Archive | February 10, 2012

Differences of Opinion

For @inventrix’s commissioned continuation of


Mrs. Gent was either very easy to flatter, or she simply liked to play the game. She giggled happily at me. “You’re too sweet, dear. Thank you so much.”

“Thank you,” Jordan tried, and, after another moment sipping lemonade, “I don’t see prices on anything?”

“Oh, Mr. Ting sets all the prices when he sees the customer,” she chuckled, as if Jordan had said something silly. “You can’t just write prices on a shelf and expect them to be right all the time. As it is, sometimes we have to change our labels.”

“The labels, really?” That startled me, and Jordan was still stewing over the price thing. “I see some of them aren’t in English.”

“But some of them are,” she snapped. I’d hit an invisible nerve. “And what you need will be labeled for you, and priced for you, by Mr. Ting.”

“He sounds like a very hands-on guy.” So now Jordan was pissed, and Mrs. Gent was pissed, and I was feeling under fire for no good reason, which, yes, I’ll admit it, made me feel kinda pissed off too.

“He is,” Mrs. Gent answered coolly. “He prefers to handle each of his customers with the individual attention they deserve, whatever language they speak.”

“So, wait.” The language thing had clearly tweaked her, but I really didn’t understand why. “You’re saying that the signs are in the languages of the people who might need them? Ma’am.” I didn’t want to get kicked out before we’d had a chance to ask Mr. Ting for an air conditioner. I really, really didn’t want to go home without one.

“Yes, exactly. How else would you do it?”

“Uh…” Jordan frowned. “Generally, stores that we go into around here – that is, in this city – have signs in the language of the neighborhood, or just in English, or both. And the price is the same for everyone.” That part was added sharply. None of this “pricing for the customer.” I think it stunk of prejudice for Jordan; I know it smelled a little bit like that for me.

“What a strange way to do business,” Mrs. Gent complained. “But then, if you don’t read English, or whatever this language of the neighborhood is, then how do you shop?”

“With practice?” I spent a lot of time shopping in Asian food markets; I knew how this worked. “Or buy pointing and gesturing.”

“It seems very inefficient. And the prices?”

“The same for everyone,” Jordan repeated.

“So for you two and, for example, a … what is the word… fat-cat businessman, the same price for a radio?”

“The same.”

“That doesn’t seem right,” she frowned. “When Mr. Ting returns, perhaps I shall go looking at these stores. But in the meantime,” she said firmly, “you are in our store, and our store does not work that way.”

“I see.” Jordan looked with a frown at the lemonade. “We are.” We exchanged a short glance: we were, more or less, stuck with this. We needed that air conditioner.

Next is The “A” Shelves!

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