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Tales from a small town

Short stories about life in a small town. Non-fiction. Great reading.

Monday, May 01, 2006

You can't make this stuff up...

So this is how last Friday went:

I'm remembering what the sales manager told me the previous Monday. He says, "Hey, if you don't wind up making this week what you make at the factory in a week (I'm on voluntary lay-off) it's over; you've got till Saturday to make $600 in commissions."

So, nothing Monday, Tuesday (my day off) Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday, I'm thinking I've got to have a miracle.

Friday morning, the dealership receptionist pages over the loudspeaker: "Sales 111; sales 111." That's when someone calls about a car and they don't have a salesman. I run my fat ass over to my desk (literally) and dial the extension and announce my name.

It's some guy who wants a 1 or 2 year old pickup for around $15-20,000. He says he's got great credit, and he wants to buy today. He was real picky about the gear ratio of the rear axle and I had to make sure it was a crew cab with a 5.3 liter engine. Sure enough, we have exactly what he wants, right down to the color.

I set the appointment for 5:PM so his wife could be along for the test drive. Around 4:30, I'm thinking I better fill out the buyer's order before he gets there, so I don't have to mess with things that can trip you up like having to go out on the lot and getting the VIN # and stock #, because I wanted to be at my desk with him and his wife the whole time, just in case I needed to be there to help prevent the ether from wearing off. (That's car dealership talk: ether is the excitement they feel when they're about to buy a car - as a salesman, you don't want that wearing off.)

So I go out on the lot to the truck. It's locked. Oh hell no! Worse than it being locked, I don't see the keys anywhere in it. So I'm thinking, "OK, just go inside and pull the deal jacket for the extra set of keys - no big whoop." WRONG!!!! There is no extra set of keys in the deal jacket. I start asking the other salesmen if they know where the keys to this truck are. No one knows, no one cares. The owner of the dealership is in, and he hears what's going on, and all he can say is, "Better find those damned keys before you appointment shows, that's all I gotta say." (He's all heart when it comes to money.)

The acting new car manager happens to hear what's going on, and he says, "I've got an idea." We go over to his desk, and he pulls out a slim jim and a black pair of leather gloves. I said, "We better hurry, because it's a quarter till and I don't want them to see you trying to break into their test drive."

While we're walking across the lot to get to the truck, this car pulls into the lot with a couple inside. They park the car right in front of Jerry and I's path, and the guy gets out and says, "Which one of you guys is Boris Yeltsin? I'm a little early for my test drive, but you guys bugged me enough about this truck (I called him 4 times on his cell phone while he was at work) so I'm anxious to see this thing!"

Jerry's wearing black leather gloves and walking at this guy with a slim-jim. I said, "Well, you're in luck, because Jerry's about to get us into your test drive right now." I didn't know what else to say. The guy says, "This ain't right." I'm thinking, "Of course it ain't right mister - turn around and run like hell!"

Jerry in all of his tact, says, "I'm too short to see down inside the door, so Boris, get on the other side of the truck and look at the lock on the driver's door; when you see it start to jiggle, hollar out!"

So Jerry, with no regard for what it may look like, or what kind of damage he may be doing to the inner door of the truck, starts moving the slim-jim up and down, like he's jacking it off.

"Do you know which lock I'm talking about, Boris?"

"Yeah Jerry, there's only one on the driver's door. Jerry, as much as I'd like to sit here and watch you do this, I was thinking we could get Mr. and Mrs. Smith here, inside for some refreshments. I know it won't take you long to do this."

"No, I'm curious now," says Mr. Smith. We'll watch - maybe even help.

The lock starts jiggling after about 5 mintues, so Jerry yanks up real hard, and releases the lock. OK, so we get the door open. Jerry's hyping it up like we're going to get the keys, so we look, and we look, and we look. Do you have any idea how many knooks and crannys a Chevy Silverado 3/4 ton has in the cab? We looked about 3 times, and still no keys.

So I lie - or at least I thought I was: "I know a spot where we can get a set of keys for this truck; let's just go inside and get some refreshments." I'm lying like a motherfucker, and I know it.

I get the couple settled at my desk, and I go back outside, thinking I'll look under the truck and put my head down and look on the ground over the path from the showroom to the truck, anything to find those damned keys.

I'm on my hands and knees feeling under the truck, when out of no where the service manager appears. He's never on the lot. He says, "Boris, what the f*** are you doing?" as he chuckles. I told him about the keys. All of a sudden, a big gust of wind blows really hard, and we both hear the tinkling sound of metal hitting pavement. Evidently, one of the salesmen pulled all the keys to all the trucks in that row, and placed those keys on the hood of this car the service manager was standing near. (This row of trucks was out in the grass near the ditch, far away from the lot, so the salesman put the keys to all of those trucks in that row, on the that car on the lot, so when the guy who puts the keys on this big metal ring goes around collecting the keys, he wouldn't have to walk out in the grass, all the way to the ditch.)

It would've been great if they told me that's where the keys were, but of course, they didn't.

So I find the keys to my truck, put them in the ignition, and take off like a bat out of hell toward the part of my building near my desk. I'm thinking it's getting a little hot in the truck, so I hit the button for the electric window, and wouldn't you know this truck has an "auto-down" feature, which means when you hit the button for the window, it goes all the way down. Great, right? Not when the slim-jim is still stuck between the window and the door. I hear this horrible screeching sound. It's the slim-jim. I hit the button to stop the noise, but the slim-jim got tangled up, down inside the door when the window went down, so it was stuck. It actually wrapped around the bottom of the window, but the slim-jim is so long, there's still about 8" of slim-jim sticking out of the door.

So, I go to my desk where our lovely couple is sitting, and I say, "Your chariot awaits." They go out to the truck, get inside, and we're off. The first thing the guy wants to do is roll the windows up and get the air on. I'm like, "NO!!!! Uh, I mean, just put the air on - the slim-jim is stuck inside the door - don't worry, we'll have service take care of that first thing in the morning!"

Then, everything looks like it's going good, and the guy says, "One thing I always do on a test-drive, is take my hands off the wheel while the vehicle is in motion, to see who the steering is."

He takes his hands off the wheel, and the truck pulls so hard to the right, I swear we pulled a few G's!

I just didn't know what to say. Needless to say, I didn't get the sale.

Our Monday morning meeting, we're reviewing some of the sales that were close, but not quite, and the owner of the dealership goes, "So Boris, why do you think this couple didn't buy when we had everything they were looking for?"

I felt like saying, "Everything but a competent staff," but I held that little nugget in. I said, "That thing pulls to the right like you wouldn't believe. We should have service look at it."

The owner says, "It wasn't the truck pulling - you must've done something to turn their "buy-switch off."

Then he goes into a tyrade about how, when it comes to people looking at cars, somebody's buying something: either the customer is buying a car, or the salesman is buying the customer's lies about why they don't want the car you've got them on - regardless, someone's buying something, whether you realize it or not."

I believe that, but I didn't want to say that I asked where the keys were and no one told me. Believe me, in that environment, you'll look like a whiney little bitch if you do that. All I could do was just take it.

It's a tough business, but after 15 years in a factory, I've come to the realization, every business is a tough business.