“You aren’t a good negotiator, are you?”
“I guess, not.”
“Why the ‘guess’?”
“Your question is not open-ended, you don’t want to know what kind of negotiator I am, you seek that I agree with your impression that I am not a good negotiator or defend the accusation.”
“It’s not an objective question. You are free to agree or deny, and elaborate. This is a conversation.”
“I do not want to. I am not here to impress you. And this is not a conversation at all. A conversation doesn’t necessarily have a well-defined outcome. A negotiation does. And it is either-or.”
He smiled, said nothing.
He raised his glass, half-heartedly, I thought. He didn’t seem to like that the rules of the game belonged to me. But he attempted a play.
“What kind of conversationalist, are you?”
“A good one.”
“That hardly explains it.”
“I am not the one who is to decide how good or bad a conversationalist I am. It’s for those to decide, who have a conversation with me. You, for example, you should tell me if I am good at it or not.”
His years of training became a hurdle, then and there. Most people do not want to know the nature of another. They want to explore how best they can bracket another. He is like this. She is against that. He doesn’t care. She makes a big deal of it. And such. We try to make things easy for us. We rarely exit our world to understand what’s out there, but we crowd our own, and try fit everyone, somewhere, in the limited understanding of ours.
“Let me ask this another way, what kind of negotiator are you?”
“The worst kind.”
“What does that mean?”
“I don’t negotiate.”
“That’s often a loss.”
“Yes. Yet, each time I don’t compromise on my values, the value of my values increases ten-fold.”
“You’ll walk away?”
“Yes, why waste everybody’s time in trying to get to a place where neither is happy?”
“You are then, if you don’t mind the term, an extremist.”
“I don’t mind the term. Words are a cheap currency that we spend with gay abandon. The small differences between close cousins allow us to call a criminal an accused and an accused a criminal. And that is only because we are pressed for time. We don’t want to wait for the long and proper procedures of the court. We are keyword thinkers, we hardly pay attention to sentences and paragraphs. Forget context and intent.”
“That still doesn’t explain what kind of negotiator you are.”
I thanked him for the drink, got up and took my coat. As I buttoned up, collared up, and slashed my hands in the overcoat pocket, to ready myself to walk away towards what I called home, I thought of only one thing to say to him.