Imarii? When I lived in Zimbabwe, this was one of the most important Shona words that I learned. Imarii means, How much is it? Whenever I went to buy fruits and vegetables or other items in the market, I would be quoted at least eight times more if I didn’t ask in the Shona language about the price. As a murungu (white person), I would generally be viewed as a visitor and would be charged more. Sometimes when I asked in Shona I would still be quoted a ridiculous amount, but after a quick aiwa (no!) and a shake of the head, I’d usually get a fair price.
Here in Canada, I wish there was a similar way for me to pay an appropriate amount for goods and services that I’m not knowledgeable about. When I left my car at the service station this morning, I expected to pay just over $200 for an oil change, new wipers and a summer tire installation. By the time I picked up my car in the afternoon, I needed to pay nearly $1,000, which is a significantly higher amount. This kind of situation happens to me more frequently than it should.
When it comes to things such as home repairs or car servicing, I have no idea how much these goods and services should cost so I’m occasionally taken advantage of when I seek out assistance. I’m never sure whether I’m supposed to bargain or haggle in these situations, and I wouldn’t know what work would be essential or not anyway. I wish there was a guidebook that could help me navigate through my interactions with tradespersons and salespersons.