How to buy an Elephant and overcome Social Anxiety


Estimated Time: 5 min

It is not often that one is in the market to buy an elephant, but so I was during Easter two years ago. Or rather it’s more accurate to say that I was in the market of trying to buy one. At the time, I was working on my social skills, I’d recently taken up daygame and I still found it much too complicated to pull off stopping an attractive girl on the streets, and having her reciprocate in sharing any interest to myself. Put bluntly, I lacked the balls to stand my ground and withstand the social pressure.

I reasoned, that a social experiment attempting to buy an elephant, is about as far out there as you could possibly be. I would have to stand my ground, and be able to do it with deadpan seriousness, and thus it would teach me a valuable lesson in social skills. Yet I must stress that the idea didn’t come about in a vacuum. I do not make a habit out of trying to buy exotic zoo animals, and thus I got the idea from an interesting story of the past…

Legend has it that in Harrods, a massive store in the heart of London that caters to the excessively wealthy, has it all. If you have the cash, whatever you want, they will find it for you. Just walking around in the store ought to be proof enough of this. On the same floor, you can find a diamond encrusted Iphone case, alongside hovercrafts and authentic signed letters by the likes of Napoleon, or posters signed by the cast of Star Wars. Anything your heart desires, it shall be brought to you, alongside a bill with a long trail of zeros. If you’re ever in London, do make your way there, just to gawk at it, as it’s a sight to behold.

In either case, the story goes that the former USA President Ronald Reagan had heard these boasts by Harrods. As a joke, and to prove them wrong, he once went there and asked to buy an elephant. Without skipping a beat, the Harrods representative responded by asking whether he wanted an African, or Indian one. I do not know which one he ended up choosing, but he did buy a baby elephant and he called him “Gertie”.


It’s with these thoughts that I went inside the large building, which looks like a palace of some European monarch, and searched for an employee. Yet it was also then that I learned that, whilst supposedly no longer an official policy, Harrods female employees tend to be absolutely stunning. Back in the day, they used to be hand picked from runway models and the like – I saw little evidence on that day to imply that this is no longer the case. It thus turned out to be a trial by fire, I not only had to remain blasé about the whole elephant business, but I also had to keep a poker face throughout, or I’d tip my hand and let it be known that I was only doing this to try to improve my social skills and learn how to flirt with girls, by learning social nuance.

As such, as calmly as I could, I walked up to this girl. She had long, brown hair, and was as cute as a button, as she possessed a very feminine demeanour. I smiled and I unassumingly said “Hey, I need your help, as I need to buy something, but I don’t know where to begin finding it.”

“But of course sir, what do you need help in finding today?” she asked politely.

“This will sound like an odd request, but I’d like to buy an elephant” I said with a certain gravitas.

Her brain seemed to short circuit for a moment, as her eyes just widened and she repeated the last two words: “An elephant…?” All in all, the awkwardness of the situation initially got to me and I explained soon thereafter that I was joking, then I explained the Ronald Reagan story, and said I wanted to try it out for myself. She laughed, and we talked for a few more minutes. Turns out that they actually take that sort of crazy request quite seriously, a couple of weeks before a prince of some sort had come in wanting to buy a helicopter; not only that, but he wanted it gift wrapped and after it was unwrapped by his mistress, he wanted to fly with it to Paris with her. All in all I had to question the wisdom of gift wrapping a helicopter, as it would undoubtedly still look like a helicopter, but that’s neither here nor there.

“Honey, you’ll never guess what I got you!”

Seeing as there was somewhat of an insane precedent before me, I decided to try it out a couple of times more, as I grew increasingly immune to the whole affair and accordingly ratcheted up the craziness of it. After a while, I was able to fully withstand the social pressure, and I tried to push it so far as I could without having to call it off. As such, soon enough, I found my way to the pet shop in Harrods that was about to be permanently closed in a couple of months, as it wasn’t as profitable as it used to be.

I approached one of the employees in charge and calmly, but confidently, said that I was the secretary of a lord of some eminence, who wished to remain anonymous. Nevertheless, ever since his trip to India in his fifties, he’d grown fascinated by pachyderms. Sadly, illness had prevented him from returning to the jungles of the Maharajah, as the heat would likely kill him now. Yet, he could not help but feel some nostalgia for his former adventures, and thus for his eightieth birthday he wished to buy an elephant to roam in his estate. The infrastructure was already in place, and he only needed to find someone who could legally sell him one in Great Britain. Money was of no consequence, he just had to have one.

Surprisingly, rather than burst out into laughter at my tall tales, the shop assistant took it at face value. She called another one of the employees in the area, and they conferred in a corner. I pretended to be busy, as I checked my phone and tapped my foot, but I just had to smile at how much anxiety my request seemed to be causing. Finally, the girl I’d originally talked to, walks back to me and said that this was way above her pay grade and didn’t know where to begin.

As such, she said that this is likely to be something that would take a long while to make happen, but in the meantime she would have to talk to her superiors to arrange the logistics and such. Whilst saying this, she picked up the phone and started dialling the extension to call the managers. It’s at this point that it dawned on me that I might’ve overplayed my hand. I might start entering a somewhat precarious position, as they might start asking to see identifications, or make me sign something. I might reach a circumstance from which I wouldn’t be able to walk away easily. I thus decided to eject.

“A while!?!” I said in feigned indignation. “The party is in a week! I’ll have to speak with him to see whether we ought to continue our business with Harrods. Please forgive me, for I must leave. ” I didn’t wait to hear a reply, and I hightailed out of there as quickly as I could.

At the end of that day, I learned two things. One, is that buying an elephant seems to be astonishingly easy. Secondly, if you come in with the right attitude you can make anyone believe what you say is the truth.

Words have power, and by learning to use them properly, the sky’s the limit!


One thought on “How to buy an Elephant and overcome Social Anxiety

  1. Pingback: People you meet on the Road V: The Pelican King – Tantalus Reborn

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