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The Price of Haggling - 1997

"Vous ne pouvez pas laisser votre moto la!" The irritating little man sneered for the tenth time.

"I know, I know, je sais, je sais." I growled through clenched teeth. "I'm just unloading my bike so sod-off."

I had just rented a room for the next few nights at Le Hotel Maroc when from nowhere, riding an egregiously smoking scooter, a slimy looking man, knee-high to a grasshopper and wildly gesticulating descended upon me, ranting about my bike parked outside. I had already talked to the receptionist, a friendly young guy with little skill in English but great enthusiasm, about where to leave my bike overnight. He had suggested a garage down the street where I could pay to store my bike.

The new arrival was anything but friendly and seemed completely unable to understand my limited attempts at French only getting more animated by the second. I briefly wondered what exactly I was saying. Perhaps he misunderstood my pidgin French. Perhaps I was comparing his wife to a camel or asking to buy his daughter? Both, quite possible, knowing my grasp of the French language. Eventually, with the aid of the receptionist, who seemed better able to understand my French, "scooter-man" calmed down. Thinking that was the end of it I finished unloading my bike.

My room was excellent! Well at least a vast improvement on the last one. Large, clean and with a spacious feel to it, it even had a washbasin! My shuttered, first floor window overlooked a pleasant central courtyard. All in all not bad for a little under three quid a night. After arranging my gear and having a quick wash I headed downstairs to sort out my bike. To my horror "scooter-man" was still standing at the hotel reception. I ignored him and walked out to my bike. He followed. Quickly overtaking me he jumped onto his scooter and positioned himself in front of my bike. As I got on to my bike he beckoned me to follow him, obviously wanting to show me the way to the garage. By now I was seething, as far as I could see the little scum bag, after being so rude to me, wanted to guide me to a garage which was about three hundred yards up the road and which I had passed on the way to the hotel, and, no doubt, charge for the service.

My bike roared into life and, wheels spinning, I shot straight pass "scooter-man" almost knocking him down. He gave chase honking his horn furiously. By the time he reached the garage I was engaged in haggling a price for parking with the pump attendant. Screeching to a stop, "scooter-man" jumped off his bike and started babbling to the pump attendant, who then indicated that I must deal with "scooter-man" instead of him. Unhappy at this turn of events, but with no other choice, I squared up to "scooter-man", my now sworn enemy, and prepare to haggle to the death!

It took me about an hour to find another place to park and after a long walk back to the hotel I collapsed on my bed exhausted. After a ferocious bout of haggling, in which I battered "scooter-man" down from 20 dirhams (1.40) to 10 dirhams (70p) a night, I told him, more out of spite than anything, to shove it were the sun don't shine, and rode off. He wasn't happy. However, lying now, drained and thirsty, I wish I had swallowed my pride and accepted "scooter-man's" price. In the end I paid 5 dirhams (30p) a night, but the saving just wasn't worth it.



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