Chris and I had been married just over a month and were excited to purchase our first Christmas tree together. Our budget was $20. Not much, even twenty years ago.
We visited two Christmas tree lots and both times I immediately told the lot owner, "We want the biggest tree you can give us for $20!" Neither lot had a tree taller than three feet available for that price.
As we got in the car without a tree the second time, Chris said, "Please don't say anything at the next lot. Let me do the negotiating."
I tried. Chris patiently followed the lot owner from tree to tree, nodding his head, whittling the price down. I dutifully stood beside Chris and tried to look young and sweet... and poor. Things weren't moving fast enough. I felt an opening, sensed a softness growing in the lot owner. "This tree is perfect for our apartment, but we only have $20," I said.
We left the lot without a tree again.
Purchasing cars, houses, negotiating in general, is not my strength. I show my hand too quickly... Would you like to see our bank accounts? I pay more than is necessary because I trust the seller... He TOLD me this was a good deal. Why would he lie? Or I kill the transaction because I spastically blurt the wrong thing at the wrong time... Are you trying to screw me?
We bought a car recently and Chris reminded me several times to please just shhh. He's kinder than most partners would be with my track record, "I know you're only trying to help, but you've got to let me handle this. Don't say anything about money. Try not to say anything at all... in front of anyone. You and I need to talk privately."
It was hard, but I did it.
Yesterday, we had a new guy do some yard work for us. He gave me a bid for the work a couple of weeks ago. It sounded... fine. [What do I know?] The man worked hard in the hot sun all day, the bushes and beds looked groomed and tidy and he was a pleasant person.
I gave the guy a check, came in the house and told Chris how pleased I was with the work that had been done. I said, "He tried to charge us less than his original bid. But, I reminded him... it was such a hot day... plus he's got to haul all that stuff away and unload it."
"So, you paid him more?"
"... ... ... I don't want him to feel like we're taking advantage of him," I said.
"So, you negotiated up?"
Chris was calm, but he added, "Don't do that."
I have a little money. Anyone want some?
[Image courtesy of Google Images]