Friday, April 28, 2006

The way of the weasel

Spring has at last arrived, and with it the task of beating the great outdoors into submission. Please understand, I love Bag-End, my home, with all my heart. But it IS 5 acres. And that means mowing a big-ass lawn, one of the least fun tasks ever created. We were lucky that a riding mower came with the property. But mowing the verge takes anywhere between 6 hours and three days. At the poor machine is just not up to taking on the hills and muddy valleys so they often go untouched.

So I wheedled and whined and my lovely wife agreed to go look at bigger mowers. Powerful machines with engines that could power a small airplane and wide mowing decks that can cut a path of destruction through the ever encroaching greenness outside.

We looked at several models which looked nice and promissing.I will not bore you with the details of mower tech, suffice to say that I was slightly aroused by the power these machines possessed. Then the friendly salesman told us how much one of these things costs. Sweet Jeebus! And that's before you add any baggers, plows, heated cupholders or special mowing hats.

I was about to despair. It looked like I would be spending my entire Friday chugging around the back 40 on ole Betsy. But then I remembered a piece of my own advice. Front time to time some nice young person will come into my corset shop and poke around. When I approach and ask them if they want to try something on they smile and say "Oh, I'm just looking, I can't afford one of these."

I could just let them go and consider myself lucky that I didn't waste my time. But I don't, for several reasons.

1. They could well by lying.
2. They are depriving themselves of an opportunity.

I don't clue them in to No 1. but I do tell them that the last thing you EVER want to do is tell a salesman that you can't afford it. Once I know that you are not a viable customer I have little incentive to treat you with anything besides mild contempt. After all, you aren't buying. But I really have no way of knowing for sure if you are a struggling liberal arts major or a trust fund child. I tell these innocent persons that so long as I believe that I MIGHT be able to sell them something I will treat them like royalty. I tell them about the time that I got to go on a 60 mph ride on a $260,000 cigarette boat because the owner believed I just might be interested in buying it. If I had been honest, I wouldn't have gotten the ride.

So I followed my own advice and asked about the second most expensive model. Warranty? Financing options? Can I get spinners and ground effects? And then I simply said "Well, I'd really have to try one of these out at my property before I decided" And what do you know, they offer to deliver a demo model right to my house ... for free.

Sure enough, the mower arrived today and I finished the lawn in record time with only minor damage to some trees. Oh and there was that small accident at the edge of the pond, but Rossana helped me tow it out with the van and it seemed none the worse for wear.

The salesman called up to ask how it worked and I said it was great. I was about to tell him that we would "think about it" (code for thanks for the freebie but we're not made of money) when he said that the demo model was for sale at a substantial discount. Crap, I'd been trapped by my own sales kung-fu. You see, once I get a woman to try one of our corsets on, she very often falls in love with it and has to have it. The mower? Well, we're looking at what we can get for the old one. And maybe I can hold off on a computer upgrade and a few other things...