Gather around, kids! Today, I’d like to tell you a story about how much more entertaining it is to shop in this part of the world than it is back home in the States. And so, let’s all go down to the auto parts store, where our hero enters, on a quest for a tow cable and an air compressor.
I am greeted at once by an older man in a brown suit, clutching a cigarette I never actually see him put to his lips, speaking English with a thick regional accent. After we sync up our vocabulary to determine what I’m looking for, he shows me several cables and we pick the best one. He glances at the sticker and tells me, “Says one-thirty. Give it to you for one hundred. Special price.” I agree that this is indeed a special price.
We now look at air compressors. He and his assistant, who speaks no English, remove an air compressor from the shelf, unpack it, and show me how to assemble it. “Is Chinese, so it maybe get too hot…” He shows me where it might overheat. “… So turn it off and on. No problem. You know Chinese things. Good quality, though.” He directs his assistant to remove a car battery from behind the counter, hook up the compressor, and turn it on.
“Looks good,” I say.
The old man shrugs. “Good quality, even if it is Chinese. You know Arabs. They see it’s Chinese, they don’t want.” He shrugs again and flicks an ash off of his cigarette. “Box say four-fifty, but for you, four hundred. Special price.” Once again, I have to admit this is a special price.
While his assistant boxes up the compressor, the old man and I work out whether cash or credit is best. We go with cash. He punches a number into a calculator and he sends his assistant out to my car with my purchases before I can stop him. I pay up and hurry out.
And it’s not until I get home that I realize I’d paid five hundred eighty for both items, which is not really that special of a price. I’m not 100 percent sure what exactly happened there.