Learning morality from little people

Regarding the environment, Yogyakarta is not much different from other big cities in Java for its crowdedness, traffic jam, and pollutions. But, for its people, especially the indigenous ones, it is very different. The Yogyans (my own term) are famous for their friendliness, patience, sense of humor, and, to some extent, honesty.

I am not sure what virtue I can assign to an old man I met by the street in Yogya this week. I was ready to pay 3,500 rupiah (~35 cent USD) to the vendor of the newspaper—a Javanese woman—when her husband, mending a puncture tire, said, “three thousand.” The wife looked awkward, but she told me to pay 3,000 only.

The event looks simple—500 rupiah (~5 cent USD) difference—but to me it is “rich.” They are poor and hardworking couple. I estimated their net income is not more than 60,000 rupiah (~6$) per day. From one copy of newspaper, they profit 5 cent; per day, they maximally sell 50 copies; total profit is 2.5 $. If they profit 10 cent—3,500 rupiah each instead of 3,000—the total profit would be 5$. This increased profit is significant to the total net per day, 30% higher. The question now is why the husband did not want this extra profit? It is very refreshing and touching to find a lesser man who is not succumbed to greed.

The above experience also supported my observation that many women might not like to hear. Women tend to sell merchandise at higher price than men do. My mother and sisters sold things at higher price than my father did. Therefore, if you want to get a better price, bargain with the male owners.