Yesterday, I stopped at a bookshop at Ikeja. It’s one of those ones with a display stand by the road, the main outlet storing books hidden away among tailors, boutiques, provisions and household utensil merchants in some shopping plaza. I had bought books from the elderly owner in the past, but his son was the only one to attend to me. No, 1000 naira was way overboard. Could I see his father to negotiate a better price? He shrugged and agreed. Yes, I knew the main shop and would see his father there. The man turned me down, I stood no chance — it was as his son had told me. I walked away feeling the man was arrogant, he lacked customer service. At least, I reckoned, he could have come down to 900 naira if he had the slightest trace of customer service in him. All that until truth dawned. I could have left that bookseller with my book if I had done two things. Here are the lessons I came away with as my fuming subsided:
- I should have made a specific offer. I never mentioned once what I was willing to pay. I depended on the man’s good reason to bring the price down.
- I should have respected the son. Don’t go to the father to overrule the son. I think this one is more important. My action insinuated that I had some influence over the father beside him; that I could come between both of them and get away with what I wanted. I see now that the man fought for something more than the price of a book; he fought for his son’s pride, his son’s dignity. Next time, I will appeal to the son to lobby the father for a lower price for me. I believe, sincerely, that I would have gotten a better deal if I had acted so wisely. I think this is like what we Christians say about The Father, and The Son.