STK- Driving

Car driving through the city at night.

A couple of weeks ago, we were in New Mexico on a road trip. It was sort of a commemoration trip to mark our 40th wedding anniversary. (I hear your applause. Thank you!) Neither one of us had been to Santa Fe nor Albuquerque, so that seemed like a good enough reason to go.

It was a great trip. We only had to call AAA Roadside Service one time. The first night out at the motel in Monticello, we forgot to unplug a food cooler we have that is powered off of the battery of the vehicle.

The next morning we had a dead battery. After calling the national AAA number for help, a local mechanic/towing company guy responded. He drove all the way to us from across the street to jump-start our car.

Anyway, it turned out to be a great trip and we had a lot of fun. I don’t intend to make this column a travelogue, but I could. There will be a specific reference or story from the trip in a minute or so here – depending on your reading speed.

In future columns there may be Santa Fe references to the Georgia O’Keeffe Art Museum, The Hangover Burger at the Thunderbird Bar and Grill, the New Mexico State Capitol, or something else. As far as Albuquerque goes, I might have stories relating to a rock and roll concert by Foreigner, the Sandia Peak Tramway (world’s third longest single span), and Old Town, among additional things.

But for now, at long last, in an attempt to put something together that relates to the title of this column, I’m going to tell you about meeting a guy named Greg in Santa Fe. He has the Folk Arts of Poland Art Gallery on Don Gaspar Ave. very close to the St. Francis Hotel where we stayed.

Greg spent a long time explaining and educating us as to the dying breed of folk artists in Poland. My father-in-law’s side of the family came from Poland so this was all interesting. The old style of doing things is becoming more of a rarity.

Greg mentioned that he had a customer come in recently who was interested in a woodcarving, but was not interested in paying the full price. He was treating the place as if it was a street corner in Tijuana rather than a gallery with prices fixed by the artists and the owner of the gallery. If only he could get $100 off the work of art, he would feel good about the deal.

They finally came to some sort of agreement. The customer gave Greg his card. He was a senior vice president of a well-known financial firm. (As part of writing this episode, I went online and looked up what the average salary is for someone in his position at the firm. It’s approaching $300,000 annually.)

Greg couldn’t believe that the guy was so determined to chisel the price down on his purchase. It was like buying the carving couldn’t be a success if he had to pay full price, even though he obviously had the resources to pay.

I’ve thought a little about this concept. I know I have this “gotta find a discount” attribute in me at times in my life. There are some things I simply hate paying full price for. For example, if shoes aren’t on sale, I probably won’t buy them.

Sometimes though, it just makes sense to pay the price and get on with life. At the end of our trip, we stopped and stayed over in Kayenta, AZ; in the Monument Valley area.

In order to drive down into the Navajo Nation Tribal Park part of Monument Valley, there is a $20 fee. My United States National Park pass wasn’t valid there. I momentarily thought that I could save the $20 and just see the main rock formations from a distance.

I remembered a story my dad used to tell. He told of being part of a conversation with a couple of guys. One of them was telling about a trip he was planning to travel to London, England.

The other guy, who had been to London before, jumped right in and started telling the guy planning the vacation things like, “Now if you stay at this type of hotel or in this part of town, you can save money” and “If you go to the museums on such and so a day and time, you can get in free and you can save money.” He had lots of suggestions about how “to save money” when traveling to London.

Finally the guy who was planning the trip got a word in edgewise, “You know” he declared, “I’m not going to London to save money. If I wanted to save money, I’d stay home.”

We paid the $20 and drove into the interior of Monument Valley. I decided that I didn’t know when I’d make it there again and that the $20 saved shouldn’t be a deterrent from experiencing the place more fully. Besides, I reasoned, I could skimp on ice cream for the rest of the trip and make up the money.

We all want to feel like we’re getting a good deal when there are deals to be made in our lives. It doesn’t matter whether we’re buying a house, a car, a diamond ring, a Sunday suit or a pair of socks – we want to feel like we got a bargain.

My oldest brother has a friend who says that the reason he never sells anything is because “I don’t want to get beat twice.” The joke is, of course, that he feels like he always pays too much when he buys something, and that if he were to sell anything, he wouldn’t get an adequate sales price. Therefore, the humorous fear is getting a bad deal twice on the same item.

Some would call what we’re talking about “The Art of the Deal” or “Let’s Make a Deal” or “Hey, I’m from Sanpete, Give Me a Break.” Call it what you will, we all want to benefit by getting a discount.

It occurs to me that living in this great country of ours is, in fact, our “good deal.” It is our unique benefit. If we live with that attitude and perspective, every day is a good deal. And if you’re lucky enough to live in Sanpete, you’ve got a good deal bonus.

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