Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Choice Overload (or how I became a man…)

Did you know Home Depot has an entire aisle of toilets? Twenty-something toilets to chose from. Why is this? It’s not like toilets come with different kinds of fancy options like heated seats or a Bose sound system. It’s a toilet, for dog’s sake. And looking at twenty of them side-by-side is an exercise in ridiculousness.

DG told me to pick one. I figured he had gone insane, driven over the edge by one too many trips to the Home Depot. My response: “Why are there so many to choose from? They’re all the same and I don’t care.”

DG shot me a look and said, “Now you know how I feel about shoes.”

Now, tempers and patience were running a little short on both sides – fifty trips to the Home Depot will do that to you – so I didn’t try to explain (again) that there really is a difference between my black knee boots with the square toe and chunky heel and my black knee books with the pointy toe and the skinny heel. For one brief moment, I think I understood what it was like to be a man out shopping. If a man has the same reaction to a row of black shoes that I have to a row of toilets…okay, I get it.

(Take note men: There is a difference between a slingback and a peep-toe and they aren’t simply interchangeable. I need both. A toilet is a toilet is a toilet and considering what you do with a toilet, what difference does it make as long as it works? I said I understood your problem, not that the two situations are the same. At all.)

The toilet situation is just one example of the hair-pulling I’m doing these days. Let’s say I want to get a new light fixture for the hallway. I go online to the site that claims “Thousands to choose from!,” enter a couple of parameters, and get it narrowed down to a whopping 750. After years of living with other people’s choices or whatever was cheapest, I was looking forward to picking out what I wanted for this house, so you’d think I’d be in high cotton.

Then I came up against 750 light fixtures, 400 faucet choices, a million shades of ‘blue,’ brushed nickel vs. oiled nickel, 75 choices of cabinet hardware... Cue PC, standing in the middle of Home Depot, staring at a row of identical toilets on the verge of tears.

I found out it has a name, though: Choice Overload.

We all know you can’t give small children too many choices, but it seems adults have a limit too. According to the research, when people are faced with too many choices, they’ll often decide to pick none of them because they simply can’t. If they do make a choice, they’ll often suffer buyer’s remorse almost immediately, because even though they looked through 500 before making a choice, there’s 500 more to choose from and there might be something better there.

It seems most people are happier when their choices are limited. They’re more likely to be satisfied with their choice. They’ll also make the decision more quickly and go on to other, more productive, uses of their time. Some folks will spend hours dithering back and forth, looking for the absolutely PERFECT thing, and still not be happy with the final choice. And to add to insult to injury, they’re not happy they spent so much time on it, either.

So toilet selection will probably fall to my plumber, because DG and I just don’t care as long as the toilets do what they’re supposed to do. I did choose a light fixture for the hallway from what Home Depot had in stock on the store floor. Do I like it? Yep. Will I be happy with it? Yep. Is there something out there someplace that might be even more perfect? Possibly. Am I willing to go look for it? Not just No, HELL NO. I have other stuff to do, and if I want to pull my hair out, I’ll try to decipher my royalty statement, thankyouverymuch.

So, does the thought of 750 similar light fixtures make your eyes cross? Or do you relish the endless possibilities and the joy of the hunt? (And no, DG, 750 pairs of black shoes on Zappos is NOT the same thing at all. It’s not.)


PS: Winners from last week TBR game! Jean (for Lynn’s Concubine) and runner10 and Virginia (for Anna Campbell’s Reckless Surrender). SP gets points for my book, but then loses them because that book came out in February… ~grin~ (Yes, some of my books are quite old, but my game, my rules…) Y’all email me at kimberly@booksbykimberly.com with a shipping address, and let me know if you’d like a book for your TBR pile or a small giftie instead.


Playground Monitor said...

Just ask Smarty Pants and Instigator what it was like to go sofa shopping with me. And there weren't 750 sofas to choose from! It's that possibility of buyer's remorse (though I have absolutely NO remorse for the moss green sofa they helped me pick out).

I remember building my second house. Oh. My. God! Do you know how many different kinds of door knobs there are? And how many phone jacks did I want? And where? And then there was paint and wall paper and carpet colors.

I feel your pain, though I do recommend a fast flush quick recovery toilet. Great for the environment.

LA said...

Ha-ha! I did the "throne review" at Home Depot last winter! But, I was very surprised at the other three couples standing there with me, staring at the row of toilets with the same slack-jaw look on their faces! But, a friend had given me some great advice: don't choose the cheapest OR the most expensive. So, then I used my hallmarks: water usage and flush power. Then the hardest part was loading it on the cart and into the car.

Jean said...

For home items, I pick a store and I pretend there are no choices outside that store. Neither of those stores is Home Depot or Lowe's. I simply cannot cope. I've been known to cry in Bet Buy. For light fixtures, I go to a dear little shop downtown. The owner buys antique fixtures and rewires them. He never has more than a couple of hundred. Narrow it down by size, color, and style and I have maybe twenty to choose form. If I don't line any of them I wait a few weeks and go back, during which time he's been looking for what I want. He knows I'll bring him homemade peanut brittle.

For toilets and such I go to Gobble-Fite, where they know my name and send me a bill in the mail. They will also mix my paint and offer me a Coke. Are they more expensive? Not that I can tell. And there's something to be said for service. When my solid surface sink cracked, I went in all set to pay the thousand dollars it was going to cost to replace it. Susan Fite said, "It hasn't been ten years since we put that sink in!" And it hadn't. She booted up her computer and in three seconds we knew it had been nine years and 49 weeks. Free replacement.

Maven Linda said...

This is an alien topic to me. Too many choices? Hard to make a decision? I don't understand those words; they must be a foreign language.

Toilets: definitely go with an assisted flush. If you don't, you'll end up flushing an average of three times per serious usage, which uses MORE water than the old so-called "inefficient" toilets which actually worked. You'll also become very good friends with your toilet plunger. I speak from experience. We replaced all of our low-water usage toilets within five years of building the house, because they simply didn't work very well -- and we used less water after we replaced them.

And don't fall for the "Energy Star" sales pitch. Turns out they were awarding an "Energy Star" to every manufacturer that requested one, without doing any verification.

Sherry Werth said...

Aaah...PC. Welcome to my world. We spend more time in home improvement stores than anyone can imagine. Right now Hubby's still focused on the outdoor kitchen so I'm safe from the toilet aisle for now. :-D Good luck!

Lynn Raye Harris said...

I call it Shopper Anxiety, and yes I get it all the time. Except with shoes. Funny, huh? (DG, she's right. Shush about the shoes.)

Jean, I know all those stores of which you speak! The lighting guy still has my Venetian chandelier because I need to get someone to install it. He's had it for two years at least. What a great place!

I do freak out with choice, but I'm not sure the toilets would faze me. I'd pick the elongated bowl, not the lowest water because, like Linda said, they don't always flush right. And I'd pick the toilet seat that closes itself (have one in the master bath and love it). That should narrow it some. :)

But yes, choice is the reason I still haven't replaced the chairs in my living room. I go into the store and have a meltdown. :/

Angel said...

I can remember, once upon a time, when you were excited about this. :) Funny how times change.

I never would have thought there was much difference in toilets either, except for height (I notice this because I'm only 5 foot tall, and I go into stores that have those tall toilets that are difficult for me and my children to use.). But then my husband started complaining about the toilet at our old house. Guess what? He's 6'4" and proportional, so a toilet with a smaller seat is uncomfortable for him to sit on. Our old house was one of those cookie cutter models with the cheapest of everything available, and they'd put in the smallest, cheapest toilet they could find in bulk.

I didn't notice, but he certainly did. So now I know, let HIM pick the toilet. :)


Instigator said...

Yeah, there is a reason I am alergic to home improvement projects. I have enough chaos in my day-to-day life...I do not need it when I shop for toilets.


robertsonreads said...

I'm the odd ball out. I enjoy shopping, whether for my home or me. I generally have an idea of what I want and don't settle. Recently I put a white comforter, bed skirt and shams on my bed. Need some toss pillows and found some very pretty ones to give it a pop of color at Target at a reasonable price.
Lowe's is my best friend, probably too much so...

gigi said...

I agree with you there are way too many choices. when I built my house a few years back I started going with classic and simple that was my motto. If it had to be special ordered I didn't want it.

Good luck!

Problem Child said...

I did not realize my friends had so much information to share about toilets.

And I knew Maven Linda doesn't fall into this category!