Good Guys

Act One. Takes One To Know One

Ira Glass
Act One, Takes One to Know One. So after 11 months of stalling, Ben finally headed out to get himself the good guy discount wearing a microphone hidden underneath his shirt. I went with him.

Ben Calhoun
First place we go, a baby store. It's a big national chain. I've bought stuff at this particular store before. And for a test, I chose one of these baby items that's mind-blowingly expensive, so much so that it's hard to imagine anyone actually buying it. It's a blanket for a stroller. It cost $190. My thought in doing this is that the markup is probably so insane that it'd make it easier to give a discount. Anyway, so I grab one, and I get in line.

Ben Calhoun
Now I feel nervous.

The whole pitch still makes me queasy. But I'm committed to selling it as best I can. There's one cashier working.

Ben Calhoun
Hey, how are you doing today?

Cashier 1
I'm good.

Ben Calhoun
Oh, good. What's the total on that?

Cashier 1
$206.85.

Ben Calhoun
Is there any way I could get, like, a good guy discount on that?

Cashier 1
Good guy discount? I don't think we don't do those.

Ben Calhoun
[LAUGHING]

It's hard to hear. But when I ask for the discount, she cracks a smile and kind of laughs and says, good guy discount? We don't do those.

Ben Calhoun
Are there any promotions coming up, or is this going to go on sale anytime soon or anything? No, nothing?

I leave the thing on the counter. So first attempt-- we're 0 for 1. Ira felt like I should have tried harder, and for the next one, I should keep the thing going longer, lean harder on the shtick-- I'm a good guy, you're a good guy, what do you say? I am not so sure. So next stop.

Ben Calhoun
Yeah, I guess I'll try the nine first. Do they run a little big?

This item-- winter boots. We go to a big, big sporting goods store, though not a chain just in case some strict corporate policy had been the problem at the baby store.

Cashier 2
The following customer can step down.

Ben Calhoun
At the registers, I get called up. There's a woman, maybe late 20s. She's got a lot of makeup. She looks fed up with something. My thought is, I'll smile a little more, be a little more friendly.

Ben Calhoun
I know this is going to sound silly. Is there any kind of good guy discount I can get on those?

Cashier 2
No, we don't offer-- it's just whatever the vendor sells it for.

Ben Calhoun
So there's no promotions that I'm missing out on or--

Cashier 2
No.

Ben Calhoun
0 for 2. She sends me on my way.

Cashier 2
Here you go. Have a good one.

Ben Calhoun
Have a good one. It's like, have a nice day, with all the friendly burned off. So Ira and I head outside.

Ira Glass
You didn't push it very far. You still just kept it to one sentence before you caved.

Ben Calhoun
No, but I came back with the-- so there's not any sales or promotions that I'm missing out on?

Ira Glass
That's different than selling her the good guy discount.

Ben Calhoun
You mean being like, come on, I'm a good guy.

Ira Glass
Uh huh. Yeah, you still haven't said that.

Ben Calhoun
Oh, that feels-- but you know what? I feel like I could tell that she was going to say no.

Ira Glass
No. No, I couldn't tell.

Ben Calhoun
At that point, all you're doing is humiliating yourself.

We go around and around. Until we remember, oh right, we can just find out. Ira goes back in.

Ira Glass
My friend was just in here, and he tried to get a discount from you. He asked you for a good guy discount. Like, five minutes ago.

Cashier 2
Yes. Yes, I recall.

Ira Glass
If he had pushed harder, could he have gotten a discount?

Cashier 2
No.

Ira Glass
If he had been more charming? Do you get an employee discount that you could have swiped a card and given him? Do you have any kind of discount at all that you have any kind of power to give him?

Cashier 2
No. It's just a store policy.

Ira Glass
If your sister came in here or something, could you give her a discount?

Cashier 2
No.

Ira Glass
But you get a discount, right?

Cashier 2
Right, which I'm rung up by another fellow manager or associate.

Ben Calhoun
See? All of this brings us to attempt number three, record store. Yeah, they do still exist. I grab what should amount to $70 worth of records. I go to the counter. Behind it, there's a serious record store guy-- black hoodie, black wool hat, hair sticking out of the front.

Cashier 3
How are you doing?

Ben Calhoun
Hey, is there any way I could get, like, a good guy discount on those?

Cashier 3
No.

Ben Calhoun
Not like a bulk?

Cashier 3
No, not for new stuff. No. Because we barely make a profit on that stuff. Yeah, so I'm afraid not.

Ben Calhoun
I mean, so many nos in such a tiny, tiny answer. I counted them-- five nos in 8.7 seconds. It's like a Russian nesting doll of no. And really, I would argue it's hard to say no that thoroughly unless you actually want to say no, unless you think you're being asked for something stupid by someone stupid.

This is what I believed would happen. And this one, it makes me 0 for 3. And I've got to say, it felt bad. And it raised the obvious question, what does Sonari have that I don't? As we headed back to the office, Ira said, maybe he's just more charming and better looking. So I called Sonari, and I asked him something that I probably should have asked him before, which is, exactly how often does this work for him?

Sonari Glinton
I would say 15 to 20% of the time.

Ben Calhoun
20%-- that's actually a lot of nos. He only gets one out of five. I tried three times. So I needed two more tries. Fine.

Ben Calhoun
Hey.

Cashier 4
Hey.

Ben Calhoun
So here we are, number four. The item is a clock. And here we go.

Ben Calhoun
Is there any way that you guys would give like a good guy discount on that?

Cashier 4
No, I'm sorry.

Ben Calhoun
No, not at all?

0 for 4. I head to a small cookware shop. And if Sonari's stats are one in five, this is the big game, do or die time. If the good guy discount is real for me, then this is it.

Ben Calhoun
Could I ask you, this All-Clad pot up here, would you guys ever give like a good guy discount on this?

Sales Associate
On All-Clad?

Ben Calhoun
Yeah.

Sales Associate
You know, it's hard. I could probably do about 5%.

Ben Calhoun
Like the sword from the stone, my friend. Behold-- the good guy discount. Apparently, it can work for anybody. It'll work for you. But can we can just stop for a second? Just stop.

And I know that this is going to sound super earnest. And I'm real sorry about that. But I believe it, so I've got to say it. I don't think that you should try it. I'm not going to try it again. Sorry, Sonari.

I just don't think that we should go throwing around the term "good guy," like it's some kind of coupon. I think that "good guy" means something. Just the other day, I was with my son and my dad. And my kid is eating cake. He's two. He loves cake. And he's got one bite left. And I say, can I have a bite? And he looks up at me. And he holds out his hand, offers me his last bite.

And my dad says, what a good guy. When I was a kid, he used to say that to me too. I like the way the world looks during those moments. I think I'd rather have whatever that is than a discount.

Ira Glass
Ben Calhoun is one of the producers of our program.


 

 

 

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