Wednesday 2 November 2011


There is a real art to the bargaining process. Entire countries can hang their hat proudly on the craft. Me, I’m horrendous at it (and yet I loooove a bargain. Go figure). I suppose that plays in part to being a screenwriter – after writing for free for so many morons over the years, you forget what a paycheck looks like, not to mention how to negotiate for one. I’m also a reformed Catholic (very reformed), and hence, I have residual and innate guilt (for just about everything) that I can’t seem to shift. Hence, if we’re talking about bargaining when it comes to the little things in life, I feel like an jackass fighting over a few dollars.

For some people bargaining is a sport; they welcome it, they relish it, and they froth at the bit for that dance that takes place between individuals in the midst of a negotiation. My partner is one of these people (in fact, I have a suspicion that men as a whole love to bargain). He loves the dance, and he’s good at it. He treads in gently, uses that English politeness just at the right moment to deflect any discomfort and then adds in a dash of charm just when he’s probably pissing off the person on the other end of the equation. Meanwhile, I’m practically under the coffee table squealing, ‘oh come on, it's fine, just take the offer!'

Most of the time I try not to be anywhere near the negotiating process; in fact, if we are in a store and I see that look in his eye that he's about to try and knock them down, I have been known to run out of the store like some headless lunatic. [Once I even got caught in a charity shop with my friend as she proceeded to haggle over an item of clothing. The proceeds of the sale went to charity. You have never seen me move that fast]. Of course, when it comes to my partner, he has gone through every angle of it with me in hopes of getting me to see the need for the bargaining process; his favorite explanation: ‘but babe, do you realize the markup they put on things? It's just not right.’ (Um, yes I do, but that’s why I eBay and buy things on sale. I can avoid the whole process altogether  – a wise answer I think).

It’s not that I’m opposed to bargaining or negotiating (a far prettier word); I just don’t want to be the one who has to do it. I can put in my opinion from the sidelines, give moral support, and encourage people to stand firm…just don’t put me in the game because I’ll end up undoing all your good work and will pay more than the asking price. It’s not that I’m not a team player; I’m just a much better cheerleader.

Sometimes I surprise myself [usually if I'm in one of those moods where I'm tired and I just don't care if I offend people (it happens)]. I feel my stomach churning and I get that feeling of, ‘oh god am I really going to do this,’ and then I hear the hesitant question out of my mouth for a lower price…they of course come back with an offer that I accept readily and I feel like I’ve tasted proper victory. This makes my partner laugh as I have usually only knocked them down a fraction of what I could have. 

Now don’t get me wrong, there are some instances where I am actually brilliant at negotiating; I’ve got the gift of the gab and I am no pushover if something really matters to me. Usually it pertains to things on the domestic front (taking out the trash or changing a diaper - totally non-negotiable!), or when dealing with truly unctuous creeps (like landlords brokers) that make a living taking advantage of the common individual. But on the smaller matters, I happily leave that to those that have the time and inclination to spend twenty minutes fighting over two dollars. Happy bargaining, sportsmen.
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