|Very closely related to my idea about liking other people's stuff, I tend to place a high price tag on reliability.
I'm a big fan of chain restaurants (Applebee's and Outback being my favorites). From a "trying-to-be-cultured" perspective, this isn't very cool. I should have the desire to eat at a little hole in the wall, or I should be willing to try that new Thai place. But based on my countless experiences of disappointment when trying new things, I don't try new things. I'm more than happy with something I can count on. And chain restaurants give me food that I can count on. If I order a steak from an Outback in California, it'll taste exactly the same as the steak I get at an Outback in New Jersey. That's reliability. There's no guess work or bad decisions. You know what you're getting before you walk through the door.
A few years ago, I met a guitar player who bought all his guitars from "little guys" who made guitars in their own private workshops. These weren't name-brand guitars, and they probably wouldn't even be recognized outside of the area of the country they were made/bought in. He said it was good to buy guitars like this because you're supporting a niche industry, you're getting a hand-made top-quality product, and you're not helping the "big guys" like Musician's Friend and Guitar Center. His rationale sounded good, and he almost convinced me. But his argument wore off after I went to several different guitar stores and played several different kinds of guitars. I found that most guitar brands are pretty reliable: You know what you're getting as soon as you pick it up. If you pick up a Martin, (in my opinion) you're playing an over-priced, over-rated piece of unfinished wood that smells like a freshly cut piece of timber (that last part is a compliment). And if you pick up a Taylor, you're playing an expensive instrument made of expensive materials that's made to an extremely high standard of quality. But no matter what model you pick up or what store you're in or what state you're in, you can always count on these things being true. If I buy a guitar from Joe's Guitar Shack down the street, I can't count on his ability to replicate his own work. If anything, I would expect his work to be somewhat varied as a result of him fine-tuning his skills over time. But brands like Martin, Taylor, Fender, Gibson? These things have been around for decades. They know what they're doing. That's reliability. #food