Every once in a while, life will challenge you with a question. Not only does this question require an answer, but regardless of the choice you make, you know that it will have a profound impact on your life. Thankfully, it is infrequently that we are burdened with such decisions, but we must still be vigilant so that we may ponder and puzzle and appropriately pick a plan when the need arises. Recently, one of these decisions was thrust upon my shoulders, and it came to me in the following form:
Hey Brandon, would you like a couch? A friend of mine has a new one they don't need anymore.
Ok, maybe I was being a bit dramatic initially, but I've learned that living in a truck changes where your priorities lie. For example, if I lived in an apartment, chances are I would have simply said yes. A free, new piece of furniture for my (likely) sparingly furnished (imaginary) apartment would be a nice addition. It's especially hard to argue with the free part. However, I don't live in an apartment, so there were some considerations to be had. So, as I am one to do in the face of adversity, I made a list of pros and cons.
I'd been considering getting a couch even before one was offered to me on a silver platter. These are the reasons why I was even thinking about it in the first place.
- Sprucing up the place. As evident from this post, I still have a ton of free space, my truck is a pretty spartan affair. Adding a new piece of furniture could add some Feng Shui to the whole situation.
- Chill space. I'm not in the truck frequently, and I especially don't have people over frequently. That said, it does sometimes happen, and I'd like it to be a pleasant experience when it does. A couch would make it easier for a couple friends to come over and hang out. Or I could always come to them with my chill pad, that's a weird perk.
- It's just more homey. This is in line with the above points. People are always telling me that the truck doesn't look particularly welcoming. Naturally, that's not the goal, the goal is to have a comfortable place to sleep. Adding in a couch would definitely help to diffuse the "unwelcoming vibes".
- Free! It doesn't cost anything! You really can't beat just being handed a free, new couch.
Sounds pretty good, right? What sort of drawbacks could there possibly be? As it turns out, putting the couch in a truck changes the equation a little bit.
- Free? In a house, the couch would be free. In a truck, I pay for the cost of the couch in reduced gas mileage. As it turns out, I have to drive everything I own around every time I pull out of a parking spot. I don't drive around all that much, as I've undoubtedly mentioned before, but I'm still toting around my bed and bureau every time I do, which is less efficient than if I didn't own those things. How much less efficient, you ask? Well, looking at this comic, which references this conversation, which (finally) links to this tool, it looks like a car takes about a 0.5% hit to fuel economy for every 50 pounds added to it. Time to make some assumptions. Let's assume that I get 10 miles per gallon, gas costs $3.50, and the sofa bed weighs 150 pounds (thanks Ikea). Since we're adding 50 pounds three times over (150/50 = 3), that means we're taking the 0.5% hit three times, which means we're operating at ~98.5% efficiency (100*0.9953). So if I were to drive 1,000 miles, without the couch I'd use 100 gallons of gas. With the couch, I'd use 101.5 gallons. Wait a second, that's not even that much worse, that's like $5 extra for every 1,000 miles I drive. I expected it to actually be a lot, my bad.
- Empty space, for now. I mentioned above that I have tons of free space, and that's entirely true. However, I don't know how my needs are going to change in the future, and adding a couch does take away like ~15% of the free space that I do have. It's good to keep the extra space, if for no other reason than to be flexible.
- Bug food. I'll eventually dedicate a whole post to this, but in essence: there are enough diverse species of bugs around that there is at least one genetically-engineered to be an eating machine for each and every material in existence. This especially includes cloth, which there will undoubtedly be a ton of in a couch. The last thing I want is a micro-ecosystem thriving in the depths of my couch.
With the sudden realization that owning the couch costs me like $5 every 1,000 miles, I'm almost regretting not getting it, because that was my biggest concern. Oh well, you live and you learn.