The night before car shopping I asked Rob, a friend of mine and car aficionado which hybrids he would recommend. Ideally I had wanted an electric car because I loathe spending so much money on gas and frankly, I was still bitter at having to rent that behemoth SUV for a week and change. Also, the advertising for those electric cars is pretty incredible and effective because I seemed to know the names for all the prominent models on the market already which is odd since, as I've stated before, it is impossible for me to care any less about cars. However, there is a dearth of charging stations where I live and in fact I drive about 40 miles a day to and from my multiple jobs so a car that needs a charge every 86 miles, which is average right now, wasn't going to work out. Electric car technology will no doubt improve in the next five years or so. In 2018, my friends.
Anyway, Rob came up with a list of suggestions and even suggested some non-hybrid models and one in particular that I had never heard of before: the Fiat. When he pulled it up on the computer though, I thought it was the cutest car I had ever seen. It also seemed affordable, so I added it to my list to investigate the next day.
My stepdad and mom came with me for support because I am twelve and the first car lot we hit was Ford. I'm not going to put the particular Ford dealership on blast here in this blog that no one from the automotive industry even reads but I will yelp the crap out of them. Keep in mind that this was the first dealership we visited in the day. That isn't a vital fact but it may have contributed to the sense of confusion that dripped from the entire interaction.
We walked on to the lot and immediately were approached by some guy who seemed to have just been standing there looking up at the sky aimlessly. He had a very shaky voice, like Jack Nicholson...'s impersonator in a dinner theater production of "Easy Rider". I don't remember his name at all but let's just call him Rex. I immediately asked for the exact model that I wanted to see and test drive. In fact the words "This is the exact model I want to see and test drive" may have escaped my lips. He immediately seemed reluctant, saying things like "Well, you know, um, in two weeks, we are getting the 2014's in and I don't know if I, uh, have any uh, of those but hold on let me see."
Turns out they had exactly one of them on the lot in front of the dealership, parked in the center of all their other cars, kind of on display. In other words, it was incredibly hard to miss it. It was also incidentally located in such a spot that one had to step down a significant height and through a hedge in order to get to it. (Note to Ford: Don't hide your cars behind hedges.) I happened to be wearing a dress on that hot ass day, making hiking through a row of hedges improbable and time consuming. Rex had no compunctions about making me do this until I said "Yeah, I'm not climbing through that. Where is the path?" Strike one, Rex. Strike one.
Next he opens the car door for me and tells me to start it. Dead. The battery, a major component of a hybrid car, is dead. Rex said, without the slightest hint of enthusiasm whatsoever "I suppose I should go get something to jumpstart this because you probably want to see how it works. Right?" Uh, I guess so, Rex. He then proceeded to walk away but first made sure to point to a used condom that was on the lot right in front of the car. "Someone had a good time at Ford last night."--Rex the Shaky
So he comes out about five minutes later with the oldest living man. This man was hunched over and carrying the little box that would charge the battery long enough for me to "see how it works". I sat inside the car and waited. And waited. Finally Rex says "start it!" I do, the lights go on inside the car for about 45 seconds. Rex says something along the lines of "we should go inside and get the paperwork started." Movin too fast, Rex. Too fast.
What happened next was all in a blur because honestly, thinking about it now, I cannot remember how I ended up sitting inside the dead car one moment, eyeing the used condom not two feet away with squinted eyes and complete annoyance at the non stop time waste I was being subjected to and then sitting at Rex's desk waiting for him to estimate my payments for a Ford Focus. Sincerely, I don't recall how one thing led to another. It makes me feel sympathy for people who say things like that all the time ..."one thing led to another." But there I was, waiting for Rex to type using only one index finger in order to come up with an estimate for a car I neither asked for nor liked. I suppose that the shaky Rex had some strangely brewed mojo all along and, with little to no effort, was able to place me in his cross hairs. To his credit, he quoted me a very low monthly payment price and when I said "Ok, I'll think about it" he must have known I wouldn't because he leapt from his chair sayng "I'll be right back with my boss!" Apparently, this is what car salesmen do: they talk up the car, they work up some numbers, they chat you up. Then, right when you are about to leave, they go get their supervisor to come over and sweeten the pot for you. This should only happen after an extended chat with your salesman and not, for example, in a haze of what the hell is going on surrounding the price of car you neither want nor like. When he stepped away I started speaking to my mother in Spanish about how deeply I did not want that car or to be there at all. I don't know why we stayed, he was gone awhile.
When he finally returned he seemed like he was in a hurry to beat his boss to the desk. When he approached he said, in a hurried whisper, "Tell him you took it for a test drive." Again, what the fuck, Rex? The confounding nature of this command is equaled only by the fact that I DID IT. I lied for him. I told the boss, when he asked "How was the ride?" that it was fine and it drove well. It was like I was on auto pilot. And I suppose I figured that, since I would not in any way be purchasing this or any car from Rex, that I may as well not get him in trouble for being a terrible person. Anyway, the boss was a better salesman in 25 seconds than Rex was in an hour since he picked up on every cue that I had no desire to be there and henceforth, he released me from the bonds of that confusing dealership. On our way out, we passed Rex, well, the back of him anyway. Yes, ladies and gents, Rex stood at the exit with his back to us. My mother said "Oh thanks for your help." and Rex simply nodded. Thus ended the most bizarre interaction with a salesperson I've ever had. (Or so I thought.)
The next stop was Fiat. Here is what happened there: the salesman was nice. He was straightforward. He asked what I wanted to see and spend and showed me and quoted me a price that worked. I test drove the car, fell in love and signed a bunch of documents and three days later, I got my new Fiat. She is called Sweet Pea Marie. Here is a photo of she and I on the day I bought her:
|Isn't she cute?
Although I laugh to myself about my adventures at Ford, what with all the shaking and lying, I prefer my Fiat story. Mostly because it ends with me driving off into the sunset feeling like this:
|This is how buying something should make you feel.
All that car shopping happened on Saturday. On Monday morning at around 9am, I got a phone call from Rex. We had the following conversation:
Rex: So my boss let me go after you left. He found out you didn't test drive the car.
Me: Oh, I'm sorry to hear that.
Rex: Yeah, he told me to not bother coming in. But I came in anyway to call you and find out if you still want the car.
Me (in my head): ??????????????????????????????????
Me (out loud): I didn't want the car.
Rex: Ok, take care.
Tell me truly, is this a sales tactic or did I cross paths with the worst salesman on earth?
You can offer some theories, I have a few of my own. But mayhaps this is one of those mysteries that will never be solved, right alongside why there was a used condom in a car dealership lot.