What lengths would you go to for a good deal?


I’m a big fan of a good deal. In fact, culturally speaking, you could say I’m genetically predisposed to it. People are usually surprised to hear that I’m Jewish. For starters I’m particularly non-Jewish looking, if that’s even a thing. And with the surname Nick, you wouldn’t immediately assume I was any particular religion at all. I usually have to explain how in the olden days, before the war, our family was actually named Nickeloskowich or Nickobromowitz or Nickelcohen or something but it was shortened in transit, and so today we are the Nicks.

And Paige isn’t a particularly Jewish Christian name either, so that doesn’t help when it comes to explaining myself. If I were a boy I’d at least have some tiny way of showing proof that I’m Jewish, but as a woman I only have my words to convince people. I find if I throw out the odd bit of matzah talk or the random oy vey, they tend to come around eventually. But regardless of the ridiculous clichés that surround every religion, I believe the desire to get a good deal is inherent in all human beings.

Recently while away for the weekend visiting a small town in the middle of nowhere, South Africa, I found myself in one of those shops where they sell Hike instead of Nike and Bollabings, instead of Billabongs. You know the kind.

When I asked the price of a particular pair of shoes and the shopkeeper told me they were R90, something primal kicked in and I managed to bargain him down to R70. But then when the time came to pay I just couldn’t bring myself to undercut the poor guy on a lousy pair of shoes, so I paid him the full R90 anyway.

A friend reckons that at that precise point my Jewish instinct and my Jewish guilt collided.
I didn’t really want to stiff the guy out of 20 bucks, I just wanted to know that I could have. The whole episode got me thinking about the lengths to which people go to get free stuff. Earlier this year a supermarket on the German/Danish border launched with an interesting opening special.

They offered their first 100 customers free groceries to the value of €270 (about R3 000), but to qualify they had to do their shopping completely naked. And so on an unfortunately chilly morning, the supermarket opened its doors and the naked people streamed in. The news footage isn’t nearly as sexy as I thought it was going to be. There’s something about nudity — it almost always looks better in your mind and in Hollywood movies, than in real life.

If you don’t believe me visit a nudist beach some time. Gravity and lighting are simply not on our side. In the clips on YouTube you can watch as more than 100 Germans and Danes cruise the supermarket loading up their trolleys in nothing but their socks. It all just feels a little unhygienic to me. I don’t know why — I didn’t see a single one roll around naked among the cabbages, or fondle a zucchini — but still, just the thought of all that nakedness around my food kind of leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Perhaps it would have been a more appropriate promotional idea for a clothing store? Arrive naked, leave clothed. Not arrive naked and leave naked, but with
toilet paper and milk.

Not surprisingly, in the footage 99% of the shoppers made a naked bee-line for the alcohol aisle, where they filled their trolleys with bottles and bottles of booze. I suppose you can’t blame them, they’re all going to have to drink an awful lot to forget what they’ve seen. Personally I’d have to drink way more than R3 000 worth of booze to get over watching a 60-year-old, obese,
naked German man reaching for the Frangelico on the top shelf.

I tell you what they should have been buying instead of alcohol: clothes or salad perhaps. So yes, while there are a lot of things I would be willing to do to get a good deal, walking around a supermarket naked, clutching my shopping list, would not be one of them. And if you disagree with me, just look around next time you’re at your local Checkers and imagine all those people naked. Clean-up in aisle three, I repeat, clean-up in aisle three!

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