By Alijo Sylvester
Phillips was just getting ready to leave his office and he remembered that his wife had asked him to buy bananas for her on his way home. When he stepped out, he saw an ill-looking old lady across the road. She was selling fresh bananas on the street. Mr. Phillips usually buys bananas from a grocery shop few blocks away from his office but since he was in hurry to reach home on time, he thought about buying them from the old lady across the road. He went to the old lady and asked her the price in which she responded it was N200 per bunch, and he replied: “But the store where I usually buy from gives them for N100 per bunch, can you not give me for the same price?” The Old Lady replied: “No Sir, I cannot afford to match that price. I can sell them to you at N150 per bunch. That is the best I can afford to give you for.” Mr. Phillips told her, “never mind,” and left in his car towards the usual grocery shop. He went inside and picked up a good bunch of bananas and went to the cashier to pay for them but he was surprised when the cashier told him that price per bunch is N250. He told the cashier, “I have been buying bananas from here for some years and this is a steep price increase, can’t you offer me a better deal for being a loyal customer?” The Manager overheard him and came there. He told Mr. Phillips, “Sir, our prices are fixed, we do not bargain.” Mr. Phillips felt a little bad with that flat attitude. He thought for a second and put the bananas back. He went back to the old lady, who recognised him instantly and told him, “Sir, I can’t match that price, I won’t be able to earn any profit.” Mr. Phillips told her, “Don’t worry about the price, I will pay you N250 per bunch. Now, give me two bunches.” The Old lady became very happy, and packed two bunches of bananas for him and said, “I can’t take N250 but I will take N200 per bunch. I appreciate your kindness,” she said. She also told him, “My husband used to own a small fruit shop but he got very sick. We have no child nor relatives who could support us, so we had to sell his shop to cover his medical bills but he could not survive. But now to support myself I am trying to sell what I can afford to buy and sell, so I can survive for what is left of my life,” tears flowed from her eyes. Mr. Phillips told her, “Do not worry, you are doing good and from tomorrow on, I will only buy bananas from you.” He pulled out his wallet and gave her N2000 extra and said, “Take this, bring different fruits to sell tomorrow. Consider this as an advance payment for fruits I will be buying from you. You can earn more if you have more choices of fruits to sell.” The old lady thanked him. Later, he recommended many of his colleagues to buy fruits from the lady which they did. And with the support from Mr. Phillips and many other buyers, she made a better living. Often we choose to go to big malls or big grocery shops for shopping. We always pay the fixed price without bargaining. We just pay exactly what we see on the price tags and most of the times, we even leave our change for the sales girl or boy. The moment we are out of these malls or supermarket and want to buy banana or other things, our bargaining game gets off to the roof. A Poor widow with a number of hungry children at home tells you banana is N100, she even takes out her time to explain how difficult it was for her to even buy it and how the economy is so tough, but we insist that if it is not N50, we will not buy. Some of us even step back into our cars and make to drive away, but because “half bread is better non”, the woman will be forced to call you back, and even plead with you to add N20 to sum it up to N70, but you will still insist on paying N50 and she will be left with no choice than to sell to you with very little or no gain. In her heart, she cries and worries about how she will survive with her children. While you happily eat the luscious banana, take some seconds out and think about this. They do business not to buy designer bags, Gucci shoes but to LIVE and EAT. Always be helpful and supportive to someone who works hard to earn and has a need for it. Think, what Mr. Phillips had thought for a second and why he decided to go back and buy from the old lady.