If the world worked on a barter system, how would you fare? Would you have services to barter? Would you be successful, or would you struggle?
Would anyone like to exchange a 68 year old body for something fresh and new and ready to go. No offers? Ok I cannot blame you, I wouldn’t either and Mr. Swiss says if I find a dealer, then he wants to join as well. I don’t do bartering, it is not the Swiss style. Either you pay cash or forget it. We bartered once in Marrakesh, but everyone barters in Marrakesh. You want a carpet, then no problem. Of course you do not pay the offered price, it is not done, so you have a little argument and feel proud when the seller accepts your price, about half as much as he offered. It was a Beduin carpet, very colourful and I believe we still have it in the cellar. They are probably used to sit on when riding your favourite pet camel. Anyhow no problem, the Moroccans do it, it is part of daily life. They even accept your credit card. In every bazaar in the souk they have a machine. I wonder why the Moroccan sales man was smiling so friendly when we completed the deal. I had a strange feeling.
This is Jamaa El-Fna market in Marrakesh, Morocco. No wonder the people are all standing and sitting. They are waiting for their turn to use their credit cards after a bartering session. Our supermarket system is just not geared to barter.
“200 grammes of Emmentaler cheese.”
“No problem, that would be three Swiss francs.”
“How much? That is far too expensive. It has more holes than cheese. I really think you should deduct the price of the holes. Let us make it 1.50 francs.”
“That does not work Mrs. Angloswissl. We do not barter in Switzerland, the holes are tradition and we have fix prices.”
“That’s Ok, but what about a deduction for the holes. You Swiss have been getting away with that for years. I am not paying for holes, so 1.50 francs.”
“Madam Emmental cheese is Swiss tradition. If it has no holes, it would not be Emmentaler. I am sorry but no reduction.”
“I am not paying for something I am not receiving, ok then make it 1.75 francs or I will go elsewhere.”
“Then I am afraid you must go elsewhere, but you will not pay less. Our Emmental cheese gives the best value for the money.”
“Then we will do a deal. Give me 200 grammes of Gruyere cheese, without holes. How much?”
“That will be 4 francs.”
“Just a minute. I can buy 200 grammes Emmentaler with holes for three Swiss francs and now I buy 200 grammes of Gruyere for four Swiss francs.”
“Mrs. Angloswiss Gruyere cheese has no holes. We cannot sell it at a cheaper price.”
“It is not logical. Sell me the Emmentaler for 1.50 Swiss francs and we will call it a deal.”
“No deal, Emmentaler 200 grammes 3 Swiss Francs with holes, Gruyere 200 grammes 4 francs without holes.”
“But I am getting holes with Emmentaler and I am getting no extras with Gruyere for 4 francs. It does not work out.”
“Mrs. Angloswiss you are confusing me.”
“And you are cheating me. Give me the Emmentaler for 1.50 and call it a day.”
The salesman threw the cheese at me, unwrapped, full of holes. Quite a bargain, I got it free, the pleasure of barter. I took it. He was screaming “I do not sell holes” and the last I saw he was wearing a white padded jacket when they fetched him with the ambulance for the clinic. I heard he recovered after a few months and is now selling cars. I think I need a new car.