Realizing that Mike and I were more than a casual fling, his former roommate handed him a cup of coffee. Why? Coffee is for closers. A reference from Glengarry Glen Ross.
The lesson in this real estate/business drama – ABC. Always Be Closing.
Now while I have worked in this business for the past 20 years, that’s not what this post is about; rather, this post is about food. In particular, our sabbatical mealtimes.
When Mike and I were first dating, I was a one dish girl. I ordered what I wanted and I didn’t share. Mike, however, came from a sharing background. He offers his, then expects a taste in return. Admittedly, this horrified me early on. I was not prepared to give up my meal. I came from a long line of women that had to protect their meals from the other men in the family, “Are you done with that?” “Are you going to eat that?” (This was typically asked while the food was already leaving our plates on their forks.)
So when Mike first offered me a bite of his food, I was greatly uncomfortable. Of course I wanted a taste, but did that mean I had to offer one in return? It was a serious conflict.
Fortunately, I got over that and I learned to swap bites with him, sampling a variety of foods I had never tried before. Now, fast-forward a decade and he and I usually share entire plates. He picks a dish. I pick a dish. We swap halfway through. It’s a great way to try a couple items you might find interesting on a menu. It’s been this way for years now.
But what I wasn’t expecting, least of all on this sabbatical, was the outright, cutthroat negotiating that has since insued. And it’s not between Mike and I. Our kids, Mr. N and Miss A are now fully involved in the negotiations; and it’s turned into Wall-Street-esque deal making.
It started innocently enough. One day, Mr. N offered to split a dish with his dad. No problem. I wasn’t interested in the options. But the next time…a deal had already been cut between Mike and I, when Mr. N popped in and tried to win Mike over to his side. And he won.
I was shocked. Just like that I had lost my deal and Miss A had no interest in my two options. But three could play at this game. So at the next meal, Mike and I both battled for Mr. N. Miss A was still a lone hold out for her own dish at this point (however, this was not to last for long).
Table discussions were fast-paced, heated – bribery and under the table dealing might have been involved. It was a no-hold-bar negotiation; and one had to Always Be Closing to hope to make the deal.
Then, not wanting to be left out, and seeing the benefits of trying different meals, Miss A decided to join the melee. Now the games were on.
The kids quickly learned how to assuage me – truffles did you say? And their father as well, sausage? Red meat?
Negotiations became intense and fast. There’s no time to dilly dally. In Europe we find the waiters are quick to take your order, but then leave you to enjoy the meal. (A much preferred alternative to the states where they give you time to order, but then rush you out of the restaurant after finishing your meal.) In all seriousness, it’s almost impossible to find a waiter to get your check upon finishing here. They want you to linger. I love it! But that means we order fast and sometimes alliances are made on the fly. “Wait – you two are going in together?!” And like that it’s done.
You snooze, you lose. You have to be fast. You have to make your point quickly and effectively. It’s your 30-second elevator pitch and you must Always Be Closing.
Fortunately we’re only dealing with food here and no one really ends up unhappy; eventually we all end up with a sample of something we want. But man is it fun! Who knew picking from a menu could be so entertaining. And this is just the main course round – we haven’t even started on dessert!
This is one of my favorite developments on sabbatical. Perhaps it’s all the training they had at home, sampling foods from around the world. Or maybe it’s genetic, passed down from Mike’s ability to share food (it certainly doesn’t come from me). That being said, once a deal is cut, don’t try to take food off of Miss A’s plate that you haven’t negotiated for…(that definitely comes from me). Whatever the case, it’s a blast! Sure it’s cut-throat, but it’s all in good fun. And like I said, no one leaves unhappy – it’s food after all and who doesn’t love food!
And speaking of food and love – the photos from this post were snapped in Ljubljana, Slovenia. It’s a gem of a city! We stopped in on a recommendation from friends on our way to Italy, and what a treat. Not only did we negotiate for great food, sip some pretty fantastic wine and have some fun shopping; we also had the opportunity to wander the streets of this delightful city. It’s similar to the cities we discovered in Czech, but less touristy and not even that crowded. It was quaint. It was beautiful and it was an easy city to stroll about. I only wish we had more time. It’s definitely a place we hope to come back and explore in more depth.
And it wraps up our sabbatcial journey. Thank you for coming along with us. We’re now off to Italy, where we’ll spend the last of our sabbatical days, hoping to draw out the pause a bit longer. It’s been quite the ride…10 countries, 31 cities (to-date) and countless memories. Thanks for coming along. Cheers!