A few years ago I had finished a stint of a couple months on an Arctic oil exploration program and I had decided to go to Vegas to feel some heat and blow off some steam. My accounts were full and my liver was empty so while still a little out of sorts from my time on the Beaufort I hustled Jane and myself onto a plane and headed south. After long stretches in isolated areas, I can be a little out of sorts for awhile.
At the end of a long day travelling the strip, I was tired and more than a little tipsy. Still, I decided to wind down the evening at my hotel through feeding the slots some more cash for awhile. Now, I can be a terrible procrastinator in many ways. In this case, my problem was an overstuffed wallet that was literally falling apart at the seams. Those who remember the old Seinfeld episode with George Costanza’s wallet know what I am talking about. Well in reaching into my wallet to get another bill to fire into that infernal gambling machine, I slipped and my wallet along with all of it’s contents spilled all over the floor. On my hands and knees I had to scramble to round up my ID, credit cards and such as people walked upon my scattered documents. It was a tough job as for some reason my eyes were seeing double.
Then and there I vowed that my procrastination has come to an end! I swore that I would not rest that night until I had a new wallet and I would buy one at the first store that carried them! Well dear reader, in the Bellagio there simply are not many cost conscious stores carrying wallets. True to my word I found a shop however. It was the Gucci store.
To complicate things, none of the wallets on display had prices attached to them. “No matter.” I thought to myself. I am getting a new wallet no matter what anyway. I found an appropriate bifold and had the clerk take it to the register for me. I was asked if I wanted it gift wrapped. I said no I could use it right now.
I was then asked to pay $360! To make it worse, the American dollar was still worth somewhat more than ours at the time.
My inebriated pride would not allow me to back down so I shelled out the cash, pocketed the wallet and went off to seek another drink in hopes of numbing the effect of my idiotic purchase.
Below is a shot of the now worn but still distinctly Gucci wallet. I still carry it with me every day.
Now there is more to this story than simply pointing out an incident of impulsive purchasing idiocy on my part. The wallet has actually paid for itself in the funds it has saved me.
You see, I am prone to some impulsive moves at times and often it involves spending money. Now, every time I want to spend money on anything, I have to pull out my wallet. The shining telltale letter G stares out at me every time and forces me to ask myself if what I am buying is really a good idea. It is astounding how many things can be deferred with just a moment of second thought. Had I bought shoes or a belt I would not have that constant reminder. With a wallet there is no choice. I must be reminded of my stupid purchase every time I spend more money.
Now this concept can be utilized by our elected officials. I propose that we get a 15×20 foot blowup made of the picture below and have it hanging in city hall facing our council.
Yes. Before every spending notion and decision I think every council member including our Mayor must stare at that picture for a minute. Every council member should have a constant reminder of what happens when they vote for ill conceived vanity projects. Nothing displays that more than the hideous, budget-blown, year behind schedule, sole sourced “Peace Bridge” that is now polluting our landscape with it’s Chinese finger-trap appearance. The only thing uglier in our downtown right now is that camp of squatters in Olympic Plaza (you knew I had to at least mention them once).
The picture should make them ask themselves what they did not when they approved that ugly thing in the first place. Do we need this? Can we afford this? Is this the best deal for this? Should we put this to tender?
This idea can be effective for all levels of government.
The MagCan plant that cost Alberta taxpayers hundreds of millions which is now falling apart near High River should be pictured and displayed prominently in the legislature chambers as a reminder of idiotic spending.
The above picture of the duel-colored and profound “Voice of Fire” that our federal government purchased for $1.8 million dollars should hang in the house of commons for all to enjoy and to remind them of what foolishness they are capable of.
Like government, I can be prone to foolish spending decisions. Unlike government, I only am spending my own money. If I can learn to improve my spending through simple reminders of my past mistakes, I don’t see why legislators can’t too.