One of my business contacts in Fez palmed a piece of hashish into my pocket as
we kissed cheeks and patted backs. He asked why the several people I'd brought
through his rug souk over the years had not purchased. I told him I thought it was
because what he showed was too large, too expensive and not particularly special.
Each person I worked with was mature, independent, bright, and obviously showed taste in how
they spent their discretionary income - traveling with me through Morocco.
Mohamed, my rug merchant friend, laughed like I'd made a joke, then asked what rugs I wanted to
see. I retorted that fate caused our paths to cross again, but rugs did not play a
part. He was quick to assure me fate, indeed, intended me to become the owner of
several new rugs, saying: "I've gut sumzing veddy veddy special to show jdyou".
His helpers rolled rug after rug out for my inspection, one by one.
They soon resembled the stack of rugs a Mosque floor often sports. Two particularly
fine pieces were saved until last and both were truly special. One of the two I
wanted. I hope it didn't show. I refused to make an offer, instead waiting
until Mohamed made me a group price for three rugs. I gradually warmed to the
bargaining and offered about a quarter of the asked price.
"Do you think I deal in shoddy merchandise?" asked Mohamed, wearing a hurt look.
I thanked him for his time and gave baksheesh to the guys who had unfurled and then again rolled up
"Mohamed, my friend, thank you again. You have a beautiful shop and an adequate selection
of rugs. You simply want too much money from each transaction", I said. And I took
five steps toward his door before he had me by the arm, reseating me by the empty mint tea service.