Geoff Tennant - Promoting access to mathematics for all
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24/6/18: FINALLY got through that pile of fish

A couple of years before I went to Tanzania there was a knock on my door one day and standing there was a mobile fish monger.  Fish were caught, went pretty well into their freezer, came frozen to my door so could go straight to my freezer.  So not quite as good as going straight from the sea to the oven but a jolly good second best given that I live about an hour's drive from the coast.  He operated pretty well like a shop, so I could buy what I wanted in the quantities I wanted from the selection provided.

So when, a few months ago, there was again a knock on my door to find a mobile fish monger, I was jolly pleased to start to start up this relationship again.  It wasn't until I had parted with my money and the fish monger was long gone that I realised that there were all manner of differences to the arrangement I had had before and that I'd made a daft mistake.  For one thing, the fish arrived fresh not frozen, not in itself a big issue but given that I was going to freeze it, less than ideal.  But the major issue is that I had bought a huge quantity of fish fillets - 20 packets of about 1lb (450g) each.  This all to go into a small freezer, corresponding to a small space in a small kitchen in a small house.  When I defrosted a packet that was quite a lot of fish to get through in one go.  And whilst freezing is wonderful it is not, of course, good practice to keep fish frozen indefinitely.

The end result was that, while I normally really like cooking and eating fish, getting through this huge pile soon became a chore, constraining my cooking - I like cooking fish whole, for example - and gumming up my freezer.  Each time I visited my parents I took a packet with me, either to consume whilst I was there or to leave for them afterwards - thanks Mum and Dad! - and all my cooking for other people has been fish in various forms.  When I realised that I was down to the last 3 packets I decided to make a large batch of fish soup, so finally the pile has gone.

Which leaves me feeling rather daft and wondering why I allowed myself to be talked into buying so much fish when it shouldn't have taken much thinking time to work out that this really wasn't going to work very well?  Before trying to answer this, I would say that this is not the first time I've been caught like this.  Some years ago, when one of my nephews was coming up to a major birthday, I was in a shopping centre where there was a stall selling paintballing packages.  Thinking this would be a great present, I went ahead and bought oine.  Only to realise afterwards that I had bought entry for them but only a very small number of paintballs themselves.  So, either they were going to have a pretty unexciting outing, or they would need to put in a fair bit of money to make the present work, or I would need to spend rather more than I had budgeted.

Under UK law I was entitled to my money back which was the route I took - although it won't surprise you to hear that it took rather more effort to get my money back than it did to part with it in the first place.

It is, of course, the nature of a 'good' salesperson that they will be looking to persuade you to part with money to them rather than somebody else, including to buy things which you wouldn't previously have thought of buying.  A bit of effort in engaging at a personal level goes a long way and perhaps masks the interaction for what it really is, an attempt to get money out of me.

So, have I learnt anything from this?  Very specifically, yes, I won't be buying a huge quantity of fish all in one go again.  More generally, have I learnt anything?  Not entirely sure.  Am I likely to be talked again into buying things which I then regret later?  Probably.  Any advice on how to take more control here would be very gratefully received!

2 Comments to 24/6/18: FINALLY got through that pile of fish:

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Clotilda on 24 June 2018 14:12
Hi my Mathematics teacher. Impulse purchases especially for food,can be reduced by taking care that you are not hungry at all times. There is a natural tendency to buy lots of food on an empty stomach..additionally, avoid having cash.
Reply to comment
Geoff on 27 June 2018 11:48
Thank you, Clotilda, what you're saying is exactly right. Re: not having much cash around, that's really good advice except that in the western world we make a lot of use of credit cards. So the fishmonger would have believed me had I said I didn't have the cash, but not that I couldn't pay, alas.....

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