Off The Shelf

Off the shelf solutions are convenient. They are cost- effective instead of being cheap. To the naked eye, the former is merely the politically correct way of saying the latter. Actually, there is no other difference between the two.

Off the shelf apparel, business solutions, software… they are all cheaper and very convenient to use. They are readily available and help save time. You are also saved a lot of bother. You don’t have to rack your brains choosing what you want from the wide range of options. You don’t need to get deep into the design element of the thing. Thus you avoid a whole lot of stress.

The downside is that you don’t get what you actually need. Some of your vital requirements are not catered to. Your sleeves may flop or your rather typical HR processes cannot be covered. Once you obtain the off the shelf solution, you can try to customize it to a limited extent. Bottom- line is, you make do with something available in order to save time and bother. But the solution is not even adequate, let alone perfect. The worst of it all? You feel like a commodity- inadequate, unwholesome and incomplete.

Customized solutions are time consuming. You need to study, measure, observe the application area. You need to cater for quirks and idiosyncrasies. You would naturally keep personal preferences in mind while the solution is being designed. The result is a solution that fits where it should fit and is flexible where it needs to be flexible. Beautiful, wholesome and complete.

One of the biggest deterrents to customization, ostensibly, is time. To me however, the time saving is merely the outer layer of the onion. The core lies much deeper, under many other layers of skin.

At the core is the reluctance to think for yourself. To choose, to select from all the options available. In order to choose, you need to know what you like. You also need to know the qualities of the options available. Then you must perform the complicated process of tallying your preferences with what an option can deliver.

Do you want a satin shirt or a organza top? Will you have flaring sleeve or none at all. What kind of collar? If you choose a stiff collar, will satin be the right fabric? Will organza be suitable for a flared sleeve?

Too many decisions… too many choices. It is so much easier to go to a shop and check out the shirts/ tops available. You choose one, have it fitted as best as you can and you’re ready to go. Painless.

You ignore the exasperatingly short length of the top which causes it to come un-tucked from under your skirt band. You shrug and say, “What the hell!” and ignore the irritant, niggling pull of dissatisfaction.

Imagine buying a gift for someone you’ve recently met. You don’t know them very well. You have a very surface, vague idea of their preferences. You think they are the outdoor type but you aren’t sure. All you know is that they hate the color orange. The chances that your gift would be appropriate and suitable are astronomical- against. Only if you- or the person you are buying a gift for- have a guardian angel working over time, will it be possible that you will end up choosing something that would make the recipient jump for joy. They are more likely to hit the roof or have an apoplectic stroke. You may argue in court that you are not guilty of homicide, but that would just be so much hot air. Your goose, dear friend, would be SO cooked.

Knowing the perils, therefore, one would expect you to be careful. One would expect you to study, observe and delve deeper. One would expect you to make notes and check things out. I suppose one would be a little too optimistic, yeah?

You like to tack off the shelf descriptions on to people. You see someone trip over something once and they are branded clumsy. You see them draft a poor letter and they are idiots. They serve you a badly cooked meal once and they are lousy cooks. You see them get nervous at a presentation and they have no confidence. You see someone struggling to complete their assignment and they are lazy. You see someone with a dry, blotchy skin and they are unkempt. The list is endless. The principle is the same always. Save time and bother by hanging an off the shelf description onto someone based on a surface evaluation. If the description doesn’t fit them and doesn’t define who they are- too bad. You’ve saved time and bother. What of the things you lost?

Nurturing relationships are custom jobs; they don’t come Off The Shelf.

Off The Shelf

10 thoughts on “Off The Shelf”

  1. It is a compelling post on the general aversion to reasoned thinking. Combine that with lethargy and you have the modern race sold out on instant gratification. You have chosen fine examples of garments and software and brought it to the grave conclusion -branding of people. That is a resounding slap of a quote from Marylin Monroe.

    1. AS always, your comment gratifies me. How minutely you notice exactly the things I want my readers to notice! You are a delight, truly..! Thank you… 😀

  2. Superb. The reluctance to invest the time in getting to know someone, I see this happen all the time and often practice the branding myself unwittingly. Enriching piece, thank you.

    1. Each one of us practices branding. One reader wrote me a mail and said, quote:

      Am sorry to say but my first opinion about you was arrogant, with lots of attitude. I was wondering why the hell someone dictating the social space with her terms. But later don’t know when i started liking your writing and slowly getting acquainted with you.


      I have no idea why, but I have always been perceived as someone arrogant, brash and someone remarkably lacking in ‘sweetness and light’. A 20 min egg in short- as our dear PGW would have said. Of course it never managed to put me off my food… 😀

      Thank you for sharing this…

  3. Off the shelf goes with the two-minute relationships I’m guessing, Dagny! But seriously, we really need to take more time before we jump to conclusions and try to fit people into the boxes we’ve created.

    1. But we are so ridiculously fond of our boxes Corinne! They define the structure of our inner world. It is upsetting to have them changed. What does one do with that?

      Pleased to see you here after a long time. 🙂

  4. I have more fundamental question here:
    What should we be worrying about and how much?
    I invest time in clothes, but it is more like
    1. I like this shirt I would buy it, don’t care how it looks.
    2. Damn, I don’t have a green shirt, I want one.
    I do invest a hell lot of time buying a jeans though, pretty much visiting every levis store in every city I have ever been to check make and shade. But this is a slippery slope, the problem is that now I am investigating time in pretty much everything I own or wear.
    I spent many hours wondering about the power strips, searching on internet and reading review. For sake of humanity, it is just a god damn power strip.
    Ultimately this is all of us being consumers, I generally dislike being on this side of spectrum and just be consumer. I want to be producer, but I have no skills to make clothes or even food for that matter. The materialism is so high in this generation that they may loose sight of importance of person in question. People judge each other by the clothes and where they eat and what car they drive. And yes, I have also judged people by those labels.
    I am part of a country whose greatest man wore nothing but simple white cloth across his body and I aspire to acquire and invest time in wondering if someone is using beats headphone and think they are just plain dumb.
    Anyway, I have added you to list of my direct blogger feed, so I wont have to subscribe you though mail.
    and how in the name of god you are churning out so many blogs in such little time I have 10 odd blogs pending in draft state for last one year or so.

    1. I’ll answer your last question. Since you are one of the most intelligent people I know, that answer will give you the answer to the rest.

      I am able to churn so many blogs in such little time because I don’t worry about which brand of clothes I wear… or where I am seen… or which mobile I use. My clothes are unbranded, I am mostly seen in my little town and I choose my electronics for their functionality- not their brand image. Of my two numbers, one of them still uses a ₹ 1500/ Samsung basic handset. It doesn’t matter a whit to me who sniggers at me. They have time for it, I am too busy adding value to lives… my own and other people’s.

      I’ll think about the brands in some other life. Maybe. Or not. Who knows?

      But then that’s me. Never was much of a lass for judging a book by its cover. My ma would have been mighty annoyed if I’d harbored such shallow ideas. And one didn’t annoy my ma as far as was possible. She had a frank way of expressing herself that would just about take the top of your head off if you weren’t careful.

      What more can I say? 😀 😀 😀

      1. Gee!!! I just got thrashed in my own comments. I don’t think that is what I am wasting my time on. I am wasting my time on other useless activities like watching cartoons. Infact I have not bought a single pair of jeans in last three years. And I also have Rs 1200/- Nokia phone whereas I clearly need phone with GPS. Finding direction in england is nightmare without a GPS

        1. Ah I get it! You were being sarky..!

          Watching cartoons is a waste of time? Not if you have something better to do. If you don’t, it is a perfectly healthy way to keep oneself engaged.

          What on earth are you upto nowadays?


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