Any discount?

Last summer, I went to visit my family in Japan for the first time since the pandemic started. I spent two months and a half in my hometown at my parents’ house, working remotely and hanging out with my parents on weekends. It was a cherished time. Toward the end of my stay, while I was packing for my trip back to Ottawa, I thought to myself that it would be nice if I could have access to Japanese books even when I’m outside of Japan. I decided to purchase a Kindle Japanese Edition.

My mother drove me to the nearest major computer and gadget store, and we together headed to the e-book section.

“I have a loyalty card for this store,” my mother smiled. “You can use it for your purchase today.”

My mother is somebody who finds excitement in saving money here and there by collecting points on loyalty cards and getting discounts using coupons. So, it didn’t surprise me that she already had a loyalty card for this store. Other than the fact that I was thankful for not having to make a new one just for this single purchase, I didn’t think of my mother’s loyalty card any further.

The e-book section was very small, and it showcased only a few models of Kobo and Kindle. But most importantly, the Kindle Paperwhite I was looking for was in stock.

“Mom, this is the one! I’ll be buying this one.” I said to my mother excitedly.

My mother was looking at different models, but hearing my announcement, she came around to have a look.

“How much is it?”

“Exactly as we saw on the website. It’s no more expensive than that!”

My mother was quiet. Then she opened her mouth.

“Do you want me to ask them if there is any discount?”

“But, Mom, this one is not on discount. Look!”

I pointed to the price tag. The price was written in the ordinary black ink and there was no sparkling sign of special discount.

“Well, it always worth asking,” said my mother smoothly. “You never know!”

I was highly doubtful that there was any hidden discount. In Japan, at a retail shop, price tags are very accurate. The amount indicated on the tag is the amount we pay. No more, no less. As I hesitated, my mother asked me again.

“Shall I ask them?”

Seeing her eagerness, I agreed.

“OK. Please ask them though I’m pretty sure that there won’t be any discount!”

An arrangement was made. I called a store attendant to the e-book section, and asked him a few questions about the Kindle Paperwhite. When the Q & A came to an end, my mother popped in with her prepared question.

“So, tell me, is there any discount today?”

The way she said it was so smooth, so innocent, and so full of conviction that I almost burst into laughter. I indeed had to face the other direction to hide my giggles from the store attendant.

“Well, Madam, do you have our store loyalty card?” said the store attendant’s calm voice.

“Yes, I do!” replied my mother’s cheerful voice.

“Today, we are offering 10% discount to those who have our store cards.”

“Really?!” I turned back to face the store attendant and my mother in surprise.

“Yes,” the store attendant continued calmly. “That’s on top of our regular discount rate.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. My mother’s strategy worked like magic.

We paid for the item and left the store. As we walked back to the car, I told my mother how impressed I was by the way she enquired about the discount, and asked her to say the question again. And when she did, I burst into laughter again.

“It was funny because you sounded so smooth and casual as if we were at a vegetable shop!”

I’m not sure if my mother got the point of my laughter, but she looked content to have entertained both of us with her single question. It was the funniest discount experience I had ever had.