When Street Hawkers Attack! Rome, Italy.
“You’re crazzzy!” screams the young man selling tripods on a Rome sidewalk. This got my attention.
“I’m crazy?” I fire back, now face to face with the peddler.
“Yes! You’re crazy, I’m crAZY, WE’RE ALL CRAZY!” the 20-something yells while flailing his free hand into the air before walking away.
Moments before his outburst, the three of us, mainly Beth and the hawker, who we’ll call Chuck, haggled over a lightweight, cheaply constructed tripod. “What do you want to pay, maam?” Chuck asks, quickly repeating the question over and over even as Beth says she’s not interested. But this isn’t just any tripod, you see this three-legged beauty also comes with a carrying case, which Chuck is quick to point out.
“Oh, it’s great, but I was just curious about the price,” Beth says.
“What will you pay for this?” Chuck repeatedly asks, throwing out prices “25…23…22 euro.” Beth declines, trying to explain she is not interested. Then, Chuck turns to me,”What will YOU pay?”
“1 euro,” I say nonchalantly.
Clearly flustered now, Chuck squeals, “Seriously, seriously, why would you say that; 1 euro, why would you waste my time?” As I try to explain myself, this is about the time Chuck verbally bitch slaps me with his “you’re crazy” rant.
I’m still not really sure what caused Chuck’s incensed reaction. Had our negations pushed him to his limit? Was he just having a bad day? Or was this part of some twisted hawker logic: If you flip out, they will feel bad and buy?
And while this was not my first rodeo with street peddlers, I learned a very valuable lesson that evening: never try to justify yourself to a hawker, just keep walking.
Do you have any wild tales about street vendors? Or tips for bargaining with them? Feel free to share your stories or advice below in the comments.
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