Shopping for a new or used automobile is not my idea of the way to spend one’s leisure time; but at sometime during our lives it becomes necessary.
When we tire of cleaning drips of oil from the driveway, and have been required to walk the last two miles to our home; due to wheezing, coughing, knocks from the engine; had resulted in total refusal of the vehicle to respond to our coaxing,
Being realistic; we sensed that the spirit of this once fine product from Detroit, was on the threshold of passing on to that great junk yard in the sky.
Gathering all of our courage; the next day, we entered the sovereign realm of the sanctified ‘Automobile Dealership. Here is a place where we cease being a person and become so many dollar signs in the eyes of the fifty or so salesmen milling about. Each one had a coffee cup in one hand and a contract in the other.
They were poised as if waiting for the starting gun in a fifty yard dash. One glance from a potential customer and they would converge on him with a vengeance that would make the author of the ‘Sales Manual’ proud.
I had seen an advertisement on Television, stating that one particular Dealership would greet a prospective customer; and then, allow them free rein to browse throughout the showroom and used car lot, unhindered, until they needed help or had decided on a particular vehicle.
That was definitely not the case with the Dealership that we had chosen to visit and possibly purchase another vehicle.
“This is your lucky day,” the salesman who was following in my footsteps said. “We have just gotten a shipment of new ones and our lot is overflowing with trade-ins.” “Just come on in the office and sign the contract and we’ll have you driving out in the fabulous Thunderbuggy 600 X-E.”
We inquire, “Do you have something that’s not too expensive, and is just, basic transportation?” With a loud laugh, he says, “Hey Al, this guy wants inexpensive, basic transportation.”
Turning back to me, he grins, displaying more teeth than Jimmy Carter, and says, “Look fellow, nobody in this age would be caught dead in ‘basic transportation’ and besides, I doubt seriously if we have had one in the last four years. Let’s check the back lot.”
Grabbing my arm, he led me outside and to the fenced area behind the office, where sat a 1971 Pinto in all its rusted glory. “Now this is your inexpensive, basic car. A lady traded it in on a new 720 X-L just the other day. She hardly used it except to drive to church on Sunday. She kept it in a heated garage.”
I suppose that would explain the sun-faded upholstery and the dry-rotted tires, but what about the puddle of oil underneath. I suppose the cracked windshield and the rear glass happened from passengers trying to escape.
Subsequent visits to other dealerships produced much the same response, and disgustedly we returned home and called a mechanic and instructed him to tow the old car to his shop and to make a valiant effort to restore life into what once was a reliable friend.
The feeling of satisfaction that we had beaten the dealership at its own game was soon dispelled with a call from the mechanic. “The crankshafts gone, the block is cracked, the pistons and rings are worn out, and it needs a new carburetor as well as a set of wires.” Weakly we mutter, “How much?”
“I think I can bring her in for around $3000. That is, if the transmissions not all messed up,” he said; shaking his head, and with a look on his face, that indicated even “He” had some waterfront property for sale; in the middle of the ‘Sahara Desert.’
Thinking of the disturbing ordeal at the hands of all those salesmen at that Dealership, we relented and authorized the work to be done. Hopefully, when it is repaired, we will still have ‘basic transportation,’ that we can feel comfortable with for a few more years.
Why are ‘wise man’ and ‘wise guy’ complete opposites? Dj.