by Frank “Dart” Giger
Most simulation guys are, well, guys. Yes, there are some female simulation enthusiasts, and they are a force to be reckoned with online, but by and large the average simulation hobbyist is male, older than 25, and more than likely married. He is usually better educated than the general population (either formally or informally), and is better off financially.
The simulation nut has disposable income with which to upgrade his computer with not only internal components, but peripherals such as TrackIR’s, HOTAS setups, driving wheels, and rudder pedals. The simulation guy is the one buying the eighty dollar (or more) headsets with microphone so that he can fly and talk late at night without disturbing the wife and kids.
Single guys, of course, don’t have to quibble over whether or not to get the X52 PRO; they either have the money and the desire, or they don’t. Period.
We married people (and that includes those who are permanently shacked up with a “significant other”) don’t have the luxury of such binary thinking. Assuming that the bills are paid, the fridge is stocked, and there’s a little on the side that can fit whatever doo-dad the flight sim guy wants, there is still the matter of the Comptroller.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word Comptroller as:
Etymology: Middle English, alteration of countreroller controller
1: a royal-household official who examines and supervises expenditures
2: a public official who audits government accounts and sometimes certifies expenditures
The Comptroller may not be able to stop the purchase of a two hundred US dollar set of rudder pedals, but they can examine, supervise, audit, and withhold certification the heck out of the purchase after the fact. It can have all the joy of an IRS audit; she’s not saying you did anything wrong, just that you should open up the books and look closely at where all the money is going and discuss, in detail, why such a purchase was necessary.
One can avoid trouble by getting the purchase order past the Comptroller before committing the funds. In our household, we have an agreement to notify (at a minimum) each other when spending more than 100 dollars on any one item. I err on the side of caution, however, and usually put a 50 USD flag on my “goofy computer” purchases.
Over the years of marriage, I have found a few techniques (slightly embellished here) that are not only effective in getting rock solid approval, but are fun to use:
The “Declaration of Intent” Approach
The most direct of means, it is also the most open for negotiation.
“I’m buying a new TrackIR.”
“What’s wrong with the one you have now?”
“It’s not the TrackIR 4 PRO.”
“Is it broken?”
“No, I’m assuming it will be new in the box and fully functional when it arrives.”
“Don’t be a smart… I meant the one you have now.”
“No, it works okay. But the TrackIR 4 PRO works better.”
“They don’t call it the ‘PRO’ in all capital letters for nothing.”
“Ha-ha. How much does it cost?”
“Under 200 bucks with the tracking clip. Plus shipping.”
“Can’t you wait until next month?”
And thus the dance begins. I rarely use this technique because it’s so straight forward and unsubtle. I save up my Declarations of Intent for maximum impact; if I’m saying “I’m buying this,” she knows I’m dead set on it in the short term.