Wednesday, March 29, 2006
For a few pennies less..
A scene with a vegetable vendor outside one’s house:
That lady with her basket, recounting her already complete shopping list: “So, how much for that half kg of cabbage, one kg of potatoes, one kg of tomatoes and blah blah..”
The already tired vendor awaiting what’s coming his way: “54 rupees amma..”
Lady meditating for a while, “Hmmm…round it up and keep it as 50 rupees..”
The Vendor : “No Amma, this won’t work out..”
Lady, kind of heating up: “What it won’t work out? In the market, it’s so much cheaper..”
In the meantime, Hubby Sir thrusts a 50 rupee note in the vendor’s hands and demands that ‘some little’ coriander leaves and curry patha be dropped into the bag. Free of cost, of course.
The vendor sighs deeply and the couple walk away mumbling about the supposed ‘unreasonableness’ of the vegetable fellow!
Well, that’s how it is and I wonder why it ought to be this way! Why is it that, almost always, we land up crying our throats hoarse over a rupee or two, as if there was an undeniable edict to take the chance and do so every time? This so surprises me; what’s with a vegetable vendor or a flower vendor or any roadside vendor’s face that immediately sends alert signals to the brain and gears it up for further action? Does the jingle of couple of pennies more, bestow such an extraordinary sense of delight to the greedy ears?
Ask that Mr.Hubby, when he walks into a well established showroom to pick up the latest DVD player, if he would bargain for a couple of hundreds less than the “MRP”. Nay, aren’t we the class that shuts up our mouths in an environment that is ordained to see only decent behaviour of the species that walks into it? Forget that, would he even think twice before paying that price as much as he would to pay for a kilo of tomatoes? Our dear lady wouldn’t be any exception. She goes awfully (or awesomely??) silent when inside a silk sari shop with the most exquisite range in terms of saris and price, of course!
It’s a funny game you know. Vendors who are lucky enough to become shopkeepers because they have a modest looking 400 X 400 floor area with four walls and a roof on top, ensure they nail a “Fixed price, no bargain” at a very visible point in the shop. But some of our shoppers are smart enough, that they become selectively blind to ignore such, what they consider hapless moves. They land up bargaining there, getting all worked up, despite a board, screaming in bold white, against a red – “Fixed Price, no bargain”!
Vendors who know not what to do, hike up the price so that it comes down to the actual price after bargaining and some of them openly admit that the rate you ask is the cost price of the thing you want to buy. And we are cool liars, aren’t we? We argue and hold that we have checked out the same stuff in other shops and it’s way cheaper there and we would rather buy it there. Then one employs the next weapon – the act of walking away. We are masters at throwing frosty nosed stares at those chaps and if you are lucky the vendor shouts after you to come back and tries his best for a ten buck profit till the last minute. We meanwhile, stubbornly shake our heads in a most decisive ‘no’ and the packet does land reluctantly in your hands! Be glad with that sense of achievement and party for that wonderful feeling!
Only if your expectations turn the other way round and the vendor politely asks you to get lost citing your unreasonable demand as a reason! You walk away fretting and fuming and cursing the man, achievement and failure all compounding one’s already skewed, out –of-proportion ego! If by any chance, desire wins over ego, we do walk back to claim our dream thingy, at the price he proposes! Oh, why at all?
Yeah, yeah, all that argument about quality, long lasting stuff and brand name and all those Uncle Sam terms are all fine! May be then, you don’t go to those folks down in the streets and haggle with them over a couple of bucks. Well, this isn’t big money anyways. Leaving all logical reasoning aside, it’s more of a humane concern to help them lead their lives. Those guys let you bargain, unlike shops, because they hardly have a choice. After all, they are men who fight for a hand to mouth existence.
So, what do I propose? (Ah well, I almost feel like standing in front of a distinguished scientific fraternity to present a crucial finding that occurred halfway through one’s sleep! :D) I merely say, let’s apply some discretion and employ those grey cells to do a little bit of sensible thinking before we open our mouths to start an (indecent?) proposal! The problem is, we take a chance, toss the coin quite needlessly, most of the time!