True stories with a twist!




We were having a beautiful experience traveling through Spain; getting a sense of its history, enjoying exquisite scenery, and living the lives of jet-setters. Everyone we met was friendly, welcoming and pleasant.

Until we came upon her: an elderly local woman with a basket full of crocheted shawls. All I had to do was make initial eye contact and “my goose was cooked.” She earmarked me as a prospective customer, and nothing I could do could save me from those persistent eyes. She started to follow me across the church patio, holding up a shawl with a pleading expression on her face.

“Twenty five dollars,” she begged.

No, I said, walking away. But she persisted, following me across the plaza.

“Look. Beautiful,” she said, as she wrapped the shawl around my shoulders. “$25.00.”

Bargain with her, my inner voice coaxed. Don’t agree to the first price she offers.

Is it hand made? I asked. She held up her hands and pointed to her arthritic old fingers, signaling that she crocheted every stitch by hand. Along with the hand-showing she put on a pathetically sad, overworked, exhausted expression.

Poor old thing, I commiserated. She looks at my life, a traveling tourist able to afford the luxury of leaving my country to explore hers, while she labors away stitching these shawls. She probably sews in a room with poor light and uncomfortable back-breaking chairs. I’ll bet she lives with her family, including a bunch of small children whom she helps support. How can I haggle with her for a miserable few dollars?

I could always use a hand crocheted black shawl, I reasoned convincingly. So I gave in and paid her the full price she asked. I tucked my new purchase into my traveling bag and joined my husband and friends for a tour of the church. On the way back to the hotel, we passed a shop in town filled with local souvenirs.

There on display was a counter filled with identical shawls to the one I had just bought. Each shawl was enclosed in an individual plastic bag, indicating that it was factory made, not home sewn. On closer inspection I saw a small tag saying, “Made in China.”

They were selling for $15.00 apiece.

Comments on: "SALES RESISTANCE" (28)

  1. Wonder what her story was at the dinner table? Gotcha! 🙂

  2. I was ripped off in Madrid. I think the people are poor and do what they must to survive. Depending on the type of yarn she used, 25 dollars is not bad. Is that Yankk dollars or pesos?

  3. She would make a great ticket scalper here in America…

  4. Ronnie … Never make eye contact. Never wear or hold the goods. That’s how I got snookered into getting a kitten at the Farmer’s Market.

    Actually I went there looking for one. But that is how they hook you. The little boy asked if I’d like to hold the kitten. Yes. The next thing I know I was driving home with a kitten. 😉

    BTW, it is a beautiful shawl. 😉

  5. If you hadn’t bought it, you wouldn’t have this story to tell. Enjoy the trip!

  6. Sorry you for “taken” though I’m sure the woman still needed the money. Hope the trip was great. Lunch soon?

  7. Tourists are always marked as suckers. I remember bargaining for a beautiful hand crocheted tablecloth in Mexico. I got it VERY cheap. For years it adorned my Shabbat table and I felt guilty that I paid so little for it. Tourists can never win.

  8. “one born every minute”…..W.C. Fields had it right. (I’m one of them)! Enjoyed the story Ronnie. Your heart was in the right place. 🙂

  9. I don’t think you’re a sucker, Ronnie. I think you’re a kind-hearted person. And I am glad this happened, because it led to this post, which I found very helpful today. Many thanks to you (and the effective salesperson in the photo).

    • Thanks, Ann, but I don’t understand how it helped you today. Was some slick salesperson trying to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge?

      • It helped me because it reminded me to let go of any shame regarding being taken advantage of, lied to, or “betrayed” in any way. Having an experience like that is bad enough without my giving myself a hard time about it: e.g. “I should have known better.”

        I do like the Brooklyn Bridge, very much. Are you saying it’s for sale? Awesome!

  10. Oh, Ronnie, that incident is so sad and if you have not forgotten it, I am sure the old lady has not either. We have to live with our transgressions and I know she will remember all those she took as “suckers.” On the other hand, you may have done a great thing for her as she was obviously in need.

  11. so it’s possible she only made $10 on the transaction – that is if she had to paid $15 in the gift shop…

  12. Oh my, a good deed for a cunning scheme. You poor thing. She probably still has mouths to feed, but it certainly leaves a bitter taste in the good-deed doer’s mouth!

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