The Art of the New Deal

This week I received requests from two college student to write resumes in preparation for a career fair. The request arrived on Tuesday evening, via text message, with delivery requested for Thursday afternoon, October 3. The career fair would take place Friday, October 4, at the current location for demoralizing professional football contests in Denver, also known as Empower Field at Mile High, previously known as Broncos Stadium at Mile High, Invesco Field at Mile High, and Sports Authority Field at Mile High, and colloquially known as Mile High, New Mile High or Mile High Stadium.

I said yes, quoted them a reasonable price, and then explained that given the urgency of their delivery request, each would be charged an additional $1,500 for “premium processing.” I could see their shock on the other end of the text, so I called and broke down the components of the price.

“Once I receive your intake materials and schedule our first call, I will send you a first draft resume in 5 to 7 working days. I will send the draft to you for editing and comments, and we will repeat that process twice. Your personal, professionally prepared resume will be delivery via electronic mail within 10 days. I do ask for payment in advance. Because of your compressed timeline, I’ll need to set aside the needs of my other clients to complete your resumes by the requested deadline. In fact, I need to begin working now.”

“We are not paying that,” said the caller, who is also my son.

“That’s the price,” I said, swallowing hard. He is a ruthless negotiator who convinced me to adopt a dog prior to his departure for college-school. However, I am his mother.

“That price is not acceptable to me or my client,” he said, while the other client, his friend and roommate, sat bewildered in the Situation Room/Living Room With an 86-inch TV. “What’s happening?” he whispered. “I thought you knew someone?”

“Do you have a counteroffer?” I asked. I don’t negotiate on price, but I didn’t want to lose out to some back-alley resume writer with no credentials or skills beyond hustling resumes. In an alley.

“Yes,” he said. “We will pay zero dollars.”

“ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND???” I heard Client II erupt. “She’s the best writer in Northern Colorado. She’s the ONLY writer in Northern Colorado. I don’t even HAVE a resume. I have a box of NOTES, man. NOTES. On NAPKINS. Give her what she wants. I can’t walk into Empower Field at Mile High, previously known as Broncos Stadium at Mile High, Invesco Field at Mile High, and Sports Authority Field at Mile High, and colloquially known as Mile High, New Mile High or Mile High Stadium, in my best suit with a pile of napkins from Buffalo Wild Wings.” His nostrils flared as his eyes darted about the room. A runner. I couldn’t lose him.

“What if,” I began, “What if I waived both the premium processing fees and the writing fees, you each pay me $1 for supplies, and I deliver two professional resumes by Thursday evening?”

“Let me discuss with my client.” I listened along as Christopher Cross sang “Ride Like the Wind” (featuring the great Michael McDonald) for 5 minutes or so. The Negotiator returned to the line just as I warbled the high note in the chorus.

“Oh! Yes, how did that go?” I said.

“My client accepts. I’m not sold. Nana is on the other line with a pretty enticing counteroffer.”

“What is it? What is she giving you? I will match her offer.” I wasn’t losing a sale to my MOTHER.

“Free resume, homemade dinner when I’m in town, plus $20. Cash.”

“I’ll match and give you $50.”

“Done.”

“Done.”

“Done.”

“I love you.”

“I love you, too, Mom. I really appreciate this,” he said. I heard hyperventilating and muttering in the background. “You should check on your friend,” I said. “Yeah,” he sighed. “I’ll pdf the napkins for him and get them over to you.”

And that is how you negotiate The New Deal. Pretty damn good.

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