Beyond Beyond: Episode 88

The Negotiator 

 A day later to the hour the Beyond entered the mouth of Rio Gallegos on its course to the city of Rio Gallegos – an hour and half away.

Drizzle and an incredibly stiff wind from the west greeted the Beyond. Four hours of tacking into the wind exhausted Rich and the Beyond before approaching the city. Rich dropped the sails and motored along the shore before deciding on a place to drop anchor.

Rich slid the dinghy into the water, leaving Zeke on board the Beyond. After three pulls the motor started and he putted to shore.

Everywhere Rich stepped mud stuck to his shoes. The town looked as if it could be a Yukon frontier mining outpost from the turn of the century. The landscape and building blended into an unattractive splotch against an uninviting backdrop of flat desolate land.   

His Spanish was enough to ask questions and conduct rudimentary buying, bartering, and bargaining. His unfamiliarity with the language slowed the haggling process so Rich could make better assessments. That frustrated those he did business with, but even when certain he often played as if he didn’t understand in order to keep his opponent off balance.

Experience suggested the first thing when presented with a bill is to look at it carefully and no matter what it is say, “Demasiado.” However, say it as if you know what the value is and you are willing to pay a fair price, but not the one offered.

Rich entered a hardware store and looked around. He spoke in broken Spanish to the clerk. The clerk was a short man, round with a thick mustache and black wavy hair.

10 meters of rope and 10 meters of small cable,” Rich said pointing to the particular rope and cable he wanted to buy.

Before the clerk started to measure it, Rich said, “First, how much/?

The clerk’s eyes squinted and looked over Rich’s head as if an invisible adding machine calculated the results. “350 pesos, that is with a discount.”

Demasiado,” Rich said.

340,” the clerk countered.

No,” Rich said. “Demasiado.”

Give me a price,” the clerk said.

150 pesos,” Rich said.

No, no,” the clerk said. “300 and that’s it.”

That’s double what I offered,” Rich complained. “I know the worth and you know the cost, Help me.”

The clerk tapped his finger on his lips. “250.”

200,” Rich said.

No,” the clerk said. “Never.”

$5,” Rich said, “American.”

Dollars?” the clerk said.

Rich pulled a five from his billfold and pressed it on the counter.

Sure,” the clerk said, “we can do much business between us.”

Kerosene?” Rich said.

American?” the clerk said.

Of course,” Rich said.

I have a special price,” the clerk said.

Jerrycans?” Rich said.

What?” the clerk said.

Gas cans,” Rich said. “20 liters.”

Yes,” the clerk said, “how many?”

Four,” Rich said.

All I have is three,” the clerk said. “but I will give you my own. It does not leak.”

You are a very generous man,” Rich said.

Is that your boat in the bay?” the clerk said.

Yes,” Rich said.

Are you sailing around the cape or through the Strait?” the clerk said.

The cape,” Rich said and thought to himself, “A little misinformation may go a long way.”

Either way,” the clerk said, “may god be with you.”

That is good of you,” Rich said, “thanks.”

Rich also gathered a sack of assorted screws, nuts, bolts, and nails. He used a cart to take everything to the dinghy. He motored the supplies to the Beyond and stowed them away.

Rich returned the cart and asked for directions to a grocery. There, he replenished his stock and likewise, able to negotiate a more suitable price.


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