I am a conspicuous consumer of friends and relationships.
Ghanaians are great sales people. And, we are all salespeople, but why do I say this? You sold yourself to find a husband, wife, a job, friend, and even to convince your friend to come to church. Great salespeople are not cons, in reality, they are outrageously trustworthy.
I am in Ghana, West Africa and the people are outstandingly clever, they are amazing. In many ways, this culture has some of the best sales people on the planet. The ironic part, seldom to they use this sales ability to sell products, hotels, food, and tours, this is sadly lacking.
I pride myself in sales skills; for 14 years of my life; I sold Real Estate, and become the master of the trade. In the last few years, I sold on average two properties per week, about 20 times more than the average agent. I can recognize great sales techniques when I see them. And, Ghana people are intuitive, naturals at the most important skill in sales.
Sales is not convincing people to do something, it is removing the obstacles that would allow the person to do what they want to do. This mistake is when you try to annoy people who are not interested in what you want to sell. The feeling of buying, the desire to buy is probably instinctual for humans. We must, we need to buy things, hoard them, and hold them for winter, or bad times, the need to hoard, to stockpile for the future require we learn to buy, and it is an enjoyable activity, although quite addictive.
30 years ago, I would buy everything I needed in one trip to WalMart, now, I consciously make trips to the store 1-4 times per day, it is fun to shop.
Don’t misunderstand me, 99 percent of my purchases now are food, and essentials, things that radically make my life function. I gave up on the conspicuous consumption of things. I find I get the same rush just by window shopping and thinking, I do not need to buy.
Friendship Fools Gold
Now, I am a conspicuous consumer of friends and relationships, and have almost given up the need to buy things. I used to believe, if I had a lot of things, I would have a lot of friends, that is friendship fools gold.
After being a perpetual traveler for 15 years, and living in 90 countries, I am 100 percent sure. There are some countries where meeting people are easier than others. There are cities in the USA that are cold, aloof, and there are warm and friendly cities. The world is the same, there are countries where even the most awkward and inhospitable people find friends.
Ghana is an easy place to meet people, but why? It is because they pitch the sale, they make the offer to be friends almost continuously.
“Abroni! How are you?”
Anyone that have been to Ghana, knows this sound, children gleefully scream it on ever corner. Sometime older adults forget they are big, and return to childhood and say,
“White man, how are you?”
“Abroni, how are you?”
To have a lot of friends, one needs to have a lot of opportunities, and in West Africa which for me includes Ivory Coast, Ghana, Benin and Togo there is an almost endless stream of open offers, to accept, or walk on by.
West African throws out their sales pitch, they scream in happiness,
“How are you?”
I meet, start many small friendships daily, because Ghanaians are great at the sales pitch, they are door openers, I allow the door to open. My personal challenge with friendships in West Africa is this, how to have friendship that does not revolve around me spending money on them.
I love all the opportunities to have friends. I am a conspicuous consumer, I love making friends, whether casual, or permanent, they both start the same, somehow the door opened, and we both agreed to walk into the friendship.
I will focus my thoughts today on this challenge; I want to figure out a way to find friends in Africa, which are sustainable. It also a challenge to my personal mental health with all of these new friends. Friends often want something from their friends, and when they do not get what they want, the friendship ends. I do not enjoy the daily losing of friends.
I am hard pressed to figure out what I can offer to West Africans that they want from me, besides my money. Yes, I love all the new friendships, but I do not think I have much to give West Africans in return.
What I am, the type of thinking, the overly strict, often too organized, reading too much, thinking too much, this does not keep friends here.
I know some of you are tempted to be jaded, saying and thinking, that all they want it money, but this is true in the USA. I find it amazing when an American will not even smile, they are greedy with their smiles, too busy to even give that, or afraid I want something from them.
All friendships are mutually beneficial, and I can only offer financial security to a wife, or employee. Yet, I am still a conspicuous consumer of new friendships in West Africa, and looking for ways to make these friendships more endearing, and long lasting, without putting money on the table, I need to remove the money variable. Money does buy friendships; it is easy for a big spender to find both friends and lovers. It is just taxing to keep the flow of money coming, it is like have children.
Well, that is what I am up to today, here in Ghana, trying to be a good friend without having money be the lubricant.
Andy Graham in Cape Coast, Ghana
And soon to Togo, West Africa a Francophone country that is 2-3 times friendlier than Ghana, too funny.
Wow. I never thought of friendship in that way before. I will have to read this one a few times. It definitely makes me think. I love having friends also. I meet a lot of ex military people here in Subic Bay and it is easy to chat with some of them. We have a common bond from our time in the military. Something to chat about to break the ice.
At one time I had quite a few friends but after I retired and got divorced and moved my friends base dwindled down about 50percent over night. Then I moved again and it dropped to an even lower number.
I know why. I was not in a happy place and people sense that even if you try to put on a happy face and people who are happy begin to avoid you.
I eventually came out of my funk but by then I was much older and was not all that interested in gaining new friends.
What I have done is to realize that you need to set a definition of friend that makes sense.
A lot of people say they have "umpteen" friends all over the place and what they have are people who may or may not be a true friend.
Friendship is a matter of definition, It depends on your definition of what a friend is.
My definition has now limited my number of true friends down to a very low number which is OK because I prefer to have a few, loyal, honest dependable friends than a large number which are only friends because they say so but are not there when/if you need them. Good friends will share their life with you, they will be there for you, they will accept you as you accept your children, unconditionally.
Part of the problem of getting older those who are still married push you away because you are not and the worse of all is friends die before you do.
I still know people who probably call me a friend which is OK but for me what I now have is 2/3 very good friends and a lot of acquaintances.
Enjoy the friends you have, things often change when you least expect it.