negotiating a fair price – car boot fairs – homelessness USA style

27 May 1664

Up, not without some pain by cold, which makes me mighty melancholy, to think of the ill state of my health. To the office, where busy till my brains ready to drop with variety of business, and vexed for all that to see the service like to suffer by other people’s neglect. Vexed also at a letter from my father with two troublesome ones enclosed from Cave and Noble, so that I know not what to do therein.

At home to dinner at noon. But to comfort my heart, Captain Taylor this day brought me 20l. he promised me for my assistance to him about his masts.

After dinner to the office again, and thence with Mr. Wayth to St. Catherine’s to see some variety of canvas’s, which indeed was worth my seeing, but only I was in some pain, and so took not the delight I should otherwise have done. So home to the office, and there busy till late at night, and so home to supper and to bed.

This morning my taylor brought me a very tall mayde to be my cook-mayde; she asked 5l., but my wife offered her but 3l. 10s. — whether she will take it or no I know not till to-morrow, but I am afeard she will be over high for us, she having last been a chamber mayde, and holds up her head, as my little girle Su observed.

Today encouraged by the last of Pepys stanzas above I reflect on how people negotiate. Haggling, bargaining, negotiating – all have their subtle differences. The expression haggling comes from the Middle English haggen, to chop. The processes seem to depend on the participants keeping their cards close to their chest and not really saying what they think. Come to think of it, it’s a bit like playing cards in many ways. Most of our human activities involve negotiation of some sort and there is an interesting article I have found, lightweight in nature admittedly, which reflects on some of the aspects.

The double glazing people that I’ve had the misfortune to meet offer a higher price than they expect knowing that if they offer a discount that will sound more attractive than mentioning that amount of money in the first place.   If you go to Marrakesh or any city in India you will find that bargaining is normal. Don’t try bargaining in Denmark. The price is the price and there is no discussion.  With services that don’t have a rigid price structure such as gardening, personal chemistry is important and that may well influence the customer. Someone said to me once, first you sell yourself and then you sell the product. However difficult the circumstances, I tried to retain politeness and objectivity. People may say no for a number of reasons including the fact (they dont tell you) that they are going to see someone else about the same matter the next day, their partners may not agree, they don’t have the money. There are a dozen reasons most of which have nothing to do with you the seller.

I’m off to a car boot sale this afternoon where the only bargaining of any interest to me will probably be garden tools. One pound or even 50p is the marker for most things possibly two or three pounds but we shall see when we go. …… <3 hour pause>   I have returned from one of the most dispiriting events which perhaps is no longer for me.  There were a lot of very overweight people deciding whether to buy discarded plastic toys or used dresses for a pound or so. I was hoping to see something on the gardening front but I was disappointed. Traders were taking whatever they could get for any items. I saw a good quality microphone that would have cost the best part of hundred pounds go for three pounds which is great. I think it’s all a matter of luck so I will draw a veil over this afternoon.

I just had one of my potential garden clients tell me that they had found a friend who would do the work or some of it on a voluntary basis for which we had quoted. This is not my day so I think I will pause the diary at this point. Time to cook up a storming ratatouille.

But hey it turned out to be my day after all – the outer life is one thing, the inner life, the life of imagination, is quite something else.  I listened to a wonderful programme on Radio Four about Rachmaninov and how his first symphony was ridiculed and how he needed hypnosis to believe in himself enough to write the piano Concertii particularly the second one.

I have just finished watching a film made in and about the USA concerning people living on the street and it’s quite amazing how many college students are homeless, I think it’s about 25,000. Most employers offer the minimum wage of $7.25 which doesn’t get anyone anywhere. If you have 1h11m29sec to spare this is a wonderfully human film which did more for my spirit than anything else I’ve done today. I don’t make a penny from these recommendations but the series of which this is apart is outstanding in quality  and free to watch. The series is called Top Documentary Films. I used to work for the homeless in London many years ago and produced a directory to help them. I remember going round with a social worker who said to me “you see that man over there. You would not think he was a merchant banker three months ago”. Homelessness can strike anyone at any time for any reason. Do not look down on these people because you could be seeing yourself in a future version.

A possible customer called me this afternoon. I gave a quote for a job and she sent me an e-mail saying that she had found somebody else to work for her for nothing but she would like us to come along and make the place look pretty. In other words, get some person who doesn’t know what they’re doing to wreck the place and we have to repair the damage. I don’t think this is what a professional relationship is all about. anyway the call came after the letter. I did not answer the phone because I didn’t want to hear nonsense on the Sunday afternoon.

Leave a Reply