If you ever want to gain some quick and easy friends, just go shopping for a car. For some time I've been itching to regain my Man-Card by trading in my Mercury Cougar for a pickup. Now that we're getting ready to move to a cold and icy state, and may buy a house there, a truck seemed like a worthwhile investment.
On my way down Maumelle Boulevard I ducked into a local used car dealership just to see what they had in stock. Not much in my price range, it turned out, but I did get to meet Al- a stately middle-aged African American car salesman, and his boss, Carl. Carl seemed a bit more snake-ish than Al, and for some reason he didn't have any molars- usually the front teeth go first here in Arkansas, go figure.
I managed to escape from their seasoned salesmen spells, and continued on to Lander's Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep in Benton where, according to Autotrader.com, there was a nice 4WD Tacoma for sale. When I got there I was greeted by Russ, a portly, mustached salesman who told me that what I came to see was sold yesterday- but he was chock full of alternative options. He must have had a good feel for what I wanted, I mean, I didn't even know I wanted it. He led me right to the goldish-tan Dodge 1500 Crew Cab that I would later name D-Biscuit (in case that didn't register, it's a Dodge, it's like riding lots and lots of horses at once, it's a play on Seabiscuit, and yes- I've always named my vehicles.)
I took the truck on a test run, and then parked it up next to the office building where we went to wheel and deal. Russ stepped out of the deliberation nook to pretend he was price haggling with his manager. While he was out, I saw an interesting stack of papers on the desk in front of me- picking it up, it was a list of their inventory with exactly the amount they'd paid for each vehicle printed next to their asking price. I scanned the list for the truck I was interested in and struck gold!
Russ re-entered the room with his manager and handed me a piece of paper with their offer- they did make a generous offer for my trade, about $500 over the estimated Bluebook price, but hadn't backed off the original asking price that I had read on the inventory list. I countered. Russ's boss whined at me, "Come on man, won't you help us out a little?"
I turned to him with a smirk, "I already am, I read the sheet you guys left out here on the desk."
Both of the gentlemen flushed bright red. The boss man said in a defeated tone, "Oh!" and quickly ducked out of the room- I'd offered them a fair price and everyone new it. They didn't try to haggle any more when they learned I knew their profit margin.
Next I met Jim, the finance man. All I had to do was sign a few things since I insisted on paying for the vehicle in full. It's not as much fun driving a car that belongs to a bank. The problem was, I'd neglected to bring a check connected to the account that I wished to pay from. They trustingly handed me the keys to the truck and I ran home to get my checkbook.
Back at the house, that checkbook was in a small fireproof lock-box, and I ransacked the room looking for its key. The only place I could imagine it being was attached to the key of my Cougar, which Russ had removed from my keychain while I was talking to Jim. I put the little safe in the truck and drove all the way back to Benton. They didn't have my key.
Russ went and collected key chains from his co-workers and futilely searched for one that might work. I asked them to get Jim to prepare the paperwork for financing it- so I could drive the truck home and just pay it off with the first statement. A couple of places I hadn't looked for the key came to mind and I was finally able to get in contact with my wife via her defunct telephone. Miracle of miracles! She found my not-for-daily-use key ring and delivered it to me at the dealership.
It wasn't an ordinary car-buying experience, as it only took an hour to find what I wanted but then nearly three more to get everything else hammered out. In any case, I have a very *grunting like Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor" manly pickup, and exceeded my newfound acquaintence quota for the week with Al, Carl, Russ, and Jim!
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