Not sure when the 'rules' went hard and fast on this but we seem to have always had a tradition in this country of haggling over the price of cars. Ironically, it's this back and forth about the price of cars that so puts me off of buying one. Whenever I've needed to purchase a car, I've asked my neighbor Eric, who's as close to being a friend as I seem to allow, who works selling cars, to be my salesman. He is very comfortable with this arrangement pointing out that many of us have a doctor and a clergyman and an investment advisor, so it stands to reason for a major purchase like a car, we'd have an auto salesman. In addition to his unrelenting honesty, I think I also appreciate his kindness in NOT mentioning I'm too stiff-necked to have a clergyman and too poor to ever need an investment advisor. I rely on him to do the best he can for me and his employer and for over a decade, I think he has.
I hate shopping anyway for anything at anytime. Clothes? Get five of the same style and color, as long as it's one you like that fits. Shirts, trousers, blouses, dresses-it's all the same. And ditto for shoes. There are rules about black shoes and brown shoes, if I understand my wife correctly (I rarely do on anything else but maybe this time?) so buy two pairs of each, one that slips-on and one that you tie up. Socks? Lots of white socks and lots of black socks. One of my heroes, Ray Davies, seems to always wear white socks, and that's good enough for me. If I'm going to a grown-up meeting, my wife will lay out black socks and insist that I wear them. How can you not love someone who knows you for whom you truly are and still loves you? Amazing stuff.
I don't haggle with the people in the grocery store, though there are times I wish I could or would. I'm buying Seabrook Farms creamed spinach yesterday and, per box, it's $2.99. I guess with the cost of energy going through the roof, there's the double whammy of the rising cost of cream and the rising cost of spinach to account for. So when I read in the New York Times this morning that in places like Home Depot and Best Buy it's becoming informal company policy to negotiate with customers on products, I arch an eyebrow.
I'm the kind of guy who would pursue the best possible price on Rickie Lee Jones' The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard (turns out this entry is an Easter Sunday item. Talk about moving in mysterious ways, eh?) but I picked it up yesterday in a Borders' store for $15.98 plus sales tax-the same shop two weeks ago where I bought Ian Hunter's Shrunken Heads. The two places I usually shop for music don't even have locations anymore for these two, or The Kinks, come to think of it, but do have bins for the Pussycat Dolls (and if we don't buy as much of this crap as we should, remember: the terrorists win) so I'm intrigued that I could go to a Home Depot and bargain for the best price on two by fours or concrete blocks or shingles. That, in my house, I'm not allowed to touch ANY of the tools because I don't know what to do with them, and can't tell the difference between tools, is of no consequence. American entrepreneurial ingenuity has moved the bazaar into the mall.
You may be tempted to sell your soul for thirty pieces of silver, but hold on-let's see if we get a better offer, okay?