Friday, August 17, 2007

The Two of Swords

I hate haggling.

You'd think that ANYONE would hate bargaining for a price but as it turns out there are some wack jobs out there that actually get off on the to and fro that goes with haggling. I truly doubt the thrill in haggling has anything to do with 'beating the system' (even if you happen to manage to haggle down 50% it's still no skin off anyone's nose) it's purely about the chase that really gets people fired up.

My dad, for instance, was one of those wack jobs who loved doing it. I remember getting my very first tape deck - it was pink with white buttons. It was not a quick process. First, we went to the store and I saw my pink marshmallow and fell in love immediately. I exclaimed "that's the one" and immediately imagined myself putting my Madonna tape right in there and dancing around. My dad brought the guy over and started arguing over the price "too expensive" I remember him saying - "if you don't give us a good deal we're going somewhere else". My visions of dancing to Madonnna while worshiping my pink marshmallow tape deck were slowly dribbling into nothingness. No, I didn't want to go elsewhere for some other, obviously inferior tape deck. I wanted this very perfect one and I wanted it right now. The guy did that annoying thing that salesmen often do - you know the thing "my hands are tied. This is rock bottom". We walked out. I started pouting (okay I think I kicked someone). The guy followed us - okay, ohkaaaay... he'd take off a tenner. My dad was happy - he then mangaged to bargain extra deals for paying with cash and, of course - free batteries (for like, my street jiving).

You know that whole process I just described? Nothing about it appeals to me (except owning the pink tape deck). If I want something, I want it now. I don't want to dance around shrugging shoulders, pretending not to care, walking out, only to walk back in - putting on a sob story, acting tough then nice then tough again. It's pointless to me and wastes my time - I hate getting upset because I know the prices have been jacked up. I'd much rather the prices not be corrupt in the first place so I don't have to worry about it and I can just focus on the product itself instead. Furthermore running around in circles just so I can get 20 bucks off the price of a 2 thousand dollar piece of new electronic equipment that'll be out of warranty sooner than later is something I consider very demeaning. It's also boring - because I know it's a formality that people engage in and indeed that sales people are ready for (they're trained to deflect and appease). I don't want to haggle and struggle through a goddamn process! What kind of a person loves processes over the real deal? I want to get to the good stuff thanks. Leave all that other shit at the door. I know it's why I struggle with the process of 'dating' and men as well as buying a house. I want real, not fake. The game sucks.

If I want to buy something, anything - whether it's a clue an idea or a product I want to walk in, get it settled and walk out again. You know when there are two people flirting like crazy while everyone else is forced to vomit into their baseball caps as they watch the love fest? Well I'm the person that yells "oh for fucks sake get a ROOM". Yeah, that's me.

So with this in mind you can imagine just how frustrated I've been lately - while trying to organise a very costly media related purchase for the school. I'm gathering quotes (which is fine) and comparing quotes (again, fine) but then noticing discrepancies between quotes and having to go back and haggle the price down in a "we're giving you the business now it's your turn to come to the table" kind of way. It's annoying. I'm crossed between a decision that will hopefully bring on the "best" - but the best what I cannot answer. The best price only benefits the finance department and I'm not one for finances. The best equipment is great but it's only great if I utilise it in the best way possible and quite frankly maybe I can't do that with what/who I'm working with. The best outcome might be different for me than what it is for any of the people I'm dealing with, including my own staff who have their own ideas of what 'the best' is. I'm making one decision that will affect a lot of other processes - processes that quite frankly have less to do with me than I ever intended.

After much initial research I've been left to decide between two main contenders - doing a dance with both that is laden with ulterior motives. We all flirt and act coy and carefree with one another but underneath we're in it for ourselves. It's a serious business, very serious - this haggling. In the end I don't know if any of us will win. One will get dumped. One school will get the best price and one company will get business - the controlling factions come out okay, the process wins..

And what of me and him and the other him? We're just the cogs that keep the wheel turning so that it's nicely oiled for the next lot that get on the ride. I don't know if I even want to keep the process going. It's crappy and I want no part of something that's crappy - surely there is an easier way for everyone to get what they want - or at least for everyone to know where they stand? Surely there is something more...real underneath the bullshit that usually goes on.

I mean, aren't we real..us humans? I'm getting all worked up about a decision that is not going to do anything for my soul - and by soul I mean that part of me that is real and without pretension. All this haggling - who benefits anyway? Certainly not the part of me that loves life, that's for sure. So I make the best monetary decision - big fucking deal - what do all those material things mean in the scheme of life, death, love and humanity? I don't just mean money either.

As it goes, I took a step towards putting a nail in the process in my own small way. I put the prices and deals aside, yes I did, and looked at the people I was dealing with. I googled them both - one of them does work for charity - as a personal thing and though he's not the best in terms of a business decision he might just be the better person.
...and maybe that should be enough for anyone.

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