With these lessons firmly in mind, I hailed a cab on the wet, dreary morning of my day of deals. I knew I had to establish an affiliation with the driver (whose name, I saw, was Khaleb Alam. Or...Alam Khaleb). But how to do that in the ten minutes it would take to get from my apartment to the office? Should I ask about his children? About his former life in...where was he from, anyway? (I had just read somewhere, though, that this question is reviled by cabdrivers.) Should I tell him he was doing a wonderful job weaving through the terrible New York City traffic in the rain? The blocks flew by, and I stared out the window, racking my brain for an opening. Nothing. We neared my destination. The fare was $5.60, and I was desperate. As we pulled up to the curb, I leaned forward. "So Mr. Khaleb," I said cheerfully, "if it were my birthday today, would you give me a break on the fare?" Our eyes met in the rearview mirror. He was young, probably in his early 30s, and his face was kind. It took him just a second to think about it. "Why, yes," he said. "Give me only $5. And happy birthday, miss."
I winced under the heavy burden of my lie. To lighten it, I gave Mr. Khaleb the full $5.60, plus a 20 percent tip. And suddenly, I didn't care that I had cheated. I was exhilarated. I had scored my first deal! In a taxicab!
When I got to my office, I called a nearby salon to schedule a blow-out. Given the weather, I was planning to ask, in my most disarming way, for a rainy-day discount. Confident, after my taxi success, that I would be able to pull this off, I went ahead and tipped the stylist nearly 50 percent of the undiscounted price. She was delighted and surprised by my generosity; I was just happy to share the bounty of my anticipated negotiation skills.
At the checkout desk, I complimented the receptionist on the salon's impeccable service (appreciation). I noted that her hair was probably hard to control in rainy weather, just like mine (affiliation). And I said that I wasn't going to let the weather dictate when I was going to have a blow-out (autonomy). "It must be kind of fun to be here in the catbird seat," I told her. "I bet you get to see all kinds of interesting people passing through." (Acknowledging her status.) And finally, I asked her if she might be able to help me with something (creating a role for her and suggesting that she had authority).
"It's crappy outside, and I have to walk back to work in the rain," I said. "But my office is pretty close by. If I came in once a week for a blow-out, would you consider giving me a discount when the weather is lousy, the way it is today?"
She looked at me as if I had spoken Urdu.
"A rainy-day discount!" I said encouragingly.
"We could all use a rainy-day discount," she said grimly, ringing me up and handing me the receipt. Then she focused on the woman standing behind me. "Next!"
Grinding my teeth over the fact that I had just paid one and a half times what I usually do for a blow-out, and slightly annoyed that I hadn't asked for a birthday discount, I made my way to my dentist's office for a cleaning.
???Haggle over the price of a dental visit? I???d rather have a root canal.???