This American Life: #551: Good Guys 2015
March 25, 2015 8:44 AM - Subscribe

Yes fellas, lots of you think of yourselves as good guys. But what does it really take to be a good guy? We have stories of valiant men attempting to do good in challenging and not-so-challenging circumstances: in department stores, public buses, and at the bottom of a cave 900 feet underground.
posted by ellieBOA (9 comments total)
I'm pretty sure this whole show was a repeat except for the last segment (thought I might have missed that segment in the first airing).

Kind of annoying, since I generally avoid listening to repeats, but this episode had a >500 episode number so I figured it was new.
posted by sparklemotion at 10:34 AM on March 25, 2015

Ugh the Good Guy discount is such a jerk thing to do.

You go into an establishment where the workers are making not much more than minimum wage. You bring some ridiculous expensive item to the counter, something that worker could never afford, then complain about the price. The situation is already sour.

Then you ask the worker to choose which job commandment will they violate. Pissing off a customer can be a fireable offense, and from experience in retail I've learned that telling someone 'no' on a discount request is enough to piss someone off. (In one location, we actually had a rule that you could never tell a customer 'no', you had to find a way to say 'yes, but...') But then you also have the ultimate commandment to make the business money. Stealing is certainly a fireable offense, and many businesses would call giving discounts to all of your relatives and friends stealing. So the worker is damned if they do or damned if they don't. Either they violate 'the customer is always right', or they do something else against the rules.

And the worker has to make this decision knowing that this jerk could afford an $150 baby blanket but doesn't want to pay $190 for it.
posted by tofu_crouton at 11:09 AM on March 25, 2015 [4 favorites]

Kinda weird that they go the whole segment without remarking on "good guy" being gendered.

(Also, here's the original from last year. It looks like they just swapped out the last segment, which was previously a Sarah Koenig-produced piece using audio sent in from a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan.)
posted by nobody at 12:32 PM on March 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

(Oh, by "go the whole segment" I meant just the first one about the "good guy discount." I haven't listened to the others yet. Maybe it'll come up later.)
posted by nobody at 12:49 PM on March 25, 2015

tofu_crouton, I'm with you. It's a horrible thing to do and I cringed the whole time that part was running. I would have wanted to say "how do I know you're a good guy, eh?" Except well, you can't.

If you have to serve the public, any time you have to say no, I think you're risking your life or at least your job.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:46 PM on March 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Kinda weird that they go the whole segment without remarking on "good guy" being gendered.

When I was in retail, only men would ask me for random discounts unless it was a woman from a culture where bartering is common. It might be because I'm a small woman, and male customers often tried to 'honey' me to get their way. Or it might be because men have more privilege to leverage in the first place? Hmm.

The phrase 'good woman' is... not even a phrase. Who says that? I can't even figure the connotation. The only use of it I can think of is the book Landscape for a Good Woman. Googling it, I see a movie and Cat Power song named Good Woman. I also see a bunch of bs about how to be a good woman to get a good man.
posted by tofu_crouton at 8:47 AM on March 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

> The phrase 'good woman' is... not even a phrase.

I think the equivalent of 'good guy' would be 'good girl', and you can imagine how a female customer asking a male clerk for a 'good girl discount' would be interpreted.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 4:21 PM on March 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think the way a savvy woman would ask for a discount like that would be something like, "Are there any additional discounts available," or "Are there any specials on this". The "I'm a good guy, you're a good guy" thing is even an important element here -- the phrasing might even turn off more people than it endears.

I'm not sure why the producer's friend picked up that particular phrase; I've never heard it before. However, if you're comfortable haggling, or just asking a question, then the huge retail markups might be a little flexible. It's entirely possible that a customer would spend $90 for a set of sheets or something, but absolutely wouldn't spend $130, and the store would rather make the sale than not -- but a buyer wouldn't know that without asking.

The employee doesn't necessarily lose out by entertaining the request, either. Of course it might be awkward, but if you're ashamed to be able to buy expensive things in the first place, hoping to spend less is not necessarily more shameful.
posted by amtho at 5:19 PM on March 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

I had a ton of deja vu on this, glad someone else also thought most of it was repeat.
posted by garlic at 1:38 PM on March 31, 2015

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