things to think about

today, briefly, i am thinking about: BARGAINING.
May 14, 2009, 12:40 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

On the one hand, bargaining is a sign of consumer savvy. It is a skill I aspire to. It is a sign you know what is going on. You know yr prices and you aren’t a sucker. I come from a people very proud of bargaining prowess – the jews – a people who argue from the beginning. I use the phrase “jewing you down” with a not uncomplicated pride.

On the other hand that pride is hard to foster when you are afraid of appearing poor. Like you can’t pay. In a consumer culture where being able to buy what you want – being able to afford things – is synonymous with worth, it’s hard to bargain like you have to.

On the other hand, bargaining culture exists in most of the world. Even in nyc it exists, albeit not usually (is my perception) in english. Certainly not in my clear English, accented from nowhere that will mark me as broke, as new, as fresh off the boat. To bargain you know Yiddish or Chinese or Spanish or Russian. Me, I should pay retail.

On the other hand, I hate getting pegged a sucker. I obsessively comparison shop. I know good and bad prices for things.

On the other hand, I still feel strange that I don’t have to bargain after all. My friend said “oh, let me put you on the list” for a show a few weeks ago. “I can pay,” I said, “it’s nice to be able to pay.”

On the other hand, is that the pride of growing up or the pride of being a good consumer? What does it mean that the two are intertwined?

My people busted their ass so that I might not learn how to bargain for a meal or a thing. They succeeded. I feel challenged by that; I need these skills to get a good deal, to fight back against mindless and dependent consumption, and to get a good deal. Would Gramma Becky, who came all this way, really want her great-granddaughters to be patsies? I can’t imagine so.

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