I recently had to explain the concept of a “Distressed Purchase”. Typically, this arises when we’ve gone somewhere on holiday, and the weather isn’t quite as we anticipated, prompting us to buy something to keep warm. For example, on a rain soaked cycling holiday in Seefeld a couple of years back, we had forgotten to take our leg warmers and had to buy new ones. Or last year, while watching the Tour in the Alps, it was so cold we both bought anoraks, fortunately “on sale”.
This may surprise you given my obsession with planning and preparation. But years of travelling on business, and with as few changes of clothes as possible, means that even when travelling by car I don’t take the kitchen sink. Admittedly, whatever the weather, there’s two items you’ll always find in my luggage: a superfine black pashmina shawl and a cashmere sweater. But you typically wouldn’t take a down-filled anorak on a summer vacation, when the long-range weather forecast is favourable, would you?
My distressed purchases are few and far between and some, like the anorak, have proved to be valuable buys. For me it’s all about euros/wear. If an item ends up joining my list of “old-faithfulls” it’s more than paid its way.
My beloved, on the other hand, a man who spends his life circumnavigating the globe on a regular basis, pretty much only makes “distressed purchases”. Fairly early on in married life we established my beloved’s inability to acquire items of clothing which fitted or went with anything else in his wardrobe. I’m not sure whether he succumbs too easily to the blandishments of the sales people, is colour-blind or really does think his bum doesn’t look too big in it! Whatever, it’s safe to say, he shouldn’t be let out on his own.
On average, my beloved makes a distressed purchase every other trip. This will be for a variety of reasons. Primarily, because he’s forgotten to take it with him. Yes, despite my efforts to get him to follow a list, he still forgets stuff. We’re talking cuff-links, adaptor plugs, re-chargers those types of things. Equally, these are the types of things he forgets along the way to which I should add ties, toilets bags and his laptop cable and charger. Next up are those occasions when the airline misplaces his luggage on a long-haul trip where he’s changed planes at least once. The airline won’t lose the luggage but generally my beloved and his luggage only connect when he’s due to return home. Of course, the insurance company and airline give you a daily allowance which my husband uses up in a nano-second.
He’s now on unfamiliar territory, and very dangerous ground, as he can’t remember his size or the brands he normally wears. In addition, my husband works on the one per day rule. No matter that you can wash and dry things overnight or even put them in the hotel laundry. His luggage has gone astray, he’s away for seven days therefore he needs seven pairs of socks, underpants, shirts. He will go on a veritable orgy of spending acquiring all manner of vile items which are ill-fitting and ill-suited for the purpose. Often they are never worn again. Sometimes I get lucky and this happens in India where stuff’s cheap, no matter how much he buys.
I recall a trip to Canada where he was due to play a round of golf with a friend. He went out and bought new golf kit, head to toe, for one day’s golf! A man who’s got more golf kit than half the ProTour. Needless to say this was neither covered by insurance nor strictly necessary. Don’t forget this is a man who could open his own sports shop, offering a very wide range of sporting goods and apparrel.
Another of his obsessions, though I confess rather less expensive than some of his other indulgences, are swimming goggles. He’s always buying “the latest and best” and promptly losing them, along with swimming shorts, flip-flops and towels. In truth, my husband is legend when it comes to misplacing things. He always claims that he’s not lost them he just can’t place his hands on said item at this particular moment in time. I’m fond of saying if I had a euro for every item he’s lost I’d be a wealthy woman. Of course, I’d be even better off if I then didn’t have to fork out for the replacement!