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Professor Gates, Pretty Woman and a mattress

July 22, 2009

hoboHarvard Professor Henry Gates’ arrest by the Cambridge Police Department reminds Rocky of the best technique for buying a new mattress.

In an interview with Bloomberg News regarding the Gates situation, Duke University Professor Kerry Haynie, who is black, said he consciously changes out of old clothes before shopping to minimize suspicion that he may be shoplifting.

When Rocky shops on Rodeo Drive (remember Miss Vivian in Pretty Woman), he doesn’t care whether store detectives falsely accuse him of shoplifting. (“Officer, that’s not a laptop under my sweater, I just need to lose a few pounds.”)

In fact, when shopping at a store where prices are negotiable (such as auto dealers and matress retailers), he consciously puts on OLD clothes to look less wealthy. He’s discovered firsthand that wearing a Casio watch, jeans and worn-out sneakers often results in a better price than when he dons a Rolex watch and Gucci loafers. He understands that the salesman may treat him with less respect, but Rocky is more interested in paying less than getting respect.

People (and the police) certainly respond to verbal and non-verbal cues. A challenge for the intelligent consumer is to use these sterotypes to one’s advantage. (By the way, Rocky loves his new car, which he bought well below dealer invoice.)

  1. July 22, 2009 at 10:14 am

    remember that old sketch from SNL where Eddie Murphy dressed as a white guy and found out everything was free? hilarious

  2. ld
    July 22, 2009 at 11:34 am

    ld wears OLD clothes most of the time. It’s much more comfortable and saves a lot of money. A couple years ago, I was doing some yard work in the front yard wearing my OLD green shirt. A driveway salesman pulled into the driveway and said “Hey buddy are the owners home?” In my broken English, I told him no they were outside. 🙂

  3. Rocky Humbert
    July 22, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    LD: Back in college, Rocky discovered it was more economic to donate his dirty laundry to a thrift shop — and then re-purchase the clothes (washed and folded,) than to feed quarters into the college dorm washer/dryer each week. Rocky is shameless when it comes to arbitrage. He also got a tax deduction.

    As to LD’s comment about his “green” shirt, would the outcome have been different, if LD were wearing a black or white-colored shirt?

    Davis: The old SNL was both hysterical and clairvoyant. Rocky saw an advertisement for Medicare recently, which led him to believe that everything IS free.

  4. ld
    July 22, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    The outcome would probably be different. On another occasion I showed up at a Marriott on a Sunday night in casual dress and received completely different treatment from the same person at the counter compared with the week before when I arrived on Monday morning in formal attire.

  5. masteroftheuniverse
    July 22, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    I don’t have to worry….just ask my friend, I’m always downscale, and find the shop keepers take pity on me.


  6. September 12, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    I’m so glad I found this site…Keep up the good work I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog. Thanks,

    A definite great read…

    – Bill Bartmann

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