Negotiating For Bicycles

My hostel in Tel Aviv offered a pretty sweet service - for 60 shekels (about $20) a day, they’d rent you a bicycle.

I love biking around Seattle, especially when I was living downtown. My favorite reason to bike is the speed and flexibility it gives you. That means I get to spend more time doing things - sleeping, eating, being with friends - and less time commuting - walking or waiting for the bus.

Most of the things I did in Tel Aviv were very casual, and it didn’t matter when I got there. In those cases, I enjoyed walking. I got to see a lot of the city, take detours, explore some shops, taste new food. But there were two nights when I went out dancing. Those dances started at a specific time, and ended at a specific time. Both nights, I decide to go at the last minute and didn’t really want to be late and miss out.

The first night, the dance started at 10pm. I asked one of the employees if I could rent a bicycle at around 9:30pm. She said sure, and asked how long I wanted it. “Just a few hours. Maybe until 1am or so.” She said it was 600 shekels if the bike was lost or stolen, and as far as the rate - she’d give me a partial rate of 20 shekels (about $6), because I was only using it a few hours. Sounded good to me!

The next night, I was in a similar situation. It was about 10:45, the dance started at 11. This time, I asked the hostel owner if I could borrow a bike.

“60 shekels.”

“I only need it for a few hours. How about 20 shekels?“The day rate is 60 shekels.”

“But it’s 10:45 at night, and I only need it until 1am.”

“We don’t do partial rates.”

“Look, it’s 10:45 at night. it’s not like anyone else is going to rent this bike. I want to give you money for it, which is money you won’t get otherwise. 20 shekels?“I can’t give it to you for any less. What if it gets lost or stolen?”

“Then I’ll pay the 600 shekels to replace it - and paying you 20 shekels or 60 shekels won’t change whether the bike gets stolen or not.”

“Fine. Take the bike for free.I did a double take. Wait, what?

I liked the hostel and I wanted to pay him money. I tried to make him a counter offer, which he countered with… a cheaper offer?

I’m still not exactly sure what happened. The next morning the employee who rented me the first bike saw me, we looked at each other, and both burst out laughing. She said she’d never seen that before, and had no idea what he was thinking.

But hey, free bike.

A bunch of people asked if I found my passport after my last post. I guess I didn’t make it clear enough - nope. Definitely not. That sucker is gone forever. I got a new passport today, and am flying to SF right now to hopefully get my visa tomorrow morning. Expect a few posts about this adventure in the future…

I saw this picture in Tel Aviv. I wish I could explain it. But… I can’t.

Written on January 5, 2013