Sunday, August 5, 2007

Car Salesman - God Bless them all........

We went to buy a new car this weekend. Buying cars is a task that I usually do alone! There are two things in life that Tom hates. One is going to the dentist and the other is – you guessed it – shopping for a new car. I did as much leg work on the internet as possible prior to venturing out in public with the car salesman loathing Deacon. This is a man that makes his money selling heating and air systems and has the highest margin of profit in the company. You would think he would enjoy the “dance” that car salesmen do. You know where they give you a price and you say that is too high, then they say they will go ask their manager if he can do any better. They go behind some mysterious closed door count to 100 then come back out and present you with the best deal they have seen all day. You start to leave and they play run and touch the wall again. After a couple of hours you reach a price that you think you can live with everyone is happy UNTIL – you have to go into that dark office at the end of the hall with the guy wearing a visor and has a pencil behind his ear. Somehow the good deal you thought you were getting is now costing you $2,500 more than it was 20 minutes ago. Then there is the extended warranty spill and the gap insurance talk. When you think you have heard it all you get the life insurance and maintenance song. Finally you get down to signing the papers. Tom wants all of this to take place in less than 30 minutes. I spent 3 days haggling with the salesman before I bought my Bug.
I arranged for financing before we hit the lots. I called and talked to several internet salesmen and had narrowed the search to a local dealer. Off we went. The guy I spoke with on the internet passed us off to another guy – I had asked that they have the two cars we were interested in as close to the show room as possible. Well, that did not happen – off to a bad start already! When the salesman locates the car he did not have the keys so we stand in the hot sun for 15 minutes waiting for him to locate the keys. To my knowledge he never did! We went back in the show room and Tom told the guy he did not need to drive the car just tell him the bottom line price. The guy comes back with a sheet with the sticker price one it. Blood pressure is now going up. Tom informed the guy that he was not going to pay sticker price – then the guy made what turned out to be the death nail – “do you not want me to make any money on the car”. We are out the door folks! Of course the general manager comes chasing after us and offers Tom $2,500 off the car. This just served to tick Tom off more. He told the guy he had ask for his best price and told it was the sticker price now all of a sudden he had “found” $2,500 he could take off. We left. We went to CarMax and to tell you the truth if they had been able to find what Tom wanted we would have bought it from them. They had very few Toyota’s – they guy said they sell as quickly as they get them in.
Time to take a break – Tom went to Mass and I stayed home and made a few more calls. I called a dealership not far from the house and spoke to the internet salesman – he sounded 12 on the phone. I told him what we were looking for and he said – I have the EXACT car for your husband! Son, son if you only knew that you were about to meet a man of the cloth that seems to lose his religion when he enters a car dealer. I talked to Eric for quite awhile, I explained the problem. I made an appointment for 7 pm. I do not know who the patron saint of car salesmen is but I suggested to this kid that he find out and sent up a prayer – I would be doing the same. When we arrived Eric came running out. Heavens, he was only 12, you could not help but like the kid. He had the car front and center – no waiting for keys and no standing in the heat. From the moment I saw the car I knew it was Tom. We drove it – then Tom asking the ever telling question – What is your best price. Eric was prepared – I had informed him that he would have one shoot. Eric did me proud! It took us almost 2 hours to make the deal, sign the paperwork and clean out the old car. Not the 30 minutes that Tom had hoped for but not the 4 hours that I was afraid of. The kid was funny, he kept asking me if Tom was doing OK and for the most part he was.
Could someone please explain to me how a man with infinite patients when dealing with the sick and dying, with someone that is down on their luck and needs a willing ear or the parishioner that did not quite understand the homily can become the epiphany of impatience when doing something as mundane as buying a car. I have pondered this question many times and I think the answer quite simply is – a car for Tom is not a status symbol, it is not an extension of his personality or his self worth. A car is simply the means by which he gets from one place to another. In his mind buying it should be like buying a pair of shoes – these are the one I want , they are the color I like, they fit and the price is printed right on the box!
The readings today were about Vanity – how “STUFF” takes the place of God in our life. For most of us this is so very true – if you want to talk about “stuff” I got stuff – for Tom stuff is simply “Stuff” – his eyes are on the final reward and he want need any “stuff” when he heads HOME.
Lord, help me to lay aside “stuff” and put you first and foremost in my life.

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