Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Enemy of Not Good Enough

The other day - true story - my trusty widget broke. Oh, it was a good, solid widget that, while not perfect, fulfilled its function adequately for its cost. It was a vintage 1994 Republic Debatifying Wireless Widg-o-matic. And while I never had any real connection with the company, I developed a sort of loyalty to the brand. Its next closest competitor, The Tic Obeyifier, not only didn't come close to meeting my needs, it's an especially dangerous model that could inflict serious damage even when functioning properly and was priced way too high.

Anyway, my Widge-o-matic totally broke down: the groober cycles stopped remonifying the tweez causing seriously malfunctioning flarbies during the output. So, I moseyed down to the local WidgeMart to get me a shiny new 2008 model. A salesman named "Ira" greeted me, and I asked him to show me the new Republic Widge-o-matic line. He led me over to the shelves that held the the various brands of widgets. The store carried the two majors: Republic and Tic, as well as a few other lower brands that it appeared nobody ever bought, as the inch-thick layer of dust on them testified.

After a quick perusal of the store's selection, I noticed that there was no Republic Widge-o-matic model. I queried the salesman as to where I could find it.

"They no longer make that model," came Ira's reply.

Well, fine, I thought, I'll adapt. "So what is the new late-model Republic equivalent of the Widge-o-matic?"

Ira pointed at a rather dorky looking pinstriped widget that did indeed bear the "Republic" brand. I picked it up off the shelf, turned it over in my hands, looked under its bleefulator, and gently placed it back on the shelf.

"This is a piece of crap," I declared.

"Oh, surely you are kidding," Ira said. "It's just like the Tic model."

"But the Tic model is crap."

The logic seemed lost on Ira. He cleared his throat nervously and backtracked a little.

"Well, it's not exactly like the Tic. For instance, it deraficates at speed of over 100 hectajoules. Er...and it...well it has an airbag."

I was becoming annoyed. "First of all, I don't use my widget for deraficating, and frankly, I don't know any Republic user who does. Secondly, I wouldn't need an fricking airbag on my widget if it didn't have the propensity to spontaneously combust like the Tic. I want a Widge-o-matic, and I want it NOW!"

With a curt nod, Ira turned on his heel to get his manager. When he returned with the manager, a fellow named "Ron," the three of us unproductively rehashed nearly the exact conversation I had just had with Ira. Finally, Ron asked me a rather odd question.

"Are you a Christian?"

I stared at him for what I hoped seemed like hours to him, then clarified through clenched teeth, "I'm Catholic."

"Well, ho ho, then," Ron's voice now jolly, "this New Republic model is just for you! The Republic Bucklefee is very big with the evangelicals especially!"

"Yes, but there's no real difference between this and the Tic model, up to and including its prohibitively high price and the real possibility that it could blow up my house. And while we're on the subject, what in the hell does religion have to do with it? I just want a widget!"

Ron stared at me in disbelief as if I had just told him that I use my Widget for narfeling weasels or something. He then spoke very deliberately, his patience evaporating away.

"This model is the compassionate choice. It gives money to charity."

My patience also running out, I explained, "I don't use widget's for charity, I use widgets to probesce flocuals. Charity is a personal virtue that is performed by individuals, not by some overly-pious contraption. You twit."

Nonplussed, Ron retorted, "Well fine, buy the Tic then! Or throw away your money on one of those lesser brands. But the fact is that the only way you're going to keep Republic in business is by buying Republic widgets."

Hoping that my trip out was not a total loss, I asked Ron if Republic even made the Widge-o-matic any more, and if so, where I could buy one.

"Oh sure, they still make the Widge-o-matic. But they're not selling well right now, so you'll be hard pressed to find a store that has them."

I nodded, and turned to leave. Ron chased after me, offering not a final plea, but a warning.

"Don't let perfect be the enemy of good, son -"

I couldn't stand it anymore and cut him off: "If perfect is the enemy of good, then what is the enemy of not good enough?"

I left the store. Ron had no answer.

I, however, did have an answer. I walked around the corner to the grocery store, and bought a whole shitload of bacon with the money I had budgeted for the widget.

NOTE: If you don't prefer gibberish in your political commentary (though having ingested an awful lot of it lately, it appears that you do), try substituting Coke, New Coke and Pepsi for the relevant brands and models.

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