Friday, November 07, 2008

The Home Entertainment System Story

Pragmatism has shaped us into cautious beings that will eye all shady bargains with skepticism and rejection. We’ve all thread upon these paths, paved with enticing promises and deals that are baited with indigestible consequences.

Free holiday? That will be a 2 hour time sharing talk. Free spa? That will be followed with a session of hard selling packages. Free dinner? Always comes with a favour. Free drinks? God forbid, we do not reject those, ever. Free sex? So long as that’s the only thing they’re giving free.

Have we become too plastered with skepticism that we no longer believe in genuine deals that defy all economical basis? Have we aged so snobbishly that we religiously subscribe to that one commandment of, “if it’s too good, it ain’t true”? Have we lost the will to take that leap of faith because we are dictated by staunch logic and practicality?

I know I haven’t.

I’ve done it all, and survived it. Gone for a time share and emerged with their door gifts and not a penny less. Check. Gone for a free spa and didn’t sign a package. Check. This was simple, here’s how I did it during the post massage session where they will sit you down for a session of coercion.

Sales: “How was the massage?”
Me: “Worse massage ever.”

I left her speechless for what felt like an eternity. I believe no one has ever been this so brutally honest to her before. And by the time she composed herself for a marketing defense, the ice age came and went, Iraq lost the war, 10,000 kids died of starvation and I would have wrote an international bestseller in 20 different languages, including Sanskrit.

Sales: “Maybe I can arrange for another masseuse for you next time?”
Me: “Seriously, after what I went through, I don’t think there will be even a next time.
Sales: “Erm, so I guess you won’t consider a package?

And that was that.

But on Wednesday, I did the unthinkable and bought one of the van peddling home entertainment systems; for $100.

There I was getting ready to start the day with a round at some pub, when some guy approached me and started rattling off in Mandarin. Since he didn’t come with subtitles, I smiled and walked off because all I caught him saying was,

Him: “Ni yao ma? Ni yao ma?” (“Do you want? Do you want?”)

And this was all I needed to conclude that he was trying to sell me something which I had no idea on. I didn’t know if he was trying to sell me a hamster or hamburger, because he was speaking so fast, he would have recited the entire history of China backwards in that 2 minutes he was talking. I'm serious, he speaks so fast, he will make Eminem sound like an autistic kid.

And I still had no clue what he was saying so I said what all snobbish Singaporeans would say.

Me: “No thanks.”

This puzzled him to no end so he chased up to me and said in the first line of comprehensible Mandarin. (Of which the dialogues I will be translating to English)

Him: “Free one, you don’t want?

I, like the slut I am, turned on the spot and sashayed back to him.

Me: “Free?”
Him: “Ya brother, free give you, you just take lah.”

Apparently, he told me some story about extra stocks and shit and that it was a home entertainment system worth close to $4000 and though I had no need for it, and my impression that home entertainment systems should a mini bar stocked with white spirits, I relented to take a look at the stocks.

So there I was, peering through the back of the van, and there he was, still rambling continuously in Mandarin. He was so talking so much and so fast that he started having white foam around the sides of his mouth, and I couldn’t bear confessing to him that I didn’t understand what he was saying.

Well partly because I was hoping that the foams were pre-cursors to an epileptic fit and that if he continued talking at that pace, he might go into convulsion and that would really be funny.

All I knew was that he had a home entertainment system that he wanted to off load and I knew it was never going to be free, despite his abortive effort to disguise it. I knew so because he told me that some guy in an SLK took a set from them and gave the 3 of them $500 each.

At that revelation, I started to turn and walk away and he chased up to me again to assure me that I was not obligated to give that amount, but a small token of coffee money was all they asked for. I gave them what I believed was my best offer for a system reputedly worth $4000.

Me: “I’ll give you $100.”

I don’t know whether he started laughing because I offered more than what he expected of me or that he was recalling a scene from some sitcom, because all he did for the next 3 seconds, was laugh. I make people happy all the time.

Him: “Brother, you serious anot? $100 for a home entertainment system?
Me: “Yes.”
Him: “You’re not joking?”
Me: “No. $100 is all I got. You want, I’ll buy it.”

There was some huge discussion between them that I thought they were selecting the new leader for Causeway Bay or that they were planning how they would show me the middle finger. Then he turned back to me and started bargaining again.

It was like Bangkok all over again. He wanted $600 and I wanted to walk. He wanted $500 and I started laughing. He wanted $300 and I was still laughing. I said $100 and he started frowning. This went on for a good 5 minutes and then he even threw in some sob story,

He: “Brother help us abit. I one month pay only $900, how to survive?
Me: “Wow, that’s like working for MacDonald’s, minus the Big Mac meals and free coke.”

He didn’t think I was even remotely funny because he didn’t laugh at all. I was so much funnier when I said “$100”.

Then finally,

He: “Open your car door, we’ll load it.”
Me: “$100.”
He: “Ya lah.”

I was so proud of my purchase that I spent dinner telling Faith, Germ, LB and Ange about it. Apparently, everyone of them thought I was a moron. All of them thought spending $100 on it was an utter waste of money and they were convinced that I was duped into buying an empty box.

Germ: "I can't imagine you would waste money and be duped like that."
Me: “It’s just $100 anyway, I spend like twice the amount a night on drinks anyway.”
Ange: “Yes, at least you get to enjoy the drinks.”
Me: “And I will enjoy this while watching Nights at Rodanthe. Why are you guys so convinced that the speakers don’t work?”
LB: “Obviously they don’t. If I’m your dad, I won’t even let you set it up. It might blow up your TV.”

All of them were utterly convinced that I had probably bought toy speakers and that there was no way the speakers would work, or even if they did, they would either be an explosive hazard or break down half way into a movie.

We shall see.


At 10:50 PM, Anonymous WG said...

must be fenced goods. but it must be a good buy.

At 1:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

so was it a good buy?


At 10:30 AM, Anonymous tongueout said...

yeah how did it turn out?
do let us know!

At 12:31 AM, Anonymous Ecstasy said...

I checked it out online its just a worldwide ploy. I bought it too and offloaded it again quick saying it wouldn't fit into my room heh.

At 12:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you are a hero!

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