In the narrow streets of La Huchette, an ancient quarter in the shadows of Notre Dame now overtaken by purveyors of kebabs, we spotted a store with cool scarves. My mom found one for herself and a few purses for her cousins, and I found a couple of scarves, too.
Time to deal.
"Hi," I started. "We're interested in buying a few things from you, but first I'm wondering, could you make us a better deal on the price?"
She smiled and said she couldn't. "It's my third day working here, and I don't think I can just offer a discount."
She was foreign and looked very sweet, a little timid too, so I felt the best approach was to be friendly and sympathetic.
"Third day? Wow!" Smile, keep smiling, nice and gentle. "But I'm just wondering, for six items -- the total is more than 70 euros, could we do 10 percent off, or maybe just round it down to 70? What do you think?"
"I don't know what my boss would say. I don't think he'd want me to change the prices."
"Oh, but I also imagine he'd be really pleased that you sold so many things in 2 minutes!"
"Oh gosh, I just don't know."
"Well, you could sell six things at once, or, perhaps, nothing. What do you think your boss would prefer?"
"I don't think he wants me to changes the prices."
"Ok! Got it! I totally understand."
"Would you still like to take them?"
They really were gorgeous. One colored like wine, the other like soil, and both as soft as sin. But at that price, after all that effort to get a deal...
I checked with my mom if she minded walking away empty handed. She was fine with it. More scarves and purses around every corner, if we were feeling really deprived.
So: "No," I replied.
I left feeling a little down. And unlike Tuesday's trench, soon forgotten, these silks were still in my thoughts as I left the store.