I am aware of my limitations. I think of it as a healthy dose of reality in today’s age of braggarts and phonies that if someone says to me “You aren’t smart” I can happily admit that I am not a rocket scientist and that the reason that I tip a lot or not much is because I’m terrible at math, and working out percentages makes my brain cry.
Knowing your limitations is a good thing, for instance I know that I am a good cook. I know I am relatively funny, and I know I am abysmally un-musical. So I can bake you a cake, try to make you laugh, and hurt you with my caterwauling.
This weekend I came face to face with another limitation that I had previously no knowledge about. I haggle incredibly badly. I think the problem is I am at my rudest with people I like and trust. The old adage “familiarity breeds contempt” is spot-on in my case. I tell obscene jokes to my 70-year-old father, and we laugh like drains. I say truly soul-crushing things to my best friends because I can get away with it. And when someone jumps in front of me in the check-out queue at the mini-mart, I stay silent, placid and polite.
That really should have been the clue that I was going to be godawful at haggling. I’m not terribly respectful of people in general; I deem respect as something earned. BUT manners and politeness are the measure of a good person. Not being a dick, is how we distinguish ourselves from the douchebags and skimpyskirtedslut gang. To people I don’t know, I am courteous, thoughtful and generous. It doesn’t mean I like them, it’s just how I was raised.
Let me set the scene. Saturday I spent baking and cooking my little heart out. Just to let you know, I made Brushetta, and cold cuts for starter, roast duck with forest mushrooms and roast potatoes for the main, and red velvet cake for dessert, everyone over-ate, as is my style of cooking. The dinner itself was pretty good, I made dinner for seven and then got blind drunk and stayed up watching videos of animals in people clothes and Fringe until 5a.m. God knows why, but my drunken self has some weird ideas.
Regardless of sleep deprivation my body-clock rang at 9a.m. and I got up feeling like something had died, and was going through a late stage of decomposition inside my skull. Add to this the stabbing pain I was experiencing in my kidneys and liver and you can visualize how my day should have gone. I SHOULD have stayed in bed and recovered. BUT I DIDN’T. I got up and did the washing up of 7 plates and 7 dessert plates, and oodles of cutlery. I cleaned the wine cellars worth of bottles off the tables. And then I made breakfast. After a couple of hours I recalled promising to go to a flea market the night before.
As my flea-marketing buddy had been present at the debauchery fest the night before I sent a message asking whether the plans still held for the day. They did indeed. So I cleaned myself and gathered my shaking, sweating, nauseous bones together and walked the 15 minutes to the agreed meeting point. Never has fresh air done more for a person. By the time I arrived I had stopped sweating, the film of grey had begun to lift from my eyes, and my kidneys had stopped throbbing inside my body, although my liver was still doing a square dance for no apparent reason.
We met up and walked down to the flea market, the goal was champagne flutes and a tiered cake plate (because we are bourgeois pigs, comrade).
We found some crystal champagne flutes from 2000, and I asked the guy how much. Totally deadpan he says ’20 bucks’. I stared at him and my mouth opened. I stared some more, and just said, “you are kidding right? Two glasses 20 bucks? That’s 10 a glass, haven’t you heard of IKEA?” Admittedly that was probably a stupid choice of argument. He said ‘You don’t like it go somewhere else”. I looked at my friend, and she stared at me like I was losing. “Damn” I thought, “I’m hungover, I don’t care about these glasses, but now I HAVE to fight”. SO I started saying things like “I’m not rich, how the hell can I afford something at that price, give me your best offer”. The guy stared at me and then said something that hadn’t anticipated, or even though of “Why the hell do you need champagne glasses if you’re so poor?” I stared at my feet, they avoided my eyes, eventually I looked said “ Crystal or not, you won’t get more than 10 bucks for both, and that’s my last deal”. He agreed and handed them over. The next guy who had three matching champagne glasses made circa 1990, with the color paint flaking off, and the glass worn from cleaning. Refuse to budge from his price, at all. I asked him, haggled, haggled, and eventually he just said buy them or go away. My friend bought them. We overpaid everything and the thing is I knew we were, but I was unable to avoid it. I just can’t haggle.
Does anyone have any tips? I feel like this skill would be worth knowing, or at least worth knowing the theory of, even if I’m incapable of following through.