Once I had left the limits of the salacious Soho I found another job to wage against the destitute reality of studentdom. I got an upgrade, to a designer boutique that shimmered amidst the golden glow of Knightsbridge.
One may have thought that with this geographical change I would welcome an absence of the strange behaviour I was used to, but as it turns out, these customers were in a class of their very own…
Whether it just came with the territory, or it was a contributing aspect of their extreme wealth, a lot of the ladies I was to come across (many of them officially Lady’s) were not bashful when it came to a spot of bartering. My past negotiations over pennies in the souks of Marrakesh were to seem trivial when compared to the haggling hands of this new calibre of customer.
Consistently I was asked if a ‘better price’ dangled within my grasp, a question to which my taut lipped smile would plead futility but there was, without fail, those who wouldn’t accept ‘no’ as a satisfactory response. Admittedly my smiles were consistently counterfeit, especially when my mind compared my morning’s tube journey spent thrust between a greasy window and a clammy chap, to the spacious back seat of a Bentley, which would typically unload said customer just a Louboutin clad foot from our front door.
With the bargain hunter’s beady eyes closely watching I would repeat the laborious process of telephoning every tier of the management ladder that towered above me, nodding and smiling with the receiver shoved tight against my ear for fear that they would hear what a “money grabbing, tight fisted, miser” the powers that be actually thought they were.
For all the trouble it may have gotten me in I was often tempted to accidentally-on-purpose nudge the loudspeaker button and watch contentedly as the bartering customer made an embarrassed getaway, never to be seen again.
That said, knowing the thought process of this particular breed, this would only have armed them with ample bargaining power to get what they really hunted for.
A conclusion would only be achieved after an explicit no from the company MD, at which point the Louis Vuitton purse would be presented from the Chanel handbag, and the bank card would grudgingly be thrust into my hand… and I could guarantee that it would always say Coutts.