The Yin and Yang of American Consumers
We cavalierly trust our satisfaction and service to these dubious, distant purveyors. I'm reminded of a reporter who asked John Glenn how he felt moments before he was about to be blasted into space for the first manned orbit of the earth. "How would you feel," he shot back, "knowing you were sitting on top of 2 million parts that all went to the lowest bidder?"
American consumers are either in the yin or the yang camp when it comes to prices and service. On the yin—or dark and brooding side—are the pathological bargain hunters who spend hours on the Web comparing prices of merchandise and hunting down the cheapest source, and then driving many miles to acquire it—only to blow the savings on tolls, depreciation and $1.69-per-gallon gas.
Yang consumers, on the other hand, are those sunny, optimistic lounge lizards who belly up to the bar and happily part with $15 for a martini—a 20-percent increase over last year's prices. In the words of Wall Street Journal writer Sarah Collins:
Strangely enough, some argue that higher prices are almost a status symbol. "If drinks get cheaper, people will be wondering, 'What kind of a place am I hanging out at?'" says Will Candis, a New York publicist who represents a number of bars across the country.
Whether you have a yin or a yang mentality—whether you're a consumer or stockholder—it's a good bet you'll will be taken to the cleaners by some American business people. Barry Gray, the mellifluous-voiced fixture on New York talk radio for 50 years, remembered the great American humorist and trick rope artist Will Rogers telling a story from his boyhood. One day, Rogers was sitting on a split-rail fence on his family's spread in Oklahoma. He saw an immense, blue-ribbon prize bull from the adjoining ranch being led across his property to an adjacent ranch where he was scheduled to service a prize heifer.