This place is crap.

There is a certain person in my life who says that whenever we go into any number of stores. It comes off as highly snobbish to me. The problem that I see with that saying is that most of these places huge and been around decades and tons of people shop there.

That means there is a difference between it being “crap” and “not for me.”

If something is as wildly successful as these places are, and you don’t like them, it’s at least worth understanding who does like them, why they like them, and also understand what it is you don’t.

Going back to this person in my life, they are almost never satisfied at any store. Nothing is good enough, the right price, the right style, etc. To the point that they have almost nothing they like at all.

This is a story of expectations. This person is looking for something made out of quality materials, by a craftsman or artist, but at a budget that certainly can’t justify the price of those. Since there is nothing that fits the constraints of their worldview, everything else is garbage to them.

To tie this into a mathematical sense of things, optimization is an easy problem to solve…when it’s one variable. Want a the most aerodynamic wing? Make it long and thin as possible. Want the cheapest wrench? Sort by price, select the cheapest?

In the real world, most problems are multi-objective. That means the best solution is a “space” rather than a “point.” What if you want a structurally sound, aerodynamic wing? Now, you are balancing the short, stubbiness of structural strength against the long, slenderness of aerodynamics. What if you want a cheap, but ergonomical wrench? Now, you are balancing the fact that your hand is a certain size and shape that not everybody has so they can’t mass produce them making them more expensive? So how do you balance which one fits you best vs. the cost? The better it fits you, the closer you get to custom which is expensive and the further from mass produced you become.

Finding the right amount of objectives and constraints is a significant challenge in life, but one worth thinking about at our jobs, in our relationships and in the rest of our lives.