I’ve noticed that shoppers come in two broad varieties, the opportunists and the discriminators, and these categories are not exclusive of each other. I’m not talking about any specific kind of shopping, but the general act of purchasing goods and services.
Opportunistic shoppers are those that buy first and foremost based on value, with the actual good or service being purchased being a secondary consideration amongst it and its competitors. This pattern applies to all sorts of purchases, from choosing a veterinarian because they’re offering a special of some sort to choosing to buy cucumbers instead of zucchinis because they’re on sale this week.
This type of shopper is common amongst the less affluent classes of society, for obvious reason: they have limited money to spend. Many of the older generation, who grew up around the Depression and the world wars are opportunistic shoppers (and with good reason).
These are the picky shoppers, the ones who want a particular item or service regardless of cost. Many rich folk are like this. They want a Ferrari even though a Mercedes-Benz is available for a lot less; they want Fiji Water even though Aquafina is available for a lot less. They want the real Gucci bag instead of the fake look-alike despite the enormous price difference.
Opportunists and discriminators
In themselves the categories are rather flat and uninteresting. The interesting part is that most people are both kinds of shoppers at the same time, to varying degrees.
- Grandma wants to save money at the grocery store, so she’ll buy cantaloupes instead of watermelons because they’re on sale. But she still cares enough to want a melon-type fruit that she won’t settle for bananas or apples, even though they’re on sale too. If all she cared about was price she would simply pick the fruits with the best current discounts.
- A young schmuck of an investment banker decides he wants a nice mid-level luxury car. He narrows down his choices to a pretty big pool of brands: Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Lexus, Infiniti, and Acura. That’s his discriminating side. But does he care enough between how differently one drives (or feels or looks) from another to spend an extra…$5-10k on one over the other? Probably not, so he’ll most likely narrow it down to 2-4 choices and take the one he gets the best deal on.
- The same schmuck wants a digital camera. He’ll take either Nikon or Canon (since that’s what everyone seems to buy, he thinks), but which one he buys depends on the deal he gets.
I haven’t done the studies but I think it’s safe to say that the strict opportunists and discriminators can only be found in the lowest and highest echelons of society, respectively. And even then I don’t think anyone can only be one type without being even a small bit of the other.
I’ve stayed at motels, and I’ve stayed at hotels. (And I’ve also stayed at guest houses, hostels, and private residences, but we’re not talking about those here.)
If you’re flying and don’t have a car, you don’t really have a choice but to stay at an airport hotel, unless you rent a car and go out of your way to a motel. If you’re driving, however, as many in this great land do for trips and vacations, I’ve come to unequivocably prefer motels over the years, for a handful of simple reasons:
- Fast check-in
Just give them your driver’s license, credit card, fill out a form (required sometimes, not always), and you’re set to go. At a hotel they’ll want your rewards number if you have one, or sign you up if you don’t. They’ll make small talk because they get paid for having that “friendlier than thou” attitude.
- Easy access 1
This is by far the most important reason I prefer motels: your car is right there, outside your door. No walking through some lobby and going up an elevator to get to your room. Forgot something in the car? It’ll take less than two minutes to get it in a motel. In a hotel you’ll either have to go to the underground parking or have the valet get the car for you. Just a hassle.
- Easy access 2
The other easy access they offer is being right along the highway, and not in some business park or airport vicinity like hotels tend to be.
For those of us with with more important things to waste money on than a softer mattress and fluffier towels, motels are a hell of a lot cheaper than hotels. I mean a lot cheaper, where you could save hundreds a night with just two people. Why not spend that money on going places, eating good food, getting big prints from all the photos you would have missed without that additional money you saved!
- Internet and HBO
It surprises me that large hotel chains manage to charge extra for in-room internet access and premium cable channels, and get away with it. Motels tell you right on their classy neon sign that wi-fi and HBO are included!
I’m not sure. Maybe it’s just a bit of lingual trickery or semantic abracadabra, but it came to me that even when someone is alone, they’re not really alone in being alone.
In giving a rather trivial question unnecessary amount of thought, I decided “alone” can mean two separate things: it is at once an object, or concept, and a subject, or feeling.
Where concerns the concept of aloneness, no one is ever truly alone, which is possibly comforting but mostly just sad, because that takes away the one possible thing anyone can truly have for themselves in this god-forsaken life. It’s true that at any given time there are millions of individuals sharing in the common privilege (or condition) of being alone, voluntarily or otherwise.
As for the subject of aloneness, the feeling of it, that’s something one has to handle on one’s own, much to the chagrin of many individuals. It often takes courage, and it always takes patience. So good luck with that. Seriously.