Buying and selling are fundamental to human life. They came to us early when someone had too many pieces of one kind of thing and not enough of another – and a neighbor with the same problem in reverse. So they traded and all was well.
Then things became more complicated. As people prospered they settled down and upgraded their dwellings. Perhaps moments like these were when the buyer-seller relationship became tense. Imagine a village in a remote place in a time long ago. Bog wants to marry and raise a family, but first, he needs to build a proper house of stone walls and thatched roof. He knows nothing about stones and building houses. But Bog’s a crafty hunter. Ort, however, does know how to build things. Ort hears that Bog needs a house and approaches him with an offer to build it for him in return for wooly mammoth hides. And they talked and thought about it.
Bog and Ort both had concerns and questions about the house but were coming at the issues from different directions. Perhaps their thoughts and were similar to the following:
1. Bog the Buyer’s Perspective
Can I trust Ort? I heard he built a house for Dak and the roof fell in after two weeks. I don’t know him. His people came from over the hill and he talks kinda funny. He seems capable enough and his plan sounds good, though I’d like the door facing South and a bigger smoke hole in the roof. He says those are difficult to do and would cost me extra. Speaking of which, wooly mammoth hunting is a little soft these days with all the wolves migrating in. Jeez, I hate those guys. Ort wants a hundred hides. That’s a lot of mammoth humping and skinning. Should I go with a lowest price technically acceptable proposal and bring in Garg as a stalker competitor? I’d never pick Garg in a million moons as he can’t put two sticks together, but maybe I can pressure Ort on his price and not have to hunt so much. And he wants half the hides as a down payment before winter, even though I bet by then he’ll be on vacation with his family at the beach and won’t start the stonewalls until spring. But I’d really like this house to be built quickly so I can ask Arla if she’ll move in with me. I’m not getting any younger and I’ve noticed that life for hunters is a lot shorter than other professions. I wish Ort could understand what I’m going through. Can I trust Ort?
2. Ort the Seller’s Perspective
Can I trust Bog? He’s big and waves that spear around all the time. Bog’s people talk a lot and seem to change their minds all the time. I gave him a great house plan, but all he said was that he wanted the door moved and the roof opened up. A southern door would face the wind and a bigger smoke hole in the roof would make it unstable, just like what Dak demanded and his roof fell in. To do the door and roof the right way I’d have to add a wind deflector and more cross beams at additional cost. My offer of a hundred hides for building the house was fair and it would cover all the little changes I know Bog will make as I build it. I bet he’ll spend more time supervising me than hunting. And I wouldn’t put it past him if he tries to get an idiot like Garg involved in a false competition so he can drive down the price. If he does that I’ll give him that lower price, but will have to use fewer stones and thinner thatch and he won’t be happy. I asked for half payment upfront because in my last job I nearly finished a house for Tok, a hunter like Bog. Then Tok did a strategic review of his operations and decided to relocate over to the next valley and didn’t pay me. That hurt. If Bog would quit overthinking this and make a decision, I could have his walls and roof up by winter. Don’t think that’s going to happen, so I’m making plans to go south and spend time with my wife’s tribe on the coast. Life is short. I wish Bog could understand what I’m going through. Can I trust Bog?
Has anything changed since Bog and Ort?