the same size have so much difference?

    P.S. I’m a dude.

  46. agit says:

    I had 3 pairs of the Dickies Iron Tough jeans, that were all size 32/32.

    Forgot to mention that they fit perfectly, best damn jeans I ever owned TBH. Figures that they would stop making them =D