Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008
Supply and Demand vs. Capital Overhead for Ice Cream Trucks
A short entry for today. I was up all night writing for a ‘real world’ project so someone other than me could take a vacation without hell breaking loose. (You don’t want that; hell is very messy.)
Here is a recap from last night’s dinner conversation between my wife, my 4-year-old daughter and myself.
Daughter: "Why do ice cream trucks play music?"
Mom: "So people know the ice cream truck is outside."
Dad straying: "How much do you think gas prices will raise the price of ice cream?"
Daughter: "Why will that [gas prices] make a difference?"
Dad launches into a long, strained explanation about increased delivery costs eating into your profit margin, followed by Dad frequently asking his daughter, "Does that make sense?"
Daughter: "Yeah. They could just drive electric trucks."
Mom: "I bet they use a lot of gas to keep a generator powering the freezer that keeps the ice cream cold."
Dad: "Run the freezer off the car battery."
Mom: "Perhaps more people will be at home because of the high gas prices, so more ice cream will be sold. Quantity will offset the need to raise prices. You’ll have a smaller profit margin, but you’ll move more units."
Does the freezer really run off a gas-powered generator and not the truck while the engine is running? Maybe they play the music in order to mask the generator’s awful noise.
Sometimes I wonder how much our daughter picks up on the meaning of what we say. Other times I figure it doesn’t matter because she is learning to infer the meaning of words based on how they are used in sentences.
For me, the golden moment in the dinner conversation was my daughter suggesting electric vehicles as a solution. Earlier in the day we had discussed electric vehicles and the idea that if she grows up to have children of her own, she’ll be able to tell them she remembers when people used take their cars to gas stations.
I grabbed our 1978 edition of Richard Scarry’s Postman Pig and His Busy Neighbors to look for a drawing to illustrate that last point. I could have used Busy Town’s milkman, a secretary typing on a typewriter, a switchboard operator, a film camera shop, a TV repair shop, a shoe repair shop or the town newspaper’s linotype operator. You non-journalism majors know what a linotype machine is, right? Instead I settled on a timeless ice cream truck. Uh, timeless?