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Mitey Fine

It’s a long story about how I found myself in Home Depot at 9:30 on a Saturday night looking for air filters, but that’s not important. What’s important is what I learned while I was there.

M texted me a photo of our worn-out air filter so I would know what kind to get, which was helpful because the filter aisle at Home Depot looks like the Great Wall of China. No wonder home improvement stores are so large. They need three acres just for the freaking air filters. I found the size we needed, which comes in a convenient, cost-effective three pack, and headed for the checkout.

And then I made the mistake of looking at the rest of the package.

The pack I grabbed had a lowly rating of 4 on the FPR. The FPR, for those of you who don’t know (I didn’t), is the Filter Performance Rating. There’s an FPR scale on the package that shows that filters at levels 4, 7, 9 and 10 offer various levels of, well, filterage. It’s a scale of filterocity, if you will.

Holy shit. I was about to the buy The Cheapest (read: Worst) Filter Available for my family. What’s the difference, my pocketbook screamed. Well, we better check it out, the worrywart countered.

I stopped and scrutinized the package. I’m wishing I hadn’t, because I like living in ignorant bliss where I think my house, while not perfect, is reasonably clean and free from general microscopic disgustingness. I don’t like to think about Airborne Dust Mite Debris if I can help it.

The filter I had in my hands would catch only dust/lint, the mite shit, pollen, and pet dander. The Best Filter Available – an FPR 10, naturally – catches all that, plus mold spores (gross), bacteria (ick), microscopic allergens (bless you), virus carriers (WTF), odor (?), smog particles (gasp), and most smoke (we don’t smoke, but after all this I might be tempted to just to calm my nerves). That’s a lot of nasty crap.

Even though one FPR 10 filter costs twice as much as three of the FPR 4 filters, I replaced the FPR 4 filter to the shelves and bought the FPR 10 filter and drove home wondering how many mold spores were at that moment circulating through the pulmonary system of my home, and therefore the pulmonary systems of my family. “I’m on my way, dear ones!” I thought. “This filter shall save us all!” I pondered my wisdom in reading all those words on the front of the package instead of merely glancing at the pictograms. It wasn’t just the mold spores that scared me, mind you. Dust mites give me the willies, and “virus carriers” sounds like we’re one decent filter away from the bubonic plague. It’s a good thing I stopped to read up on the Filter Performance Rating system before I killed my family.

Because I am an idiot, I Googled “dust mites” when I got home. Then, because I am a moron, I clicked on the “Images” tab. I was about ready to burn the house down and start over when I remembered that I am not an idiot after all, because I ponied up and purchased the FPR 10 filter, the Best Filter on the Market. We are all saved.

M installed our new FPR 10 filter, while I congratulated myself on being an informed consumer and on being able to proudly answer the question, “What kind of mother am I?” Why, the kind who knows that the health of her child is priceless and spares no expense for the wellbeing of her family! I sat on my dust mite-ridden couch in triumph. M returned upstairs and pointed out to me the fine print on the back of the filter package that says FPR is simply “The Home Depot Rating System.”

So what kind of mother am I? I’m the kind of mother who buys into Home Depot’s marketing trickery and shells out twice as much money for 2/3 fewer filters, that’s who.

Well played, Home Depot. Well played.

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