Good Guys

Prologue

Ira Glass
OK, here's what intrigued Ben. His friend Sonari told him that he'd come up with this thing. And there's no way to say this without sounding like an infomercial. But Sonari was doing this thing that was saving him lots of money.

And Sonari is exactly the kind of person who would know about this kind of thing. He's a business reporter. He's one of our colleagues at NPR news. Anyway, here's Ben.

Ben Calhoun
He told me he was just saving on everything. He used it for shoes, for clothes, big stuff like new tires.

Ira Glass
Ben, by the way, is This America Life producer Ben Calhoun. He and Sonari are buddies. And Ben says that Sonari came up with this new financial strategy one day when Sonari was shopping for shoes.

Ben Calhoun
And he realized that all the shoes that he wanted were the super-expensive shoes.

Ira Glass
Oh.

Ben Calhoun
Yeah, yeah. And he keeps coming back to this pair that's way too expensive. And he stays there for hours stressing about this decision. Until finally, he caved. So he's like, I'm just going to do it. I'm going to do it. I'm going to do it. So he got up to the counter. And this is what he says happened.

Sonari Glinton
I remembered this thing a guy that I had interviewed had talked about about the good guy discount.

Ira Glass
The good guy discount?

Ben Calhoun
The good guy discount. This is the thing. Sonari, he'd interviewed this negotiations expert from Columbia University Business School. And the guy told him about this technique where you say, can I get a good guy discount on that? You're a good guy, I'm a good guy-- come on, just, you know, a good guy discount.

Ira Glass
And this works for the professor?

Ben Calhoun
Yeah, it's supposed to be a thing.

Ira Glass
Wow.

Ben Calhoun
So Sonari remembered this when he was about to buy these shoes. And honestly, he didn't think it was going to work.

Sonari Glinton
And I go, hey, is there a good guy discount? And he goes, what? You've seen me here all day. You know I want these shoes. It's tough for me, blah, blah, blah. And he looks at me, and he goes, I'll tell you what, brother. And he swiped the card.

Ben Calhoun
Like his little authorization card.

Sonari Glinton
Yeah. And he goes, I'll give you 25% off.

Ira Glass
25% off?

Ben Calhoun
Mm-hmm.

Sonari Glinton
It was the most positive reinforcement you could ever get. I was so happy.

Ira Glass
So Sonari told Ben all this, because Sonari had started doing this all the time, asking for the good guy discount. And he thought that Ben should try it too. And Ben suggested this might be a good radio story for our show. And all of us here at the radio show, we all said great.

And we all told him, of course, as part of the story, you're going to have to go out and try to get the discount yourself. And Ben turned red and started to squirm. But he said, sure. And we put it onto our story list. This was last February.

11 months have gone by. And now and then, one of us would remember this at a story meeting and say, whatever to happened to that good guy discount thing? And Ben would get all embarrassed. And it was clear he was just hating the idea that he was going to actually have to go out in the world and do this thing. He could not bring himself to.

Ben Calhoun
I just could not get over the pitch itself. It's so cheesy.

Ira Glass
To say, like, I'm a good guy, you're a good guy.

Ben Calhoun
Yeah. I think it's kind of smarmy. I love Sonari. I love Sonari. I think that Sonari is a wonderful person. But it traffics in this term of good guy when it's nonsense.

It's me saying, I'm a good guy, which I feel like it's the kind of thing of saying, I'm so humble. The second part of it is, you're saying, and the thing I'm going to do as a good guy is I'm going to ask you to do me a favor and cost yourself money. That's what a good guy I am. And I don't know. I find it to be not the behavior of a good guy.

Ira Glass
A good guy, Ben said, would not make somebody else uncomfortable on purpose. And he was convinced that asking for a good guy discount, it puts the sales person on the spot.

Ben Calhoun
You're asking them to break the rules for you for absolutely no reason. And I hate making other people feel uncomfortable.

Ira Glass
I have a different take on it than you do. I think it shows moxie. And the good guy discount is part of what makes this country great, even if Sonari is the only one who's doing it, that impulse of just-- I'm just going to go for it. I'm going to say something that's ridiculous and corny and just see if it works. I mean, in the movies, that's what gets the girl. In the movies, that's what makes you a hero.

Ben Calhoun
If I were to try this three times, how many times do you think it would work?

Ira Glass
One.

Ben Calhoun
So here's one question before I go in. Is it important that I do the whole, I'm a good guy, you're a good guy?

Ira Glass
You've got to say something. What else are you going to say?

Well, today on our radio program-- good guys. We have four stories, including I go with Ben as he tries to find out whether or not he has what it takes to get free stuff by claiming to be a good guy, even though he worries that doing that, trying the entire exercise, means that he is not a good guy at all.

Because, friends, it is a struggle sometimes to know what a good guy would and would not do. And in each of our stories today, we have guys trying to find that line, trying to stay on one side of the line, trying to stay good guys in a world where we all know that can be very, very difficult. From WBEZ Chicago, it's This American Life, distributed by Public Radio International. I'm Ira Glass. Stay with us.


 

 

 

© 2012 Chicago Public Media & Ira Glass