iraqistan

12/10/2006

Bargains

Filed under: — lana @ 12:11 pm

Acting quickly, before the Czech Republic switches to the Euro and everyone goes bankrupt, I found that a trip east was worth the time and 58 dollars yesterday, mostly thanks to an overmotivated shopaholic for a friend and my need for a pair of boots.

It has yet to snow with a purpose here in Germany, having had unusually mild weather the past few weeks for this time of year. I suspect, however, that this will not last much longer, predicting the first major snowstorm to coincide nicely with the next time my car breaks down.

Speaking of which, the nice German man downtown fixed my car, at least mostly with only a minor repair to take place sometime this week, with the comment “Hmmm… good thing it didn’t blow up.” That was encouraging. Kind of like the equivalent of a doctor looking at something and going “HOLY MOLEY WHAT ON EARTH IS THAT?” A nice, warm fuzzy feeling, to say the least.

But back to topic, I took the day yesterday to wander around a Vietnamiese flea market, in the middle of Eastern Europe, paying with a mixture of European and American dollars, for some multi-cultural fun in bargaining techniques. I used to be a good bargainer, particularly with Iraqis to whom I can just say “Look, this is what I will pay you for that. Do you want to sell it to me or starve?” but I have gotten a touch out of practice and was less than motivated as the cold rain seeped into the collar of my jacket and slowly gave me pneumonia. This is where my friend came in. We quickly found that these items probably “fell off the truck” somewhere between Russia and France, and these sellers would accept the most absurdly low price if they thought you were going to go to the stall across the way. With several hundred stalls in about a three block radius, it was a pretty cutthroat business, and I wandered away with two pairs of boots for 38 euro combined, a new bag I didn’t really need for 10 euro, and a new gym bag for 6 euro. 54 euro spent when original asking price for the various items was about 140 euro, so not a bad day overall. We have already made plans to go back after the new year to see what else we can pick up.

Tomorrow, it appears, will not be a bad day either, as I will be alone in the office with my soldier out training and my boss out on illness. After haggling with my command with almost as much gusto as my friend haggled with the Vietnamiese sellers, I secured a rifle range slot for my soldier so he could go and fire a real weapon for the second time since he left initial training. Though we are in the Army, so one would presume it would be fairly easy to get someone out to fire a rifle, it has been a three month process of nagging, harassment, and obscure threats against first-born children.

The same has not, unfortunately, gone the same for myself in terms of Green Negotiation. I casually informed my supervisor that I would be more than happy to drop pursual of my medical board if he could give me three things in return: a course which I have wanted since coming into the army, a deployment next winter to avoid the cold, and a million dollars cash, untaxed. I was open to suggestion, but my flexibility would be limited, particularly on the million. As it stands now we appear to be at a stalemate, as for some reason he thinks the deployment would be hard to procure.

So while my bargaining skills are improving, it seems I still have a way to go.

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