Friday, July 21, 2017

"You Have To Ask For It!"


After weeks of unrelenting heat, winds, minor and nearly major dust storms and a car that while washed awhile ago accumulated dust the very day it was last washed, I decided that it needed a good cleaning inside AND out. I took it to the local car wash where we have had differences in the past over missing items but I wanted it cleaned well for a trip tomorrow, yet needed to get some grocery shopping done and be home in time for the air conditioner technician. It was another frustrating day talking to brokerages and lawyers and I was beat already ... and, it was only 10 a.m.
   Going in to pay I asked, just because, "Is there a senior discount?" "Sure," came the reply. "Really," I said? "Sure, you just have to ask for it."
   Growing up in the 50's I can remember the reluctance of anyone to ask for a discount; I think my Grandmother called it haggling with a certain tone of disgust in her voice. No one did. Now, that didn't stop them for looking for the best deal, reading the weekly grocery ads OR not getting their Green Stamps but you paid the sticker price. 
Don't you believe it. This reminds me of my science teacher in 
high school whose slogan was keep your mouth shut so you
don't embarrass yourself asking a stupid question! If that is
true why bother to go to school?
   When my mother moved to New Mexico when I was in college, we made several trips over the border into Juarez. I can remember friends telling us that you never, ever paid the asking price! When asked what to pay they said replying something in the range of 50 - 66% lower than asking and then bargaining from there. I never got the hang of it but my mom sure did.
   On my own in Africa I got a little better but I was intimidated by the fact they were so poor and, to them at least, I was a king with abundant things ... things they would never have. I sent my houseboy out to do the dirty work. He was relentless too!
   After I married I had a wife that was a supreme bargainer. I always felt uncomfortable and she would have me leave the area while they got down to "brass tacks." I usually got what I wanted for a price that was nowhere near the original asking and so I was content to put the onus on someone else.
Right on!
   Moving out to the desert and living alone again with not much money changed my mind.  Places like Walmart, Big Lots, Aldi, even the 99¢ store became my haunts. And somehow, I was able to create a decent enough home that looked lived in and was comfortable with very little money!
   Meeting a Chinese friend who lived in Hong Kong, and another mainland Chinese friend who lived in Palm Springs with his husband, they both taught me, finally, to ask, just ASK! I watched them do it and even when you think there's no hope, time after time, there was. The Chinese friends husband is like me ... reluctant to bargain and lets his spouse, who is never ashamed to ask, to do the dirty work. Shopping with Tony or Qiang is a life changing experience.
Why pay more than you really want?
As we get older, we really do eat less!!!
   Living in Hong Kong is very, very expensive. My mainland friend while working there was signed up with everyone and was always getting "deals" on his iPhone that he could use. Several times I got things there cheaper than I could even get here! He would get coupons for clothes, meals, trips ... all kinds of things. After that harrowing experience in the Walmart store in Shenzhen (Black Friday is everyday in China) where items are even more expensive, I understood.
   Asian customers come by the busload to the Cabazon Outlets 30 minutes from where I live. They roll empty suitcases around that they fill with things to take home. My mainland Chinese friend could buy 4 Brooks Brothers polo's here for what it cost for one in Hong Kong! In fact when he visited me here, at one point, I looked around and got deja vu ... look, look I said. He looked around and finally said, what? Now remember we were in California at an outlet mall. "I am the only white person here! Its like being in a mall in Hong Kong." He looked again and laughed, agreeing with me. They KNOW a bargain when they see one! Why shouldn't we?
   So you might consider, at any age though older might be better, ask for a discount ... anywhere. There are deals and sales not advertised that the clerk knows about. In fact at just about any store there are deals even on the sale items. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO ... IS ASK FOR IT! You'll be glad you did.

Thank you for reading my blog. I invite you to take the time to read earlier blogs where the emphasis is to explore the ways art and design affects our daily lives ... and always have. I share with you what inspires me with the hope that it will inspire you as well. Comments are always welcomed! Be sure to check my ETSY store ...

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