Monday, June 16, 2008

How to negotiate

When I was 21 I headed off to Morocco with the intention of finding my soul and purpose...and to be close to a Spanish boyfriend. I only lasted four weeks there.

While it was actually the dysentery that did me in, I probably only would've made it another week or two in any case, as I quickly grew very tired at having to bargain every time I went into the market.

I'm a horrible negotiator, and when the guys in the souk saw me coming for my daily bread, they'd quadruple their price rather than do their standard 2x mark-up for a Westerner.

But on this recent trip to Israel I figured it all out: just act stupid and stare at the shopkeeper as though you are a very stupid cow.

To illustrate: I spotted these layered, Jello-esque sugary things in a stall in Jerusalem and pointed to them while holding up one finger. The man showed me a five shekel piece. So then I took two, handed him the five shekel piece, and then stood there, as if waiting for change. He also stood there, expecting me to give him another coin.

So we stood there.

And stood there.

And even when he made funny gestures with his hands I continued to look at him, eyes wide, pretending I did not understand what it could possibly mean if someone waves a coin at you and hold up two fingers.

Eventually someone else came up to the stall and he gave up on me. Meanwhile, I walked away feeling quite triumphant, having saved the equivalent of ten cents on my sugary treat.

P.S. You might think I should not have engaged in this brand of passive bargaining, as that man was no doubt in greater need of my shekel than I was. Yeah, that's probably true. But I'd also like to point out that these sugary things really weren't very good anyway. And don't pretend you wouldn't have done the same.

1 comment:

C.L. said...

Haggling is a hoot huh? I wish I had learned that techique in Italy! Oh well, if I ever go back, I will have you to thank for my fortune saved :) Great blog!