In every age there are certain people who achieve such outstanding excellence in their chosen field of endeavour they become legendary. Shakespeare. Van Gogh. Wayne Gretzky. And, I would add to that list, my mother-in-law, Glenda.
Glenda shops. No, the rest of us shop. We average consumers decide we need something, go into a store, determine if the price is reasonable and buy it. That’s shopping. That sort of shopping is to Glenda what a round of miniature golf would be to Tiger Woods.
To Glenda, a garage sale is like shooting fish in a barrel. Glenda big-game bargain hunts. She makes shopping an extreme sport. In her world, store flyers become racing forms. And the “suggested retail price” is merely an opening bid.
Among our circle of friends to “Glenda” a purchase means you talked the seller down to half the ticket price, snagged a gift with purchase and got a voucher for a free lunch. Minimum. She’s got membership pricing from stores that don’t actually offer memberships.
Recently, I managed a “Glenda.” In a local junk store, I spotted three pieces of Evesham china. I love Evesham china. I do not own Evesham china because it costs more than china should cost unless it comes with a car or a small country. But I thought, possibly, at junk shop rates, I could afford one piece.
The clerk announced, “We’re selling all three pieces together.” My heart sank. “And,” she said, “the price is seven.”
There was a long pause as my brain tried to connect the number seven with anything that made sense in terms of the normal price of these items. Seven camels? Seven years of indentured servitude? Seven years of paying it off on my Visa? Finally, I sputtered, “Seven dollars?”
I left the store with that Ikea ad running in my head, “Start the car! Start the car!” raced to Glenda’s place and proudly displayed my prize. Her eyes glistened. Then she said what made me realize how truly outclassed I was. “Did you try to talk them down?”
In northern Vietnam there are a people called the Red Daos. Travellers report this tribe has taken the art of haggling to heights unseen in the rest of the world. If someday Glenda goes missing, I’ll know she’s been spirited away, asked to be their queen. But she’ll refuse. She’ll hold out for goddess.