Around Christmas time I wrote about troubles finding blue ornaments for my tree. I noted that the selection of Christmas decorations was very narrow – there just was not much to choose from and very little of what there was on the shelves – and I used it as anecdotal evidence that a demand shortfall is alive and well in the US.

During the time I spent without a job, a few years, the only stores I went to were ones that had necessities, i.e., grocery and home improvement if I needed to fix something. I never ventured away from the necessities. If I needed bug spray or a screwdriver, I went in, got what I needed and left. There was too much angst about money in my household to even think about looking at other things. Ditto for shopping malls, not only because it was depressing, but I couldn’t afford the gas to get there.

But now that I have a job, I’m finding that I have a different problem.

My husband and I have a list of things we need to fix or replace that we didn’t have the money to fix or replace them when the need was apparent. The bed we have, for example, is one that I bought a couple of years before we got married, and we’ll be married 19 years in July. The mattress has gullies and ditches in it, and needs replacing very badly. The carpet we have in our family room looks like a herd of elephants has been living on it. My dishwasher died right after I started my new job; and I need a ceiling fan, etc…

Right before I lost my previous job, I had picked out carpet I wanted. When I went to make my selection, I went to a home improvement big-box store (Home Depot). The home décor section was huge; there were various types and colors of carpet all over the place. It was the same for dishwashers – there were at least 20 models from which to choose.

We went shopping today for some of the major things now that we have some money to deal with them. We went back to Home Depot with the expectation that we would find something we wanted. But everything there has changed. There were only a few displays of carpet, and nine models of dishwashers – four very cheap ones, four very expensive ones, and one median-priced. I don’t want very cheap or very expensive, and the middle-priced one was not much better in quality than the cheap ones. The carpet that we could get in the color we want was very cheap quality. Seeing the ceiling fan display made me feel more hopeful, but it turned out to be a completely wasted trip because they never took sold out/discontinued fans down from the display.

There was a mattress store close by, so we stopped there and looked at beds. The one mattress I picked, they didn’t have any left and didn’t know when they would have more; ditto for my second choice.

I need a spring coat, so we went to Macy’s. There were four small racks of spring coats. But the style they had in my size was atrocious. I wouldn’t even wear it to clean the basement.

I thought life would be much better if I found another job. It is much better in many ways. We eat much better. We don’t have to worry about the bills. But it seems to be much more difficult finding things I want; and so I get to look at worn carpet, sleep on a worn bed, and wash dishes by hand while having to go out in a spring coat from the 1980’s as my paychecks pile up in the bank. Saving is good, but I really do need these other things.

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