Monday, July 30, 2007

signals

I have an interesting, for me anyway, dilemma at the moment. It’s certainly not life threatening, and easily resolved for me. I’m sitting here with a blank screen and a blank mind and hoping for God to drop inspiration into my lap so I can get my writing fix in at the beginning of the week. Inspiration in the form of an annoyance appears. Not exactly how I would have scripted it, but I’ll take what I can at the moment. This is where the dilemma enters.
Lately, it seems, that whenever I fire up my trusty porto-pc at this particular caffeinated establishment, I get conflicting signals for my wireless. Here’s the issue. In this place I can look out the window, across the corner, to a Starbucks. I realize that this is not such a stretch in Seattle. So anyway, I fire up my laptop and it automatically seeks signal from a friendly wi-fi provider. The place that I frequent, Tully’s, has free wi-fi. The venue across the street does not. In fact it has a very expensive choice for wi-fi that I will not mention lest I be sued on top of the wi-fi charge.
Anyway, the obvious sane preference is going for free, and sometimes the signal from here kicks in immediately. But occasionally the extortionist from across the street increases impulse power like a tractor beam from the Starship Enterprise and it beseeches me to log on for only $19.95 per month. Now I will admit, the reason this happens is that I have, in fact, at one time gone over to the dark side and created an account with the previously mentioned extortionists. It was a desperate time. I was in New Orleans a few months after the hurricane on a relief mission and it was the only game in town at the time to provide outside updates to those who cared about our trip. I understand the extortion then, everyone seems to be doing it at the scene of natural disasters. I’m told it’s supply and demand. I’d call it a load of crap. However, it is what it is.
After some extra strokes of the keyboard I can solve my dilemma and log into the free wi-fi that I have come to expect. Here’s the inspirational parallel though that I was seeking. As I reflect on my daily situations and decision making, I often know what I prefer. I often know the right thing to do versus the wrong thing. However, more than I care to admit, the signals come in from everywhere else but the place that I’m at, and there can often be confusion as to what is really the profitable thing to do. Sometimes the signal comes in the form of something more recognizable. I am convinced that some people pay the ridiculous fees because it is what is provided at the mecca of coffee. They already pay the increased coffee prices, so why not add wi-fi to it as long as they can be with the “in” crowd. There is a culture who would rather be poor and “inside” than responsible and “outside” in those other places. They can’t think deeper than the brand and the advertising and they’ll buy anything associated with it. I don’t blame them, the signals can overpower at times and it appears that these choices, no matter how costly, are the only choices. I interact with a good many people who question whether, indeed, there is right and wrong at all. Is it all relative to the situation? I think the answer to this one is a bit more obvious than we may care to admit. How much does it cost? Every decision has some type of cost associated with it. Wrong choices cost a great deal. They may cost relationships. They may cost health. They may cost security. It is nearly beyond my ability to comprehend how deceived people truly are who don’t see that poor choices come from bad signals.
It’s not that I don’t always know when the signals are wrong. Probably, for the most part I do. The question is in the effort that it takes to make the right ones. Honestly, in the case of my wi-fi, I have less clicks of my mouse to log into $19.95 per month than I do for free. I the moment, it really is easier to pay. The problem comes at the end of the month, when the bill comes due. That is when I realize the cost of following the wrong signal. By that time it’s too late, and I have to pay.

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