[Originally published July 24, 2015.]
PLACE: Some lady’s driveway
Item #1: Lamp
ME: Would you take fifty cents for this lamp?
LADY: The lamp is marked a dollar.
ME: I can’t go higher than seventy-five cents.
LADY: The lamp works perfectly.
ME: That’s of no concern to me. Would you take seventy-five cents? Yes or no?
LADY: I… yes, I suppose I would.
ME: Then you’ve got yourself a deal, lady.
A copy of Chicken Soup for
the Grandmother’s Soul
Price: Ten cents
ME: [Absentmindedly flipping through some pages]
LADY: That’s a lovely book.
ME: I’ll give you a nickel for it.
LADY: All books are a dime.
ME: That’s crazy. That price is crazy. I’ll tell you what — I’ll give you the full dime for this book, if you throw in that chair over there.
LADY: The chair is priced at five dollars.
ME: So, would you do both — the chair and the book — for ten cents?
LADY: You can have the book for ten cents.
ME: As previously stated, I’ll give you a nickel for the book. Not every book is worth the same price. Plus, I’ve already read this one.
LADY: You’ve read Chicken Soup for the Grandmother’s Soul?
ME: [Unflinchingly] I have.
LADY: So, why do you want it, then?
LADY: [Long pause] Sigh. I guess I’ll accept a nickel.
ME: That’s a smart decision. Deal.
Item #3: Dinner plate
Price: Fifty cents
ME: What do I gotta do to get that dinner plate for thirty cents?
LADY: I’m sorry, I’m not really sitting out here to bargain for every last…
ME: Thirty-five cents! But that’s my final offer.
LADY: No, thank you.
ME: Forty cents.
LADY: The plate is marked fifty cents. And I think that’s a very fair price.
ME: [Long pause] Forty-one cents.
ME: [Without breaking eye-contact] Forty-two cents.
LADY: You would honestly rather count out forty-two cents than just give me the full fifty cents?
ME: I absolutely would, yes.
LADY: [Very long pause] OK. I’ll take forty-two cents.
ME: Deal. [Checking pocket] Actually, I only have two quarters. Do you have eight cents in change?
Item #4: Toaster
ME: I would never pay two dollars for that toaster.
LADY: That doesn’t seem like such a high price to ask. It’s basically brand new. I just happen to have a…
ME: [Interrupting] I would, however, pay a dollar-fifteen for a toaster, if you’re willing to take the deal right now, lady. Take the deal. Take. The. Deal.
LADY: This toaster is in perfect working condition.
ME: So is my money.
LADY: Excuse me?
ME: Would you accept a dollar-fifteen?
LADY: No. Somebody else will come along and …
ME: Nobody else is coming here to buy your toaster today, lady! Now I’m only willing to pay a dollar and ten cents. My offer actually went down.
LADY: Are you being serious?
ME: [Sternly, with squinty eyes] As serious as a toaster.
LADY: What does that even mean?
ME: You know what it means. And now my offer is a dollar and five cents.
ME: [Pretending to check my watch, which is actually just my bare wrist] Time’s a’ticking, lady.
LADY: OK, you can have the toaster for a dollar and five cents.
ME: Deal! [Checking my pockets] I must’ve dropped my last nickel. Would you take a dollar for it?
LADY: [Deep sigh] Fine.
Item #5: Wristwatch
ME: Again, I wasn’t actually checking my watch just now, because I don’t happen to own one. At least, not yet. I will. Soon.
LADY: The wristwatch is $4.
ME: How about throwing it in for free, since I’m buying so much other stuff?
LADY: I’d rather not.
ME: You’re coming across as a little cheap, honestly. I live right over there, and I’d love to not have to spread the rumor to everybody that you’re a very stingy yard-sale lady.
LADY: Fine. You can have the watch.
ME: For free?
ME: You’ve got yourself a deal. Thank you for not being cheap.
Item #6: Chair
LADY: Are you ever going to leave my driveway?
ME: Eventually. With your chair in my truck.
LADY: Well, I’m not going to go below five dollars. It’s a very nice chair that’s been in my family for years.
ME: And I’m not going to ask you again to go less than five dollars.
LADY: You’re not?
ME: Nope. I’m just going to wait all day, hovering on that patch of grass near the chair, ensuring that nobody else makes you an offer. Then I’m going to silently hand you two singles and three pennies, and, in turn, you will give me a slight nod, accepting the transaction. I will then load the chair into my truck, and peel off down the block for effect. Then, I will circle around and stop in my driveway. Finally, I will unload the chair, and the rest of this junk, into my basement, where I will forget about it.
LADY: Please don’t hover near my chair all day.
ME: In the spirit of bargaining, I suppose I can agree to that. Instead, I will be waiting over there, by your mailbox. Speaking of which, is that mailbox for sale? I’ll give you sixty-eight cents for it. Take the deal.