The cost of painting a hallway

Time for the next edition of Prompts for the Promptless courtesy of Rarasaur.

True Cost is a term for the often-overlooked, comprehensive expense of something, including the time-related and emotional costs.

Example:  You can purchase a cat for money.  Let’s say $100.  That’s the basic cost.  The True Cost of the cat, though, is in the litter box, food bowl, cat carrier, food, vet bills, litter, the time spent on the cat, shirts that are torn by tiny kitten claws, the worry you experience when the cat is ill, and the grieving if the cat passes away before you.

Back in the closing decade of the last century, when running their campaign for an election, the Labour party accused Margaret Thatcher of knowing “the cost of everything and value of nothing”. The quote originated with Oscar Wilde as his definition of a cynic.  It was unsuccessful as a campaign but it is often still quoted when old fogies such as myself gather around the fire to reminisce about the Eighties and how terrible they were.

They were hard times, and we felt like we were living in a Dickens novel. Indeed, Victorian values were being explicitly quoted as superior to modern ones, to which those of us somewhat to the left of fascism retorted sniffily “What? Like children up chimneys and syphilis?”

I can tell you now, my dears, there is not much forgiveness for that woman and her policies in my shrivelled heart. They hurt me directly and painfully, and now “Dave” is trying to rehabilitate the party and appear cuddly, while underneath we see the sharks circling as the media campaigns rabidly against skivers and scroungers and people who don’t fit a mythical norm.

You will have gathered my tendency is to the left wing. I am a vegetarian, pacifist, feminist, non-profit-employed, hippy wannabee. What do you expect? It’s in the person spec.

So, moving on…

I am intrigued as to whether, for the purposes of this post, we can equate “true cost” with “value”. I think I know about true cost. I deal with it daily for my job. “It looks like the development of that functionality costs X,” I tell my bemused colleagues, “but in fact the true cost is Y once you factor in the implementation team, the support, maintenance, and staffing costs.”

At first I thought cost and value were the same. Then that old demon, the other hand, stirred, twitched and finally said, through mixed metaphorese, “Wait a minute, isn’t true cost just cost with everything included – gross, not nett? Quantitative. Value is all the touchy-feely stuff you tree-huggers go on about – the so-called qualitative stuff that’s a waste of time!” (My other hand is very much on the right.)

I hate to admit it, but on this occasion my right hand may have a point.

I am aware that given my busy life-style and fortunate financial position, I will sometimes pay someone else to do a job I could do myself but don’t choose to do because my time is more valuably spent eg blogging or writing village quizzes or visiting with friends or family. I might pay a decorator to paint the hallway so I am free to spend the weekend with a friend. Somewhere in my head I have calculated that (a) the cost (true and / or quoted) is acceptable and (b) the value is favourably weighted. To my right hand, I would say something like “The cost of paying someone to do this is less than the cost of paying me to do this because, while paint is paint, my time is more expensive.”

Well, how very dare I? As if I could paint the hall as well as someone who decorates for a living! Perhaps I also recognise, but do not admit (least of all to that snarky right hand!) that he paints better than I do so I get a higher quality result.

How do I put a cost to the pleasure I feel in a well=painted hall against the pride in a hall painted with blood, sweat, emulsion and tears? That’s where value, and personal priorities, both enter the equation. I might paint badly but feel the integrity of a self-painted hallway is higher. Or I might decide that if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well, and so get a professional in to do it.

Yes, the cost of my hallway went up with paying Gary to do it. My satisfaction with the end product is the value, and for me that was greater by getting Gary in.

Thanks, Gary. It looks great!


6 thoughts on “The cost of painting a hallway

  1. Pingback: Prompts for the Promptless – Ep. 7 – True Cost | rarasaur

    • Words are tricksy eh?
      The hallway is a pale green with grey-blue woodwork. I love it but poor gray was a bit perturbed we weren’t using white gloss for the skirting boards! He’s very traditional 🙂

  2. Pingback: The True Cost of Stress | rarasaur

  3. Pingback: Prompts for the Promptless – Ep. 8 – The Litmus | rarasaur

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