“Indecision is debilitating; it feeds upon itself; it is, one might almost say, habit-forming. Not only that, but it is contagious; it transmits itself to others.”
- H.A. Hopf
Last night I nearly had a nervous breakdown while shopping for suitcases. I know you’re thinking, Not Theresa. She always has her act completely together! How can a normal person have a nervous breakdown when shopping for suitcases?
In a few short weeks, my husband and two children are attending a wedding in Ireland. Since it’s my side of the family that has Irish roots, it seems strange it’s my husband’s family who’s having the wedding in Ireland. His cousin is marrying an Irish woman, so that’s the reason. My husband really only has one cousin, so it seemed important to attend. Besides, we’ve hardly traveled and had only gone to Ireland once before when my son was eleven-months-old.
Since we were going so far, my husband and I decided to add a few days in Paris. (I know, a hardship.) My daughter is looking forward to it because the city conjures up romance plus rumors of good bread. My son wants to go for the cuisine and the Arc de Triomphe. They both want to climb the Eiffel Tower. (Marsha Moore*, thank you for your help!)
Because most of our travels consist of driving, we normally take a gigantic duffel bag in which to cram all of our clothes. This thing won’t work for a plane trip, especially with no wheels and a fifty-pound limit. For previous plane trips, we borrowed a suitcase from our in-laws, but since they’re also going to the wedding that won’t work. So we had to behave like grownups and purchase our own suitcases.
After dinner, my husband and I drove to T.J. Maxx. For those of you who don’t know it, it’s a discount designer clothing and housewares store.
In a previous post** I mentioned the book The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz. He asserts the more choices we have, the less happy we are. And the more we weigh different options, the less ideal any one choice seems. Since then, I try not to agonize about purchases. And I’ve gotten much better, making a swift choice, and moving on without much buyer’s remorse. I’ve evolved.
Heading to the baggage section of the store, I planned to employ the same philosophy. I’d find two suitcases that were the right size, sturdy, hopefully not black (too common on the conveyer belt), and with wheels.
While there, I noticed some were lighter, so I added that option to my list. I found two red ones, but one was too small. I held on to the larger one, while my husband looked for another. Then he found another type he liked because it was expandable (and he won’t admit it but the little orange trim was an added bonus) and the same brand of backpack I’d bought him last year. We were practically set, but at some point he’d pointed out a bag with four wheels, so it didn’t have to tilt in order to move. That got me thinking.
I should mention that when faced with too many choices when someone is impatiently waiting, I become a deer in headlights. I. can’t. make. a. decision. That’s what happened. I pulled each four-wheeled suitcase off the shelf and compared them. None of the four wheelers were as light as the red one. How were the interiors designed? And which had more outside pockets? Is it bad if one isn’t expandable? At this point, I had three in front of me, paralyzed with indecision.
My husband walked away, letting me agonize alone. He returned with a can opener and in that time I’d only succeeded in adding a bag. “You were going to do this alone?” he asked incredulously. If I hadn’t had a sub job, yes, that was my plan. And I could picture all of the calls I would’ve made to him while he was at work.
Forty minutes since we’d arrived, I’d narrowed it down to two, which were splayed open on the floor. My husband tried to talk me into the red one.
Just then a woman passed by, pointing to the purple one and said, “I have this suitcase. It’s the best. I love it.” She pointed to the red case, “Don’t get that one.” Then she leaned over and touched the extra bag inside and added, “Mine didn’t come with this.”
“Thanks,” I mumbled.
My husband, relieved beyond measure, said, “You have an endorsement. What more do you want? ‘It’s the best.’ Get this one.”
So I did.
Sometimes I need to be talked down from the indecision cliff.
“This indecision’s bugging me
(Esta indecisión me molesta)
If you don’t want me, set me free
(Si no me quieres librame)”
- Jones, Mick; Mellor, John. Song “Should I Stay or Should I Go” The Clash
* Marsha Moore’s 24 Hours Paris launch is this week!
** My post that mentions The Paradox of Choice: