Yard sales are interesting places to observe human nature.

The best moment is when you have to look the homeowner in the eyes and negotiate the price of that Password game. It says 25 cents, but you know that’s just the starting point.

But you don’t want to come right out and insult the guy by suggesting his Password game isn’t worth 25 cents, so you say something like, “Oh, neat, Password. Gee, too bad, I don’t have 25 cents in my pockets.”

So, then you wait for him to make a counter offer. But he knows this is just a ploy, so then he says, “It has all the pieces. We only played it a few times.”

Ooh, this is tricky. You can volley this in one of two ways: you can buy it for 25 cents and give up on besting him, yet with your ego still intact because he built the value up in your eyes. The Password game is complete and you had made darned sure it was a good deal.

Or, you can walk away because he is calling you a liar. You had just told him you don’t have 25 cents in your pockets so how could you possibly purchase the Password game?

[Editor’s Note: The masculine pronouns – he, his, him – are being used in this missive for obvious reasons.]

But walking away is a defeat because you walk away without the Password game, and buying it for 25 cents is a defeat because you know that he knows that you are a liar and, after all, you paid the asking price.

So, you offer up a tactical withdrawal by coyly acknowledging that the no-money routine was just a cute gambit. With the air cleared, you try a different tactic. You say, “I’ll take the fuzzy dice AND the Password game for one dollar.”

Aha! he thinks about it … he falters. You have him just where you want him. He is now thinking, “Whoa, a dollar. I was hoping for 25 cents just a minute ago and now I have a chance to make a whole dollar.”

He’s squirming and you are loving it. But, but, it could be so much better! You need to destroy him and only because you can.

So, you reach into your pocket and you pull out a loonie and you place it in his hand like your grandfather used to hand you a shiny dime to go to the store. It is just like that James Bond movie where the bad guy strangles the security guard – a security guard who didn’t stand a chance against a guy who was taught 20 ways to kill a man before he was four years old – and he says to him, “Shhhh.”

Yeah, just like that … but wait … it is too much. He is now looking for a face-saving move. You forgot the lessons of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. So you brace for it while reprimanding yourself for being too cocky … for taking your eyes off the prize.

“Sure,” he says to you in the most condescending manner he can muster. “I can see it is very important to you.”

Ouch! This is junk to him. He’s selling it at a yard sale. He doesn’t want it … but you do.

OK, OK, you settle down and you let him have this one. After all, you are walking away from the table with a Password game AND fuzzy dice. If you had bought them separately, it would have cost you $1.25.

Then he says to you as you leave, “See you at the Cabinet meeting Monday.”