Watch Your Step, Part 2

In last week’s Watch Your Step, Travel Tips I warned you about bartering in Jerusalem’s Marketplace. Perhaps the best way to caution you about some of the salesmen is to tell you one story from my experience—even if it makes me look bad.

Travel Light Humor
A white shirt embroidered with light blue thread drew my attention. I walked past it twice trying not to act interested. The seamstress was obviously a gifted artist. Unfortunately, someone had added cheap sequins to the beautiful design.

I had just decided it was too expensive and I didn’t want to pay for glitter anyway, but I stared one second too long.

The twenty-year-old salesman thought he had a fish on the hook. “You like?”

“The embroidery pattern only. Not the sequins.”

“I have others. See.” He showed me a poorly made shirt with garish bright blue thread. A bait and switch tactic—put the best quality on display to attract the customers. Then get them to pay the same price for poor quality.

“No, thank you.” I shook my head and walked quickly to rejoin my husband.

The young man grabbed the beautiful display shirt and chased after me. “Here. Here.”

While continuing to walk, I spoke more firmly, “No. I’m not interested.”

“Please. Please.” He pushed it into my hands. “Please.” His brown eyes pleaded while he placed his hand over his heart. “For me.” Ah, the emotional appeal.

I laughed and he thought he had me. However, I do know when someone is feeding me a line. I’m not that naïve. I held the shirt at arms length and examined it with a critical eye.

His smile disappeared.

It seemed a matter of pride for him (and other vendors) to never let a customer get away without selling them something.

On one hand, I felt guilty offering him less than half the price he had on the tag. On the other hand, I did not like those sequins. So, I could take it or leave it.

It was up to him now to decide. His buddies and competitors were watching.

Wide-eyed, he glanced their direction.

When we got home from Israel I told my son how bad I felt for offering the young man such a low price. I worried that I may have made a cultural faux pas and insulted him.

My son snickered. “Mom, he wouldn’t have sold it if he was losing money on it.”

“I don’t know. You should have seen his face.”

The shirt hangs in my closet. I still haven’t worn it.

So, who do you think won the deal? Tell me in the comments below.


Until next time . . . Travel Light,
© 2017 SuZan Klassen

4 thoughts on “Watch Your Step, Part 2

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