Wednesday, October 10, 2007

italy or puke

So here's your background: Sunny and I have this colleague who's 30 years old and lives at his parents' house. He's had quite a sheltered life, is a very technically-focussed engineer, and is extremely bright. He is obsessed with cameras and owns a ridiculous amount of very expensive equipment (the most recent purchase was yet another lens for $1,600). And he tells us long stories about the way that he bakes pies, from an engineer's perspective. Said colleague has $150K in the bank for a downpayment on a house which, for various reasons, he has not bought as of yet. For these and other equally fascinating reasons, many posts on this colleague will likely ensue. And for some reason (probably because we are both scintillating and brilliant), he comes to us frequently for advice on various life issues.

But back to the story: a few weeks ago this guy decided he wanted to go to Italy for a vacation. He didn't have anyone to go with, and we heard about this in great detail. Finally, Sunny suggested he look into a GAP adventure tour. This seemed like an excellent idea because of the loose structure of these tours, and our colleague got excited about the possibilities. He started researching and found a tour he liked that would take him around Italy for two weeks. He would have to fly out on October 19. Yes, that's nine days from now.

But despite all the excitement and research and apparently much discussion with the tour reservations guy (the poor, poor man), weeks went by and the tour didn't get booked. Sunny and I began to get exasperated at the indecision and pressured our colleague to seal the deal.

Last Friday he decided to explain his difficulties. When he calculated all of the costs--airfare, basic tour costs, extra meals, "ancillaries" (his word, not mine) and tips--all in all the tour was going to cost $4,500. I explained that Italy is not cheap and that this seemed like a great deal to me--that he would spend much more if he were travelling on his own.

Then the craziness began. The colleague told me that he had actually spent the same amount on a trip to Japan last year, so it wasn't the actual hard cost that was bothering him. The trouble was instead that the costs in Japan (because he travelled on his own, with a friend) were spread out, as he booked his airfare beforehand, paid for meals and stuff along the way, and then got the visa bill for his accommodations afterward. He compared this to a prepaid phone plan, where you never see all of the costs as a whole, so they don't seem quite as big. This Italy trip, he said, was more like a postpaid phone plan, where you see the costs all upfront and it just seems like so much.


Again, I'd like to remind you that this person is extremely intelligent and has $150K in the bank.

Yesterday he came by to tell us that he had actually bitten the bullet and booked the whole trip. This was apparently a life-changing decision as he looked as though he were about to puke.



SunnyShine note: It's probably keeping him up at night. He should really be studied.

1 comment:

Emory said...

Been to Italy, and have puked. Regardless of the cost, I prefer Italy.

Please remind the engineer that it is all ones and zeros .....