Sunday, July 6, 2014

Money and Massage at the Mall

“You can get anything at the mall,” I said to Oren from Deep Sea Cosmetics, as he hugged my wife and me both good-bye. 

Oren was personable, knowledgeable, and gracious.
Like women everywhere, Laurel is religiously dedicated to her skin. Like merchants everywhere, Oren insisted that she buy more. "You must keep a secret," he said. "You cannot tell anyone that this is my special price for you."  Like the market scene in Casablanca he held up a calculator to show the price.  It displayed four digits and no decimals. "All of this is yours;  and I will add one of these..."  

Long ago, while lost in the stacks at the Michigan State University Library, I found a 19th century book from the great days of race science.  It showed a migration: from Brythinia in Turkey, to Beirut in the Levant, to Bruttium in Italy, to Britannia in the north.  I showed it to Laurel.  "That explains a lot about the Scots and the Jews," she said back then.  She and Oren haggled like Presbyterians for an hour and half while he applied his cosmetics to remove her wrinkles, nourish her skin, and invigorate her collagen.  

I had my own experience earlier.  I found a booth that sells money from around the world: euros, yen, UK pounds, renminbi, and more.  They even exchange £1 and £2 coins as well well as €1 and €2 coins. The best deal from Travelex: Worldwide Money is a $1250  "Cash Passport" Mastercard. You get the best exchange rate of the day on "leftover currency" with no exchange fees. I just wanted some renminbi; and she sold me the absolute minimum: 10 rnb for $1.87.  I took it as two 5s.  The clerk said that she does transactions in both directions: people from abroad shopping at the mall come to her for dollars, as often as Americans on their way out get currency.


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