I WAS at an appointment the other day with a person from whom I required graphics work.
I asked if I could have a discount as I’d only allocated a certain amount of money to the job and at her rates, we were going to run over budget. “No,” she replied, simply and without emotion. “I don’t do discounts.”
She went on to explain why. I found it a most interesting observation. “People tell you they need a discount because they’re short of cash, or they haven’t budgeted on such an amount. But here’s the truth. Most people have some spare cash lying around, it’s just that they prioritise how they’re going to spend it. You might say you only have $50 an hour to give me, then go and spend $200 on a new dress.
“I don’t judge what you spend your $200 on. We all need money to soothe the soul. But if you decide on a dress, or a night on the town, or to put that money in the bank for your trip to Bali, then you won’t be working with me.”
I was flabbergasted initially and then I remembered a beef I’d had with an acquaintance who couldn’t afford to come to a business dinner I’d arranged. Later I heard from a friend that she’d bought herself an antique brooch at auction. I was offended, but why? Don’t we all do it? I recently said no to my daughter who asked me to replace our tired old printer, pleading poverty. Only to find myself accidentally at the beauty therapist; but feeling very guilty.
“I just don’t buy the ‘I have no money’ routine,” said the graphic designer. “We all have some disposable income. We all prioritise.”
Time is much the same. Being back at university, I’m seriously time-poor at the moment, forced to give up my normal social life. But I do find myself watching mindless TV. I know why I do it. The brain simply can’t take another conversation. I’m not judging the choices we make, simply admitting that we do say no to a friend then turn on the 1000th repeat of Seinfeld.
I love a cartoon on my sister’s fridge. It depicts a man booking in to see another. The secretary with the diary open is saying cheerfully: “How about never? Does never work for you?” Such would be a brave new world of unwanted honesty.