Olive Pigs - a hungry Italian adventure 🇮🇹

The negotiator

Olive Pigs - a hungry Italian adventure 🇮🇹

“How much?” I asked.

My heart thundered against my rib cage.

I’d spent the last few months reading negotiation books for a project I’d been putting together for work. Bartering for a pair of sunglasses was the perfect opportunity to flex my new skills.

These lessons were going to get me a great deal. This guy wouldn’t know what hit him.

“10 Euro, sir,” said the shop attendant. He was a bright Bangladeshi man, gentle and enthusiastic.

What a steal! Even the worst sunglasses (the kind that make you look like a Love Island reject) were pushing £30 in the UK. This was going to be easy.

I agreed and we headed to the counter to pay up.

“Do you take card?” I asked with casual confidence.

The shop attendant nodded his head with enthusiasm.

“Of course, sir!” he said. It was like both of us were elated at the bargain I was about to receive.

Suddenly, his phone lit up. I could see “The Boss” on the caller ID.

The shop attendant for furrowed his brow.

“One moment, sir,” he said.

He picked up the phone and chatted away in Italian. At first the conversation seemed breezy and casual. But his body suddenly seized up. Although I couldn’t understand the conversation, his tone became rushed and aggravated.

After a few minutes he grunted a hung up.

“I’m sorry, sir. But could you spare a couple more euros to pay by card?” he asked.

I could feel the bargain slipping through my fingers…but 12 Euros was still a decent price.

“Sure,” I said before putting on a firm no-nonsense tone, “but no more.”

My negotation books had taught me that you need to be firm but fair in any trade deal. You don’t want to be taken for a ride.

“Of course, sir! Thank you! Thank you!” he said. He began fiddling with the card machine.

My negotiation books had also taught me that silence is a powerful tool. So I remained silent for about 9 seconds before my social awkwardness became too unbearable.

“How long have you been in Rome for?” I asked, desperate to break the silence I had created.

The shop attendant leant away from the card machine and looked to the heavens. He began his story of finishing university but struggling to find any work. He had a young wife back home that he needed to provide for. His brother had gone to the UK (the best country in the world, he assured me) but he had to go to Rome. He was happy here but he wished to see his family again.

He then tapped 13 Euros into the card machine and pointed to it.

“This okay, yes?” he said. It was a statement, not a question.

I sighed and entered my PIN into the machine.

“England is the best country,” he said.

I nodded and left. I still had a lot to learn.