I think July 2006 has to go record as the single most expensive month I’ve experienced since moving to Sweden.
First, I had to pay the 1000 kronor deductible on the insurance policy that covered the theft of my commuting bike. Little did I know at the time that this would be the tip of proverbial iceberg. Just over a week later I had to replace my mobile phone after it took an accidental dive off my company’s yacht while I was wearing it. And then, what I hope and pray was the final financial blow of the month came this weekend when we had to replace the TV.
We knew it was coming. The old TV had been suffering from an occasional collapsing picture* as far back as late May…which I remember because Dr. Darling was concerned that it might decide to play up during the World Cup. (It didn’t, thankfully.) All the electronics stores in the city had stocked up on flat-screens in anticipation of everybody wanting to watch the tournament on a bigger TV, so we reasoned that there might be some pretty decent sales after it was over.
My frugal Swede promptly launched one of her famously exhaustive consumer research campaigns to determine which flat-screen we ought to buy…and as soon as she’d settled on a brand and model, the old TV miraculously started to behave again. This was the start of a pattern that continued throughout June and July. The old TV would play up one evening, prompting us to do a little window shopping for new ones the next day. And without fail, the next time we turned on the TV, it would function beautifully. (This was such a regular occurence that at the beginning of July I joked about visiting an electronic store once a week to insure that the TV would last us through the summer.)
So when the picture collapsed into its usual single white horizontal line late Friday evening about 20 minutes into "In Her Shoes" (a DVD rental), we figured we were in for another false (though somewhat inconvenient) alarm. After turning the set off for three or four minutes, the picture returned as usual, only to collapse again 10 minutes later. We went through this process three more times…getting to see less and less of the film between each collapse…before finally giving up and going to bed with an hour of the movie left to watch.
It had never played up that badly before and we knew that our days of being able to "trick" it into functioning were numbered. So on Saturday, we went out and actually bought the TV that Dr. Darling’s research indicated was going to give us the most flat-screen for our kronor, though she admitted to being nervous about the purchase anyway. Our conversation afterward went something like this:
Shazz: If you’re this stressed and anxious about spending 13,000 SEK on TV, what are you going to be like when we buy a car?
Dr. D: Probably worse. It’s times like these that I wish we lived in a communist country. Then there wouldn’t be so many choices and it would be much easier to decide what to buy.
Shazz: If we lived in a communist country, we probably wouldn’t make enough money to even *think* about getting a flat-screen TV, let alone a car.
Dr. D: You may have a point there.
Shazz: Besides that, I’m not sure it’s even possible to buy a brand new Volvo in Cuba.
*An investigation of this type of malfunction lead us to conclude it was being caused by a failing picture tube, the most expensive component to replace. Since the TV was fairly old and well out of warranty, we decided that it was very likely not worth repairing…especially since we’d have to borrow or rent a car just to get it to a repair shop.