Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Stress Levels II - A Tailor's Tale

I'm beginning to think I've been 'in the desert too long' In the last 3 days I have had 3 very un Asian confrontations. In other words rather than avoid them as one is supposed to here, I went all out, terrier fashion for a good ol' head to head. I just got fed up, firstly by the selfishness of the driving here, and secondly the way everyone tries to take you for a ride and rip you off. Ironic when the wealth of rich Sri Lankans is in a league way beyond most Brits, yet the assumption is we're the ones with all the cash.

People do 3 point turns in the middle of busy roads every day, they pull out in front of you forcing you to brake REALLY hard, they push in. This incident wasn't huge, but it was the straw that broke this desert camel's back.

I was in the car indicating, waiting to pull into a parking place, whilst a car pulled out of the place, whereupon once free, a guy in a huge 4WD on the outside of me pulled across and swung into the parking place. My parking place! I leapt out of my car, marched over to the car opened his driver's door, and asked him what he was doing and whether he thought I had been saving the place especially for him. You get the drift I'm sure....

He just smiled and smiled at me and said nothing, and closed his door, probably very embarrassed that I had broken the cultural taboo and was confronting him. His 'employer' in the back told him to pull out and let me in. I'm sorry but in this instance it was just selfish thoughtlessness and I'm not going to refuse to confront such anti-social behaviour just because it's un Asian to do so.

Second stressy event; I went to a tailors to get some things made because it's so cheap here. I had met the tailor several times because M had asked me to go with him for a fitting. He was very friendly, and we had had a joke together. Then it was down to business. I was first told that the 2 items were far too tricky and couldn't be copied without being simplified. This happened to me once before when I tried to get a tailor to make a bow tie. I obviously wear highly complex clothes...

Then I was told that even simplified, the designs "though they look simple, madam, are in fact very complicated" I knew then that he was angling toward discussing the price. A high price. He quoted me double what he had quoted when there before with my husband. Do I have gullible stamped on my forehead, I sometimes wonder??

I just had had enough. I told him he had been recommended, he was already more expensive than other places but we didn't mind paying a bit more because he did good quality work. But I told him I had been making my own clothes since I was 12, had made my own wedding dress, and the only reason I wasn't making these was because my sewing machine had broken. (Sounds a bit overdone, but all actually true) I explained that I really did know what was difficult and what wasn't.

To paraphrase, I said, "You make jackets, suits, women's evening dresses everyday and you try and tell me a top with no zip, no buttons, no collar etc etc will be expensive because it will be so hard to make? You're ripping me off just because I'm a Westerner. And that, as we say in Britain, is just not cricket."

I was in full sail, the spinnaker up and blasting across the stormy seas.

It leaves you with a bad taste in the mouth. you think you have struck up a good rapport and will embark on a fair and mutually agreeable transaction, when actually they just look at the colour of your skin, see dollar signs and also decide to assume you are gullible and stupid into the bargain, as they quote ridiculous prices at you. It's plain offensive.

Of course M says I should have just walked out, but by then I had spent 45 mins having measurements done etc, (because I thought I knew the prices from last time) and would need to start from square one and find somewhere else. And you know, I'm just weary. I can't face being principled or standing my ground on everything ALL the time, and marching off. So instead I haggled for all I was worth, and brought him down by almost 50%. He's still getting more than double what many tailors will charge, but I haven't had a good recommendation for a good, cheap tailor, just a long list of ones to avoid.....

As for the 3rd encounter, well I haven't even the energy to write about it, but you get the pciture I'm sure....

1 comment:

Iota said...

Sounds like the knowledge that you aren't going to be there much longer has given the inclination to challenge things that you just accepted in the past. The word 'weary' stood out of this post for me - but perhaps I'm just projecting.