Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bargaining.

I hope I remember never to comment on the proximity of my posts to the present. Historically, such comments have shown 100% correlation to further delay in blog posts.

Either that or I am just slack.

This post is a comment on Friday, the 2nd of April.

On this day, I found myself in Shibuya with Blair, who had to perform some tasks at a nearby bank. I had been meaning to get batteries for my camera, and accordingly I requested he point me in the correct direction. Blair guided me to three different electronics shops, all in close proximity, surrounding Shibuya crossing. It has been said that Shibuya Crossing is the busiest in the world, I have not visited any of the other contenders, but I can vouch for its... busyness.

The first store I visited was 'Labi,' apparently the biggest of my 3 options. Finding rechargeable batteries was not as easy as I may have first imagined, as it appears this did not qualify as important enough to place on their shop diagram. Following 15 minutes of fruitless exploration in this 8 level electronics store, I asked one of the staff, who directed me to the correct location.

Upon a successful discovery of my prize, I inspected my options. ¥3500 was the average price of a battery charger with four AA batteries. My Mummy always trained me in the art of not simply spending my money, but getting the most from what I have. Accordingly, I took note of the price, and journeyed on to the second store, Bic Camera. To my dismay, I found it to be another multilevel electronics store. As I ascended the staircase to level 2, I saw something out of the corner of my eye...

Relieved to find the rechargeable batteries section with such ease, I inspected my options. I discovered a very similar spread of supplies, but markedly cheaper, around ¥3100. At this point, you may be tempted to think that I simply made my purchase and was done. You would be wrong, there were three stores, remember? I made use of the camera function on my mobile phone, and took several pictures of my preferred options, and headed for the third store.

Blair had only told me the directions to this third store, as it was on the other side of Shibuya Crossing, and we had just missed the lights. Therefore, I explored the way he had indicated, but to no avail. After an extensive search, I deduced that this third store was not open, or had permanently closed. The large rolling metal doors, painted with electronic goods, and in the exact location described to me supported this.

"Well now you just went and bought the stuff from that second store, right?"

Nope.

From grade 1, the start of my schooling, I was taught Japanese. This continued for a total of nine years, most of it with Mrs Carter. You would think that after such a long time, combined with living in Japan for almost a month by this time, my skill in Japanese would be quite respectable. If you were thinking that, along with the last 2 such statements I made, you would be wrong again. Three times now, shame on you.

Thus, armed with my photos, confidence, and such miniscule skill in Japanese that it would make Mrs Carter faint, I marched back to Labi, store number one. Finding a (very unfortunate) staff member around the batteries, I proceeded to point out my preferred pack, containing a Panasonic charger and some batteries. I then showed him the photo from Bic Camera. I then explained, in broken Japanese, how Bic Camera was cheaper, and they were expensive.

This last phase of my plan took longest. Eventually, we came to an understanding, and my victim spoke quickly into a microphone attached to his lapel. He then led me to a counter, with purchase in hand. Using a calculator, he showed me that the store was willing to part with my charger for ¥100 less than Bic Camera's price. I made one last concerted effort to increase this margin, without success.

"Crazy, this guy is crazy," you are no doubt thinking to yourself. Oh reader, you could not be more correct.

Epilogue:
Purchase in hand, I went to find Blair. A more difficult task than you would imagine. He had called and told me he was inside a certain bank at Shibuya Crossing, whose name I cannot recall. Shibuya Crossing is surrounded by many shops, so I walked into the middle of the crosswalk, and on my toes, peered around. Spying my goal, I headed over and started to explore in the bank. After checking all of the first and second level, even walking into areas where I most likely was not welcome, I decided that this was not the place.

Calling Blair, he insisted he was inside the bank, with which I vehemently disagreed. After some quick problem solving, we both deduced that we were in fact inside different branches of the same bank. Again waiting at the lights and heading to the centre of Shibuya Crossing, I spied another branch, and resolutely headed for it. On my way there, I accidentally ran it to Blair, almost literally. Apparently, I had been heading towards a third branch of the same bank.

Three branches of the same bank, within 100 metres of each other!

Even now, 20 days after this event, I cannot recall a time where Blair has laughed harder, than at my retelling of my latest conquest purchase.

1 comment: