Yesterday was Valentine's Day, a day to show the ones we love how important they are to us. This year I got my wife a box of chocolate-covered strawberries, and traded a PlayStation 4 for food. Let me explain.
Image via Lazada.SG, where they sell this as a skin, apparently.
Emily and I had Valentine's Day all planned out. Since our babysitter would be busy doing stupid things for his girlfriend, I decided to take a few hours off in the AM. Instead of our traditional Valentine's Day dinner at whichever restaurant wasn't already filled with doting lovers, we were going to have a romantic Valentine's Day breakfast. Some heart-shaped pancakes, penis-shaped sausage, ovary-reminiscent eggs, that sort of thing.
But upon waking up on Valentine's Day morning, our plans to symbolically eat each other hit a snag — we had no money. Strange, we normally have money. Where did the money go?
In my case, the answer was limbo. I'd been spending quite a bit on some home improvement items over the past couple of weeks, in anticipation of incoming tax return monies, because spending money you don't have yet but should have soon, no problem, is always a wise choice. Unfortunately a new law came into effect in the US in 2017 that says that tax returns for people qualifying for child tax credits can't be processed until February 15.
I didn't realise this until February 10, after which I leaped into action, setting up a transfer of money from one account to another, a transfer that was supposed to be completed by Tuesday morning. That did not happen. My money is currently occupying the space between two accounts. On paper it is there, only it isn't. Banking is fun.
I am too proud to ask for a loan, even for one day. I am not too proud, however, to ask my wife to pay for Valentine's Day breakfast. Only her money was gone as well.
Emily is currently waiting on a refund from Microsoft. One of our two five-year-olds, who shall remain nameless though it was Seamus, was playing on the living room Xbox One when he attempted to play The Elder Scrolls Online, a game I own, on his mother's Xbox Live account. Most of the time that's not a problem. Nearly all of my games can play on both of our accounts. But not The Elder Scrolls Online. He had to buy that one. Prompts took him to the store, where Emily had removed her payment information months before, only to re-add it briefly to renew her Xbox Live subscription.
Seamus, from our Future Mugshot Photo shoot.
Briefly was all Seamus needed to purchase The Elder Scrolls Online and a couple other downloadable games while he was at it. Thankfully, Microsoft understood when Emily called and explained the situation, and offered to refund her account. Unfortunately, that takes three to five business days, so until that goes through, she's running on fumes.
I sat in the living room on Valentine's Day morning, racking my brain for ideas. If I just waited a day, all of the money issues would be solved, but it wouldn't be Valentine's Day any more. February 15 is Discount Chocolate Day, a holiday that's about loving chocolate, not people. I made a few calls, but like I said, I am too proud to ask to borrow money, and those calls turned into awkward "So, how are you doing?" affairs instead.
Eventually my eyes settled on the living room PlayStation 4. The dusty, child fingerprint-plagued living room PS4. The relatively unused, unloved living room PS4.
I'd bought the living room PlayStation 4 at a Black Friday sale a couple of years back, for a price that wasn't really great but it was Black Friday so I did it anyway. I have a PlayStation 4 in my office, but what if I wanted to play while sprawled out on the couch? Unplugging two cables, carrying the thing and plugging it all back in? What a chore. No, I needed a living room PlayStation 4.
And now I needed Valentine's Day breakfast.
It's not like Seamus and Archer will miss it. They're too busy shouting at Cortana via Kinect on the Xbox One to care about a console that doesn't do anything when you yell at it. Besides, it's much easier to get to the PlayStation Store than it is the Xbox One Marketplace.
And so I gathered up the PlayStation 4, a random Dual Shock 4, a HDMI, a USB for the controller and the power cord, stuffed them into a backpack and headed to GameStop, home of the happiest employees ever.
I checked the website before going in, which indicated I would get $US100 ($131) cash or $US125 ($163) trade-in credit for the system. I realise I would get more selling it second-hand, but I needed the cash in my hand. GameStop was my best option.
So my friendly GameStop person checked out the system, tested it, reset the data and rang up my trade. It came out to $US125 ($163) trade-in credit, as expected, but only $US50 ($65) in cash, which is exactly not enough for the breakfast I had planned.
It turns out the controller I randomly grabbed had a problem. The rubber covering one of the analogue sticks had come off. That meant the entire system would be subject to a $US50 ($65) defect charge. The trade-in credit was much higher, as a promotion gave me an extra $US50 ($65). Damn. I thought about purchasing a used controller for the trade-in, but those were priced at right about $US50 ($65) anyway, so the benefit would be lost.
Then I remembered — GameStop sells gift cards for other places. They have a whole spinny thing filled with gift cards for restaurants, petrol stations, movie theatres, iTunes, Google Play, video streaming services, online game currency, you name it. Aside from petrol stations and online retailers like eBay, these cards can all be purchased for store credit.
$US50 ($65) in cash, or $US125 ($163) in gift cards? The choice seemed clear, at least to our now incredibly hungry selves.
While Emily and I sat on the floor of GameStop trying to figure out where to eat, we got some good news. Another GameStop employee had figured out how to swap out the controller for a non-nubless one. We could get the $US100 ($131) cash now!
Or $US175 ($229) in credit, and those gift cards were really nice. We found one for Olive Garden. Ooo, we'd not been to Olive Garden in forever. Befuddled by thoughts of endless breadsticks (a happy lie, all things end), we made our decision.
We would have gone to Red Lobster, but the last time we were there our house was robbed.
And so we walked into GameStop with a PlayStation 4 and walked out with $US75 ($98) at Olive Garden, $US40 ($52) in Dominos Pizza (for the kids), $US25 ($33) in Taco Bell for Emily (because I am romantic) and preorders for a couple of Switch games I would have been buying when I picked up my console anyway (Zelda and Bomberman).
Our Valentine's Day breakfast became Valentine's Day lunch, and it was excellent. I ate many things covered in red sauce, Emily wound up bringing home an entire bowl of endless salad in a to-go box, and we left our waiter a large, classy, left-over gift card credit tip. Plus we got to spend some quality alone time with two of our favourite people. All-in-all, I'd say it was a PlayStation 4 well-spent.
Did I mention the breadsticks were endless?
I'm re-buying it as soon as the tax return comes in.