Need vs. Want

11 04 2013

My 1965 Webster’s dictionary, to which I refer when I want a more traditional definition of a word rather than the watered-down definitions one finds in more modern dictionaries, defines need as “a lack of something requisite, desirable, or useful.”

Yesterday we received a quote from a contractor. We need a water line run for the LG Combination Washer/Dryer that we’re purchasing. We currently haul our laundry down to the local laundromat, something I haven’t done in twenty years and which I wouldn’t have conceived of doing just a few years ago. I wouldn’t even rent an apartment when I moved to Las Vegas if it didn’t come equipped with this necessity. I was too old for lugging laundry. I was beyond this college-day’s activity. Yet here we are, in our late 40’s, having purchased a house with no laundry room, space, or closet. We need it.

We also have an electric range with one oven. Having been raised on gas ovens, the act of cooking well on electric still eludes me, even after being stuck with electric for years at my various abodes. At least the rest were self-cleaning; this archaic model has the four requisite burners and two racks in the single-oven and no broiler pan. We need a five-burner, double-oven range with the ability to “cook multiple dishes at the same time at different temperatures”, one of them being a convection to “circulate air in the lower oven for consistent temperatures and uniform browning”. This, of course, means running gas to the location of the out-of-date, wholly inadequate range that currently sits in the kitchen.

Our third need is a tankless water heater to replace the minuscule, 30-gallon, wholly inadequate water heater taking up space underneath a cabinet in the kitchen. This appliance is so insufficient that I can’t wash my hair and shave my legs during the same shower; Snarky can’t take a bath in more than 3 or 4 inches of water which does absolutely nothing for someone trying to soak after a hard day’s work.

Last but not least, our fourth need is electricity: additional outlets in the sun room and run to the shop for Snarky to run his power tools and to give us room to plug in the freezer that will store all that meat we’re going to have.

Please note that these are household needs and pale in comparison to the needs of the farm (fencing, plowing, animals, etc.) that need to be obtained.

With all these needs in tow we called a local plumber/electrician/gas guy. “Barry is his name but he’s called ‘Blue'”, our friendly real estate agent told us over breakfast the other morning. Van had taken Snarky out turkey hunting at daylight and then subjected himself to my electric stove-top cooking. “As in blueberry”. Ahhh, local humor.

Blue told us he’d be by either before noon or after; he showed up at 2:30, clipboard in hand and Pall Mall’s in his shirt pocket. After explaining all our needs and showing him the appliances with which we were filling our “requisites”, he provided us an estimate.

In my experience, estimates are provided with a breakdown, an itemization of labor and parts so that one knows for what one is paying. Not so in the case of the blueberry. We received a paragraph describing the fulfillment of our needs. Our needs had a requisite $2,760 price tag.

While we may be able to “afford” this, some re-evaluation was…needed. We certainly don’t want to be known as those newcomers with more money than sense. Hell, we’re already talked about down at the post office as, “the new people on the hill who get the most packages.” Yes, that’s what our postal driver told me the other day. My response was, “And I don’t pay taxes or shipping or make a trip to town, so there will be more.”

After getting over the sticker shock and some discussion, two of our needs became wants. There will be no electricity in the shop; an extension cord run from the house will suffice and we’ll find freezer space. There will be no five-burner, double-oven gas range with the ability to cook multiple dishes at the same time at different temperatures; over-cooked, sometimes burned meals will have to suffice.

And with that, another lesson in truly going Galt has been learned, and $1,000 has been saved after the revised estimate.

But I still really want a double-oven gas range…

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