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My Comfort Is Not Worth $430

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Every two-bit shrink and dime-store guru in town likes to harp on about how you need to “forgive yourself,” “embrace your inner worth,” or “let go of your guilt.” Years ago, some genius figured out that people would pay him a fortune to hear him say that behaving like a lobotomized DMV employee/YouTube celebrity is all right. He told his dupes: “Hey don’t worry about. You shouldn’t be so hard on yourself. You go grab that world by the tail. You deserve it.”

Patients wrote checks so fast their hands caught on fire.

I recently went on a trip and when confronted with the realization that I had left my headphones behind, I decided to buy a new pair at the airport, my reasoning being that I had been meaning to purchase noise cancelling ‘phones for a while so as to make flying slightly less miserable. So I dipped into my savings account and took out $350 for a pair of top-of-the-line headphones. Next, riding my post-purchase high, I bought an $80 upgrade out of the cattle car and into the petit bourgeois enclave known as Economy Comfort. In total, I spent $430 at that airport in an effort to make myself slightly more comfortable for the next seven hours.

$430. That’s half my month’s rent.

I immediately wondered whether I should give in to the powerful feeling of guilt that enveloped me and admit to myself that blowing my savings on a seat I would never see again as well as headphones I would only use a few times a year was a bad idea.

I did.

Guilt is a warning system designed to keep us from repeating dumb decisions: that embarrassing one night stand… that expensive lap dance (“I was so close, bro!”)… that nasty thing you said to your mother… etc.

Unfortunately for the human race, guilt has become extremely unpopular over the past few decades, as talking heads urge us to take out that extra mortgage because your kids deserve the best school money can buy. Don’t feel guilty about that BMW you couldn’t afford; feel fabulous.

But do you deserve to feel fabulous in that silly car you never really earned? What’s fabulous about living hand to mouth to afford a lavish lifestyle?

In that same vein, did I deserve to pamper myself with those headphones and that extra spacious seat? After all, I’m broke. That $430 could still be sitting in my account waiting for a rainy day when it could be put to better and perhaps more lasting use… such as when my rent next comes due. Still, at the time I dismissed such thoughts, choosing to remain confident that the universe would provide some source of monetary gain for me. To date, it still has not. So now, I’m preparing to delve more into that tired old savings account. Man, I could run the Federal Reserve. Zing!

What exactly is my comfort worth? Well to be perfectly honest, I don’t know. What is anyone’s comfort worth? Let’s say that for $800 a month, I pay for the comfort of an apartment with hot water and cooking gas. So that $800 gets me 31 days of 24-hour comfort. I can stretch my legs all I please. I can sleep. No one tells me what to do. For more than half amount I got slightly less achy legs for 7 hours, with stewardesses barking at me for leaving my brand new headphones on during takeoff. Apparently, they count as electronic devices because of the noise-cancelling feature. Unless Delta suddenly started demanding $430 to opt out of the complimentary water boarding service, there is really no justification for paying so much for four more inches of legroom. Instead of going to someone who could afford them, these services went to someone who could not and thereby might end up costing the market more than he ever put it into it.

Still, those Bose headphones are fucking sweet.

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Jules Owen - Wandering Wastrel

Jules Owen - Wandering Wastrel

Going to a rich kid school when you aren't even given an allowance certainly trains you to live large on the cheap. Armed with such expertise, Jules travelled the globe, surviving off of 50 cent beers and 2 dollar meals everywhere from Buenos Aires to Mumbai. Three years ago he returned to the United States, living first in Baltimore while he settled a debt with the IRS, then in Brooklyn where he plays music and writes. He aspires to one day live in a van on N.15th and Kent.


  1. August 24, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    $800 a month in rent? Jealous.

  2. Jeffrey C. Anthony
    August 24, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    How much do people pay for cable TV? How much do people pay for luxury cars?
    Aside from the obvious I’ve found that interacting with the common person who does not pay exorbitant fees for useless things is far more rewarding than the social class boost of pretending you are worth it.

    I’m 6′ and 275 lbs. The seats are not made for me. But I easily sit in them happily. When not talking with others I can easily pull out my $35 refurb non apple MP3 player and read a good book on my nook, transporting myself to a far away happy place for a few hours for a fraction of the cost of a few inches of leg room.

    Make your own happiness, don’t for a second believe that the only happiness is the one that they sell to everyone.