Greek-American Stories: Using Stratagem

(AP Photo/Petros Karadjias, File)

“What’s the news, George?” asked Dimos as George joined the group around the table at Dixon’s. “Well, it’s unbelievable news!” He began, setting his coffee down and seating himself. “Areti called my wife and told her about Yiannis’ amazing success a few days ago.” They were all ears as George continued. “Yiannis’ nephew, the optometrist, had to go to an important conference and had to leave his store and asked his uncle if he’d attend his store during that time. Yiannis gave it some thought but after a few minutes of some deep thinking said he’d do it, provided he gets to keep half the profits he’d made for that day.” John asked, “Don’t tell me his nephew agreed.” George shrugged. “He agreed, thinking, hey!  How much profit could Yiannis manage to make in those few hours till he returned.”  Before he could explain to them what happened Yiannis strolled in, got his coffee and sat down, looking very self-assured. “We heard you had a very successful time at your nephew’s store, Yiannis,” praised Kipreos, pushing the donut tray closer to Yiannis. “Tell us about it.”

Nonchalantly nibbling on his donut, sipping his coffee with hesitation, Yiannis explained, “I don’t see why you’re all surprised that I collected more money from his clients than he’d made in the five days previously. When he counted the money he was astounded!” Impatient, Dimos asked him, “How could that happen, Yiannis? I’m surprised your nephew entrusted you for that job in the first place. He had an assistant. You have no experience as an optometrist! How can you take care of customers with their glasses?” Once again, Yiannis shrugged and said, “I use stratagem! When you’re a shrewd businessman you can manage anything.” Confused, John asked him once more to explain how he made his nephew more profit in one day that couldn’t be done all the other days. Settling back in his seat, Yiannis told them, “It’s all a matter of applying psychology. You have to size up the client first. Then, you convince him that they’re the glasses he needs in order to see better. That’s called using stratagem!” Dimos tried to correct. “Don’t you mean ‘strategy’?” Yiannis shook his head. “No!”

John said, “Sizing up the client? We’re not talking about playing poker, Yiannis. What’s psychology got to do with fitting a client with glasses?” John agreed. “You fit the client up with the glasses and that’s that. That doesn’t take, er, stratagem. I don’t understand.”  Yiannis shook his head, slowly. “Well, didn’t I make my nephew a neat profit?” They all nodded. “And, didn’t I make myself a profit, too?” More nods. “But,” insisted Dimos. “You still didn’t explain how you did it, and, here I’m hoping you didn’t do anything that’ll get your nephew into any trouble.” Yiannis became irritated. “Of course not! I just made the client satisfied and my nephew satisfied too!”

“And, you satisfied, of course,” added George. Yiannis smiled, “Of course.”  Looking round the table, Yiannis decided to explain his stratagem. “As I’m fitting the client the glasses, if he asks how much they cost, I say $75. If his eyes don’t blink or flutter, I say, ‘for the frames. Then, comes the lens that cost $25.’ If he still remains calm, I add, ‘each!’.  Sitting back, Yiannis observed their faces. Then, rubbing his chin, he studied John’s glasses. “I think it’s time for new glasses, John.” Nearly gagging on his coffee, John said, “I see alright, Yiannis. I’m sure you have my welfare in mind. And, I thank you. I’m, also, sure you’d see to it that I am given a very reasonable price for them. Am I right?” Yiannis nodded, assuring him he was right. “When the time comes that I need a pair of glasses, I’ll be sure to let your nephew know.” Satisfied, Yiannis said, “When do you think that’ll be?” Looking serious, John responded, “I may visit your nephew when he isn’t attending a meeting.” Yiannis’ eyes narrowed. “That’s more like it’s called, ‘putting it off.’” Looking amused, John said, “Not at all! That’s called ‘stratagem!”’