Sunday, October 19, 2008

Gotta Have a vehicle!

I have been considering buying a car for some time out here. There is a bus stop outside my appartment but i have never seen a bus stop there. I have seen the bus that does stop there but that was the only time (and i can't remember where i saw it). The flying school does provide us with three mpvs but that is between 30 people. Thanks to Gmail's Calendar feature, my course is the first in the school to successfully administer an effective car sharing system. Once again, if any airline HR are reading this, please take note.

However this does not allow for impulse trips to Taco Bell. So a car is needed.

Going to a secondhand car lot is a very good way to experience good old fashioned sales techiques. When i was an actor, and searching for good monologues, american salesman used to regularly appear in my choices. Mamet's film Glen Garry Glen Ross, Miller's Death of a Salesman, a sketch I stole from Raymond Carver. I suppose what attracted me was that they were generally well meaning people with dreams that were inevitably shattered and stooped low to get out of their mess. In a country that prides itself so much on enterprise and people achieving their dreams, the salesman holds an important place in American culture. They are respected here, unlike in Britain (having been a salesman myself, i can vouch for this).

So i was quite excited when i walked on to the first lot. Geoff (not the cowboy) saw me looking at some of the cars and within a minute of me setting foot on to the forecourt (as us Brits call it) he holdered over "How you doin sir?". I explained i am over from England and will be here for some months and am looking for a car. Geoff was in his thirties but his neat moustache, white polo shirt and grey chino trousers made him look older. Turns out he'd served in the army and was stationed in Germany. He showed me a few cars and eventually i said the words that had for some reason scared me.

"I want a convertible".

Geoff, looked slightly surprised. He assumed that as i was British I would want an economical car. This was probably because i had told Geoff that a gallon of fuel back home works out at $8, compared to $3.50 here, and i think he kind of still had that in his head when he was showing me the cars.

We happened to be standing by a convertible when i said this. Geoff took out a cigarette and said:

G: Do you mind if a I smoke?

Me: Go ahead

Geoff lights a cigarette in a snap movement from his zippo lighter. The convertible request seems to put him at ease. He knows where this guy is coming from now.

Me: What about this one?

A red Pontiac Firebird.

G: Thats a nice car. Pretty low mileage for its age. 5 liter engine, plenty of go, smooth ride, nice interior, and the great thing about buying from us is that we've got the lowest sales tax in the area. The boss struck a tough deal with the council, said if you wanna us to open up here, this is the tax we want. And he got it.

Geoff opens the driver's side door.

G: Hop in.

(Ok, i didn't record the conversation but that is pretty much what he said.)

Me: Its nice

G: You won't find better than this in your price range. I could get the paperwork together and you could drive it away today.

Whoah!! I explained to Geoff that i would need to get an arizona licence as that would mean my insurance would be much cheaper and that i wasn't ready yet to make a decision. He invited me inside to take down my details and said he could assist me in getting some good insurance rates. A company had quoted me $3000 to insure a mustang for 6 months. I told Geoff this, to which he replied:

"Wow... did you tell her to 'step away from the pipe'?"

It took a couple of seconds to work this out, until i realised he was referring to a crack pipe. We both laughed. Geoff took my details and i left.

I was quite relieved to leave. I started to feel that Geoff really wanted that sale. In sales there is a phrase called "KISS IT". Which means you've got to lightly touch the buyer with some kind of key selling feature. Geoff was using a bit a sledge hammer in my opinion but, but hey maybe it works for him.

On to my next parking lot...


Joel said...

I thought you'd bought a car on eBay... Did I dream that?


David said...

come now Joel, there's the real life version and there's the Arizona Bullittin version - don't confuse the two. More petrolhead stories please

Me said...

'Step away from the pipe'. Nice.