The door to the shop flew open and a frantic middle-aged man came running in and threw himself at the counter. He stood for a minute, gasping for breath before he could get any words out.
“I need a sword,” he demanded. His clothes were torn and his hair muddied from a fight.
“I don’t know, young man,“ the shop owner said a little too slowly and knowing he was flattering the customer by calling him young. He leaned on the counter to study the slightly younger customer. “We’ve got to do a medieval background check and I just don’t know if I can trust you.“ He pointed to a sign on the side of the counter.
“We reserveth the right to refuseth service to anyone including thee.“ The sign read.
Outside the shop a loud roar shook the entire village. First one then two monstrous beast heads appeared at the shop window. Then another and yet another at windows on the opposite side of the shop appeared. Finally a seventh head appeared in the doorway and ripped it off its hinges.
“Roar,” said the seven headed beast. The shopkeepers eyes grew wide. He looked back-and-forth between the beast and the customer.
“Is that the seven headed beast of the apocalypse?“ He looked from the monster back to the customer. “Then you must be, wait, no, this scrawny little twirp? Are you thirtysomething dad?“ Shopkeeper asked. The customer nodded yes.
“Why, you’re the greatest hero this world hath ever seen. If anyone canst defeat the seven headed monster of the apocalypse it’s you. You’ve come to the right place. You don’t need a background check. Here, this is what you need.“
The shopkeeper reached underneath of the counter and pulled up a gleaming, diamond tipped, gold plated, magical sword and handed it to Thirtysomething dad. It was heavy but just right for good momentum in a swing. The blades were sharp, razor, deadly sharp. Thirtysomething dad picked it up spinnining around and swung it a few times. If there was anyway he was going to defeat that monster, this sword was the only way.
“Thanks,“ he looked at the shopkeeper in the eye and tried to get in a genuine sense of gratitude.
“No problem,” the shopkeeper returned his intense gaze and then added, “that will be $899.99.“
“I can’t afford that. That’s the cost of a new iPad. There’s a deadly monster out there that’s going to bring about the end of the world. The creature roared again and shook the shop to accentuate the point. “Can you cut me a break?“
“Those are not very good negotiation skills. Haven’t you heard of any of the other persuasion techniques? Reciprocity, you could have given me something it would’ve made me feel like I needed to give you a better deal. Maybe like an autographed picture of you and me holding this sword. Or maybe you could have used the technique of similarity. If you fixed your hair the way I have mine fixed, dress the way I do I might feel more of a connection to you and be willing to negotiate with you.“
“I don’t really have time for that.“
“Well, then I don’t really have time to give you a discount. You’re at least sposed to haggle. You know, 899 for that, you must be mad.
Why don’t you just put it on credit? I know for a fact that the Kings bank or the Well of Fargo not to mention Dragon’s Chase and Ancient Express have all extended credit to peasants even without credit history.
I could sign you up for that right now, with only a small commission to myself, of course. You would save 5% on your purchases today.”
“No thanks,” Thirtysomething dad said.
“Then I’ll need to hang on to that.” The shopkeeper reaches over the counter and pried the sword out of Thirtysomething dad’s hands. “Perhaps I can fit you with something more in your budget? What exactly were you looking to spend today?”
“Well I haven’t got much on me,” Thirtysomething dad said. The monster roared to remind him of his impending doom. “Oh yeah, and I’m in a bit of a hurry.”
“Oh, that’s perfect. Here’s a model that I am sure you’ll be interested in. It has all the same functionality as the previous model I showed you. Blades are sharp, you’ll find the weight to be appropriately proportional to your height and strength. I can even throw in a few extras to make it a little bit better for what you need to use it for.“
“That sounds great. It sounds perfect. How much is it?“
“Well, it’s on sale today, and by that I mean the deal that I’m about to give you will be gone as soon as you walk out that door. This is an exclusive model that I’ve only shown to one other customer. In fact, he said he would be back in just a few minutes. He was just running down to the bank to make a withdrawal. I’m willing to give it to you for the same price I was offering him just because I know how much you need it right now.“
“That sounds great. I really appreciate you considering my circumstance and the urgency. So, how much is it?“
Shopkeeper leaning even further. He put both elbows up on the counter and lowered his head. He motioned for Thirtysomething dad to lean in as well. They looked to the left and then to the right just to make sure that no one else could hear. “I’m gonna let you have it for only $399.98 plus tax.“
“Well, That’s actually pretty good. I mean, that sounds good after seeing that more expensive model. Wait a minute, is that what you’re doing? Did you just show me an expensive model that you don’t expect me or anyone else to ever buy just so that you can show me a less expensive model that will sound like a good deal after seeing the more expensive model?
Wait, did you just give me an exclusive price that’s probably the same price that you give to everybody else? And that limited time on the deal, it’ll still be here tomorrow with this price on it?“
The shopkeeper stood back up and put his hands flat on the countertop. He glared at Thirtysomething dad. “Well, do you wanna rock to throw at the beast instead?“
“No,“ Thirtysomething dad said in disgust. This isn’t even a good price on a bad day. I can buy the same sword refurbished at a quarter of the price. What else you got?“
“How much are you willing to spend?“ The shopkeeper asked. Thirtysomething dad reached into his coin pouch and plop down a coin onto the counter. The shopkeeper glared back at him. He never broke eye contact as he reached behind him and pulled a toy, plastic sword off the “kids“ section. He let it plunk down on the countertop to reinforce the fact that it was made of hollow plastic. Thirtysomething dad looked at the sword then at the shopkeeper. He looked again between the two, just waiting.
“Fine, if that’s how it is now.“
“That’s how it is now,” shopkeeper said. Thirtysomething dad reached back into his pouch, pulled out another coin and smacked it down on the counter. The shopkeeper answered in turn by reaching underneath the counter to pull out a letter opener. He pulled the plastic sword back to make sure that it was obvious that was not part of the new deal.
Thirtysomething dad reached back into his pouch and pulled out another coin that wasn’t quite the same size or brilliance as the previous coins. He looked at it and thought about it for a minute. Then he finally put it down on the counter. the shopkeeper looked back and forth between TSD and the new coin. He couldn’t think of anything else so he placed a blank envelope next to the sword shaped letter opener.
“Cheapskate,” The shopkeeper said.
“No, I’m just frugal,” TSD reluctantly grabbed the miniature sword and raced toward the door. He stopped a few steps before he stopped, ran back to the counter and grabbed the extra coin he had given. He left the envelope.
Fire lept from the nostrils and the beast screamed a deafening roar to match. Thirtysomething dad stepped out and brandished his weapon. He made a few sweeping strokes of his miniature sword and gave the monster a snarl. The beast leaned in with all seven heads squinted to see the tiny instrument of destruction. At first he chuckled a tiny flame. Then he lost control fell over. His laughter came in burst of flame and chokes of black smoke. Thirtysomething dad watched in irritation.
“Peter pan always beat Captain Hook with the dagger,” he shouted at the monster. It replied by reaching a gnarly talon ouch and smacking TSD through the side wall of the armory shop. He rolled up to the counter and climbed to his feet.
“Not because you are a good salesman, I’m onto all your techniques of persuasion, but simply because I need the right tool for the job,” he placed the letter opener back on the counter and reached for his coinpurse, I mean bag. His coin bag. It is not a purse.
The shopkeeper looked at the mini sword and said plainly, “no refunds or exchanges.”
TSD grabbed the letter opener back and stuck it in his belt. He dropped his coin bag onto the counter and held his hand out for the medium priced sword. The shopkeeper opened the bag, took a careful count then slowly reached under the counter to bring out the no frills sword. He handed it to Thirtysomething dad but didn’t let go.
“You’re going to need a sheath, sharpening stone and a couple of fancy jewells to decorate it with,“ The shopkeeper said with no conviction.
“I’ll get it from the Amazon Warriors shop next-door. At least they post verified customer reviews.“ Thirtysomething dad brandished the sword and ran back out to the fight. The seven headed beast shrieked in half fear, half anger roar and plunged his heads towards Thirtysomething Dad.
A woman burst into the shop and the shopkeeper became all smiles again. “Hi, I’m Thirtysomething mom, I need…”
“I’ve got just the thing for you. Will you see the combination of beauty, form and functionality,” he pulled out the elaborate sword and try to hand it to her.
“No,” she narrowed her eyebrows. “Why would I need a sword?” She looked out at the monster situation and nodded. “Oh, no, he’s got that. He doesn’t need my help. I’ve got a bigger situation on my hands.“
“I see. You’re probably trying to find some jewelry that will go good with that beautiful dress. Not only will you appreciate my expertise in style and fashion but I can also tell you the colors that will go good with your eyes.“
“What? No, I got two hungry kids waiting in the carriage outside. Have you got any vegan protein bars? And don’t bother with any of that persuasion stuff, trying to get me to buy something more expensive than it should be. I’m on to all your persuasion techniques. If I don’t get some food in my kids in the next few minutes they’re probably gonna eat each other.“