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Faux Outrage

Literally the most important blog in the universe since 2010.

Hello, March.  It’s good to see you!

Goodbye, February.  And I don’t mean to offend you, February, but good riddance.

To be honest, February, you frustrate me, and not just because it takes me two or three tries to spell you correctly.  I can even look beyond the unnecessarily cold shoulder you show us on each of your days, or the fact that you are objectively the least interesting month in sports.  I’m not bitter about Valentine’s Day (except for the fact that folks rarely apostrophize [ed. note: actual word!] the holiday), and do not object to your dedication to a better understanding of black history.  I like you, February, but for all of your positive qualities, you will always — at a fundamental level — be one thing to me.

The month when the cost of living in my apartment is about 8% more than normal.

Explanation?  Sure.

(Beware!  Sixth Grade Math lurks!)

Let’s say your rent is $1,000 per month.  (Apparently, you do not live in your own apartment in DC.) This means that you pay $12,000 annually to live in your humble abode.  There are 365 days in a year, so we can determine that it costs you about $32.88 per day to live in your unit.  Also, there are 12 months in a year so we know that there are about 30.42 days in each month.

Depending on the month, your cost per day fluctuates.

January (31 days) / Rent $1,000 / Cost per day: $32.26 / 😀

Average Month (~30.42 days) / Rent $1,000 / Cost per day: $32.88 / 🙂

April (30 days) / Rent $1,000 / Cost per day: $33.33 / 😐

February (28 days) / Rent $1,000 / Cost per day: $35.71 / 😦

This means that it costs you about 9.7% more to live in your apartment in February than it does in January or any of the other months with 31 days (Math alert! [(35.71-32.26)/35.71]*100 = 9.66) and 6.7% more in February than in April or any of the other months with 30 days (More math! [(35.71-33.33)/35.71]*100 = 6.66).

Overall, each day of rent in February costs about 7.9% more than an average day of the year (Still more math! [(35.71-32.88)/35.71*100] = 7.92).

And that sucks.

Ergo, February sucks.

(Even in a leap year.)

Of course, the Heroes of Non-Confrontation among us will sigh and say, “So what, Zach?” And before I am allowed to muster a reply they will abruptly add, “It all evens out in the end, so it’s just a whole lot easier to just have a standard payment every month.  Suck it up.”

Absurd!  I will not ‘suck it up’!

Why?

Because it’s stupid, you see.

It doesn’t make any sense to pay for rent on a “monthly” schedule because “a month” is not a standard unit of time!

Months are social constructs that are perfectly useful when specificity is unimportant (e.g., “We went to Costa Rica a few months ago and here is a boring slideshow of our trip and by the way we’re out of beer and there is a rabid raccoon outside our front door.”) but are a special kind of unhelpful when a specific date is central to the statement being made.

For example: Let’s say you have a gambling problem (“My problem is that I lose!”).  And let’s also say that your bookie has a gambling problem (“My problem is that if I don’t collect debts from my family’s mob-connected gambling operation, the don, who is quite powerful and has been known to murder people — even those close to him like myself — for reasons related to uncollected debts, will not be satisfied and thus I have a strong and vested interest in collecting this particular debt that you owe!”).

One morning, this bookie says to you, “You know that debt you owe me?  Bring me $5,000 in cash to my front door at sunrise exactly one month from now or I will break your kneecaps — and then I will murder you because of the pressures I feel from my family that are best summarized in the television series The Sopranos. My life is much more complicated than you suspect.  Anyway, as I stated earlier, please bring me the money in exactly one month.”

The current date: January 30th, 2012.

What morning do you show up?

(As it turns out, February can even get you killed.)

We treat “month” to mean something very specific when the reality is that “a month” is about as specific as “a few.”  When someone says “a month,” what they are actually conveying is “an amount of time equal to or greater than 28 days but not greater than 31 days and never 29 days except for once every four years.”

Not very helpful.

Because we often value convenience over logic, as a society, we have all decided to agree to ignore this month-as-fluctuating-variable problem when it comes to payment plans (or anything else that is done “every month” on the same day).  “It probably works out in the end” is a weird response to a math problem with an actual answer that impacts millions of people in our society (renters), right?

Furthermore, it should be noted that in the actual universe, it rarely ever “works out” for renters/landlords. Yearly leases often turn to month-to-month leases that are eventually terminated on a month not matching up with the original “ending” month.  Does the rent change on that last month depending on how many days it has?

Of course not.

Sometimes the renter wins the “average cost per day” battle (such as in the case where the lease operates from December 1, 2009 to February 1, 2011), and sometimes the landlord wins (e.g., February 1, 2011 to March 1, 2012), but in each of the situations the one underlying truth is that the scales of justice are arbitrarily (though not randomly!) tipping back and forth.

Goodbye, February.

And good riddance.

Postscript o’ optimism: Your life just got a little bit cheaper!  Your rental cost per day in March is almost 2% less than average!

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