I've been in China for the last couple of weeks, I have to say not thinking much about mediation - but having arrived in Shanghai, this city forces me to negotiate from the moment I exit the temperamental revolving hotel door and plunge into the sweaty, steamy streets of downtown - negotiating the taxi, the Rolex man, the bottled water guy - heck, even my small space on the pavement as I walk with 19m Shanghai-ites.
So it was I ended up in Li Pau's store at C - 109, Pudong Ya Tai Xin Yang Market late yesterday, tired and impossibly hot but warming to the idea of a new watch to keep in reserve for all the early mornings I misplace my trusty 20 year old timepiece. She had a lovely smile and was quieter than her neighbours who had identical wares on show, so I caught her eye and entered her stall. Unusually, she let me look around uninterrupted then enquired 'you want?'.
Soon, with 150 watches strewn on her dirty counter, I narrowed it down to just five, two, then one. I was tired.
We both looked at each other, knowing what we were obliged to do next.
So, in a counter-intuitive moment and thinking of an unpleasant encounter earlier in the day where I left not enough in the deal for my guy to be happy, I enquired 'we bargain or just say finish price...?'
She smiled, cocked her head and looked to Susan and the kids who were eager to score Dad out of ten on the encounter, and tapped RMB 220 ($20) out on the calculator.
It was a fair price and I took it.
Trust and counter-intuitive thinking - even in the back alleys of Shanghai - well I never!
(and, yes Dear Reader, of course this Scotsman tested the hell out of that RMB220 right around the corner - closest I got was RMB450)