I recently pulled into a car dealership to check out the newer gas-saving compacts and immediately felt like a fish in an aquarium. Eyes blanketed me through the showroom window and a salesman, coiled near the entrance like a starving python, closed the distance between us in a nanosecond.
“Good afternoon, I’m Derek,” he stated while barely moving his lips, which I could only suppose hid a Jacobson’s Organ. “Which car can I help you select today?”
When I mentioned a compact, he gushed, “Excellent choice. I own a compact and it’s a great all-around vehicle.”
Here I’m at the dealership for literally minutes and already I don’t trust this guy. I informed him that the car would be for my son.
“Perfect,” came the reply with a nod of feigned sincerity. “I recently bought my son a compact too.”
Pandering is a big turn-off. But then it made me recall a sales job between college semesters when I sat in the office of a prospective customer. Noticing a model of a Harley on his bookshelf, I pointed at it and with shameless falsity said, “I love bikes.”
Trouble is, at the time I knew zilch about motorcycles. My prospect took the bait. He became energized, his mouth shifting from first to fourth gear with chatter and inquiries about all things motorized on two wheels. Bewildered and unable to change the subject, I resorted to dodges and parries (Q: What are you riding now? A: Well, I’m between bikes at the moment. Q: Wanna take a quick spin on my Harley? It’s parked downstairs? A: Uh, maybe another time, but thanks anyway).
Suddenly wise to my charade, he looked at me with a dour expression, the both of us recognizing that I’d just blown any semblance of credibility. He glanced at his watch and announced being late for a meeting and cut the session short. I left his office totally embarrassed, and I made a commitment right then and there to only lie to a prospect about topics with which I had at least some knowledge.
But I regress. After locating a car that interested me, Derek led me to a dingy cubicle where we commenced to spar like a mongoose and a cobra. He had quite unconvincing responses to my concerns about price and value. This time it was I looking at my watch, but before a word could escape my lips Derek exited the cubicle like a kangaroo. He returned with a swarthy guy I dubbed “Tony The Closer” because I deduced that the dealership kept him hidden from view in a cage until called upon to subdue balky buyers.
Compared to Derek’s decrepitude, Tony was a maestro. I felt like Goofy playing Jeopardy against Einstein. He wrung me like a rag through every emotion while forcefully and adroitly countering any objection until my resistance vanished. I was made to feel that if I didn’t buy that car, I’d have been the worse father in the world.
But what the hey. My son got a nice car, the dealership cranked another unit and it must have been karma that I passed two Harleys on the way home.