Oscar Wilde once wrote, “The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”
That idea came to mind Wednesday when, as my headache was beginning to ease up, I had to run a few errands. I was at the Grove checking out prices and specs of a new Mac while buying a few necessities. To make things easier on myself, I decided to grab a quick bit at the adjacent Farmer’s Market where I could get a cheese plate at Monsieur Marcel. My sister-in-law insists that cheese is good for headaches. (Whether or not science backs her up is immaterial; just believing it is true transforms eating one of my favorite foods from a delightful and nutritious experience to a pleasant and therapeutic one.)
As I contemplated a sit-down meal, I pondered what I would do to deal with the boredom while I waited to order and be served. There were only so many ideas I could scribble into the note-pad I keep with me at all times. Would it be worthwhile to buy a book, I wondered (and not for the first time in such a situation), just to have something to occupy my time? Or, maybe a magazine, much cheaper than books they are.
I went over to the Barnes & Noble where I browsed a bit before starting to read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers (about which I had heard much) and soon the decision was made. With the store discount and the additional B & N member discount (which barely covers the cost of sales tax in LA), the book would be about $18. I could have gotten it cheaper at Amazon, but not in enough time to avoid boredom at the restaurant.
So caught up was I with the book that time flew by as they prepared my meal. The cost seemed worth it. Plus I’d have the book to read on future such occasions (provided of course I remembered to bring it with me).
The whole experience made me wonder about the value of not being bored. Here, we live in a town where the main industry derives the better part of its income from people considering that very issue. How much will we pay for cable, to rent a DVD or go to the movies so we don’t have to be bored? Maybe that sounds cynical. But, I’m not so sure.
If I had focused so much on the cost of the book (which I could have gotten cheaper at Amazon), I would have lost sight of its value, to engage me, enlighten me and possibly entertain me while I waited for a meal. It did all three, well worth the extra money I paid to have the book right away.
Just a thought for what it’s worth. If anything.