Dollars to Donuts

Jeff-The-Hound brought up: “We all try to avoid plot holes in our own stories… but have you ever encountered one (or more) major plot holes in a book or movie that made you want to scream? Has it been serious enough to make you stop reading / viewing?”

IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME !

Anyone watching a movie or show with me may hear:

“Didn’t he just say/do…?”
“Wait a minute…”
“How did they get…?”

“What happened to…?”

And my biggest peeve: “Why didn’t he/she just tell the other person what really happened before they left the room???”

Those are safety valves for me when watching shows and movies. The Husband has recently taken to watching older shows in the evening and just restarted the original Star Trek series. Holy Cow! I had forgotten just how terribly inconsistent that otherwise often very amusing series could be. (The biggest lie Vulcans ever told was that they can’t lie!  Don’t get me started on warp-drive, the sexism and ageism in the episodes.)

As I read books, I seldom have someone else who read the book to sound off on and so, yes, I have been known to muffle a scream and/or quit reading.

The Husband hears some complaints anyway.

I have quite a number of books that are unfinished on my shelves, or in my Kindle library that I have tried to read and given up on, sometimes given extra chances to, (and had to stop again), to try again to get past a plot hole or multiple ones, but I can’t force myself to finish them.

I try to put these out of my mind. I don’t want to obsess on things that bother the living heck out of me.

I have addressed one aggravation of mine here before. I have to sit out on ‘cozy mysteries’ once in a while because of the one huge plot hole that is in almost every single one, which is this: The protagonist has moved to a small town and opened a business, although money is tight. Does anyone have any idea how hard it is to rent/buy a place, buy supplies, find help, GET CLIENTELE in any small business, let alone in a small town?

The protagonist may have a leg-up and inherited a business from a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or old family friend, so they have a place, furnishings, stock, equipment, what-have-you, but money is always short, or so we are told. YET, even with scarce money, they get supplies, stock, and can always hire help, help who is available at any time, so that the protagonist can follow up on their  hunches  about murderers, embezzlers, blackmailers, or whatever nefarious activities may be afoot.

Yeah, well, it doesn’t work that way.

 When it comes to food business, (in which many cozies are set), most eateries take three years before they begin to turn a profit. In a small town, a NEW eatery may or may not find regular customers, because people are used to the places that have always been around. There is often resentment about customers being taken away from the established places, since their old friends and family are basically their only customers. Even if some people like your stuff, would-be regulars don’t frequent  new places as much as even they would like because they are made to feel that they are disloyal, and are also taking money away from the town’s initial businesses.

It doesn’t have to be an eatery; the same would go for a clothing store or any other place of business in a small town where there is already any like establishment.

Even if the main character of a book inherits an established business from someone, it is always something cute like a yarn store, and again, it is bound to be in a small town and really, how do you make a living selling the narrow market of yarn, (or handmade jewelry, artificial flowers, or scrapbooking supplies or pet washing), let alone in a small town? A person has to eat, pay electricity, buy new stock and inevitably hire at least one clerk, the clerk who can be there to do nearly everything  necessary to  run the business on short notice, so the protagonist can run hither and dither to follow up on their suspicions.

If the shop/eatery is something ‘different’, people in small towns are slow to accept changes and don’t need whatever you offer enough to make a place profitable. Besides, they generally like an excuse to go to a city to shop, to have an excuse to buy, (and eat), somewhere different without recrimination.

Let me tell you this story:

A friend who owned a radio station in the far-flung  Washington, DC suburbs had considered buying  a station in New Mexico. The price was great, the transmitter large, the equipment and station were practically new, and so he went out with every intention of going for it. As he looked out of his airplane window while flying over station’s city on the way to land at the regional airport, he turned to his wife and said, “This is a mistake.”

He realized just by looking at the size of the town that he could not move there and make a go of a station. There would probably be only one car dealership, one real department store, one major food store, one main drug store, and one of nearly everything else. The other radio station in town would have sewn up the advertising dollars needed to run a station, since they were previously established. They had probably grown up and gone to school with the owners of the businesses that would advertise with them. Even if they had also been newcomers, they had beat my friend in and now they went to church with the business people, their kids played sports with the others’ children, they belonged to the same organizations. My friend and his wife looked at the station, but he knew that there was no sense in trying to make a success of it, so they flew home to look for other opportunities in bigger markets.

It comes down to dollar signs, every time.

The last two books that had the most ridiculous plot holes were romances/cozies that I put down within the first couple of pages.  The first had a girl with small business that was just getting off the ground and her friends were concerned that she was not going to be able to keep her business, or even her apartment, with its used furniture. They often invited her to lunch and dinner to make sure that she ate, and her relatives sent her home with leftovers.  However, every week she bought prodigious amounts of donuts for the volunteer staff of the organization to which she belonged and added many more dozens to distribute to the homeless.

Has anyone priced bakery donuts lately? Even Dunkin Donuts are about $10.00 a dozen, (plus tax), so if we are talking about a dozen dozen, it would be over $120.00 dollars a week, nearly $500.00 a month…on donuts, never mind that if she could afford that, she could also probably buy something more nutritious for the homeless for that kind of dough, (pun intended.)

People were close to buying donuts for her.

And then there was yet another donuts-for-the-homeless plot hole, (among others), in a story about a young woman who received consternation from her old friends and family for ‘wasting’ her brains and choosing to work as a waitress instead of going into business or research. Oh, but she made more money than most of her friends who took those courses in life because, (get this!), the restaurant PAID HIGH WAGES!!! Then, like that wasn’t enough, there were the implausible amount of rich  customers who loved her caring service and smile so much that they  gave her extravagantly high tips, which led to her having a great deal of disposable income.

UH-HUH, Yeah, SURE.

Obviously, no one in the publication of this work has any knowledge of the restaurant business at all.

If we could overlook those fantasies, this girl, with her high waitress earnings (!) had nice things, (like a great apartment, objet d’art, and great car that her friends envied), yet, the writer went on to say that the protagonist felt the need to “stretch her budget and make sacrifices” to buy donuts for the homeless every week.

Again, donuts for the homeless.

Did she have money or didn’t she?

I stopped reading.

 I simply could not take anymore,   and I didn’t even feel like I could drown my sorrow and splurge for donuts.

About Tonette Joyce

Tonette was a once-fledgling lyricists-bookkeeper, turned cook/baker/restaurateur and is now exploring different writing venues,(with a stage play recently completed). She has had poetry and nonfiction articles published in the last few years. Tonette has been married to her only serious boyfriend for more than thirty years and she is, as one person described her, family-oriented almost to a fault. Never mind how others have described her, she is,(shall we say), a sometime traditionalist of eclectic tastes.She has another blog : "Tonette Joyce:Food,Friends,Family" here at WordPress.She and guests share tips and recipes for easy entertaining and helps people to be ready for almost anything.
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8 Responses to Dollars to Donuts

  1. Jeff Salter says:

    Several great examples here. It sounds like you and I notice some of the same types of things.
    As for small, local businesses — a friend here opened a really nice breakfast and lunch place nearby. Prices were a bit higher than the fast-food joints, but the service was great — as was the food. Every time we drove by we saw cars, but the lot was never full… so they were not serving to capacity. We ate there as often as we could, but — as I said, it cost more and took more time. I think they were barely making it — possibly about to turn that corner you described — when CoVid hit. That was the last straw… and they closed, permanently. They’d done a beautiful job on the interior of their leased space, but just could survive the pandemic shut-downs.
    I know of another spot, also nearby, who took over an old diner which had been closed, then opened with new owners, then closed again. They seemed to be drawing in a good crowd when suddenly there was as sign on the door that the building didn’t pass some major inspection — presumably infrastructure — and it was beyond their means to do the retro-fit. Gone.
    Another example of a place we sampled many times, under 3 or 4 different names / owners… with each changeover, there was a period of being closed. At this point I can’t even tell you what the current name is… only that it will change in a few months (if it’s still open at all).

    Like

    • Location, location, location, Jeff, for real estate and businesses. Eateries are much more expensive to run than most people realize, and more work. The cleaning alone is time consuming and expensive. Although you can buy many supplies and ingredients wholesale, getting a good price on smaller orders than chains can get in bargain quantities is impossible, hence the ability to have lower prices.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Patricia Kiyono says:

    I think you must have done an internship with Siskel and Ebert. Are you a member of the National Book Critics Circle?

    Like

  3. Elaine Cantrell says:

    I don’t think I’ve read any of those books, but if I did I’d probably just suspend disbelief and keep reading. That is, if the story was interesting.

    Like

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