Since the moment I left that craft store in Delhi, I’ve been on that high. You may know it if you’ve ever haggled your way to the price you want. It was a Friday night and the Chinese Vice President was visiting Delhi on official business. This normally wouldn’t matter to me, except that security was so tight that certain roads were closed thus bottle necking an entire city of 18,248,290. We had been exhausted from a week of visiting family and a party the night before. We decided to do a little bit of shopping and head right back to rest. A quick trip out maybe an hour at the most, we thought.
Our cab driver had convinced me to go to a shop where I could get better quality items than my original destination. I needed two items: meditation chimes for my yoga teacher and a necklace for my cousin. Both were requested. Once there we decided on a couple more things and I began my haggling. Fresh of the heels of watching my dad do it just the day before, I was ready to try my hand it more as a test than anything else. I had no idea that N actually wanted the runner. So I began and didn’t stop until all prices were decreased to my liking. Over and over I again, I reminded the salesperson that I wasn’t planning to come here, but only did because my driver said you and only you have the best quality! With each purchase, I got just a little bolder and more confident that I was going to get the price I want. I left the store with pride. I had acquired my true birth right that night. The true haggler would tell you that it’s quite addicting: this need to get the lowest price possible while using any and every manipulative tactic including “sir, I’m still young, I don’t have that kind of money.”
Since that night, albeit further exhausted from the game, I have felt just a little empty each time I shopped and paid full price. While it’s a whole melodramatic scene, it’s also exciting. Keep in mind I live in hyperboles. This is the world that makes the most sense to me. So in Paris, I paid full price while wondering what would happen if I haggled my way to a better price for those shoes that N bought or the skirt I purchased.
Then today, a mere nine days post India, the opportunity materialized. I needed to purchase a car. We had already shopped around before India, so we were ready. I sat down prepared with all my notes. My husband next to me attempting his version of it which of course I denounced as sub par. Each time the sales person came back, I kept wanting more and more and more. Until N looked into my eyes and reminded me that we needed to leave with a car today. The best part about haggling or negotiating has little to do with the product. It’s all a game of limbo–how low can you go? The other part is leaving the store always feeling just a little cheated because perhaps if you held out just a little longer you would’ve gotten just a little lower of a price.
Now I don’t know if I got the lowest price today, but I did get the best price…for America. This scenario would look very different in India.
Imagine this: INT. Car Dealership.
N and I sit in front of salesperson who refuses to discuss price until we’ve had chai or a soft drink. Once we are comfortable, he offers what he says is his best price.
To which I say: “No way sir, I can’t afford this!” (I grab my purse dramatically and pretend to leave extremely slowly.)
Car Salesperson: Madam, please sit, sit, sit let’s discuss this some more. Let me see what I can do. Let me get my—
Manager: (interrupts scene and pretends he hasn’t been watching it the whole time; scolds salesperson for not treating me well.) Madam what seems to be the problem here.
Me: Sir, we came here and have been coming to your shop only for decades now. My dad bought his last two cars here. His dad bought his first scooter here. We are loyal to your store. But this price is insulting to my family! Let me introduce myself. My name is ______. You know my father, I believe?
Manager: Oh, yes, yes Madam. Your father and I are great friends. He is a good man, very kind. Let me look at the price.
(Manager and Salesperson leave to discuss the price change in secret.)
N: (looks at me and shakes his head.)
Salesperson: Madam, my manager has given you a special price only for your family. No one else can get this price. Only your family. (Shows me the price now reduced by 5-10 percent.)
Me: Sir, I am only a teacher. I don’t make that much. Give it to me for 20% off.
Salesperson: Madam there is no way. We are already not getting a profit on this.
This scene could continue for at least an hour before one of us gives in. To know where the price started and where it ended makes you feel confident and powerful. You walk away always knowing that you got exactly what you want. No buyers remorse because you have spent over an hour sitting and accepting your decision over and over again.
So, drum roll please…I am officially a new car owner! My first in my life. It marks a milestone. Although the haggling was far from satisfying for the new addict that I’ve become, I am excited to see where my new Mazda CX 5 will bring me. I went from wandering to focused in my Camry. I wonder where I’ll go in this one.