Fucking Everyone Over

The first secular job I took since my resignation from the ministry was selling cars. After 3 months of unemployment and trying frantically to get work, I wound up in the 8-by-10 office of the manager of a local San Antonio car dealership who was nice enough to give me the chance with no prior experience in the car selling field. I was excited, but had no idea what I was in for.

Being a car salesman is tough because everyone hates your guts like old eggs. You get treated like a lawyer, a perceived shyster son-of-a-bitch who's just trying to make a buck at the expense of honesty and truth. Actually, selling cars taught me that it's the buyers who lie way more than the salesmen...

Customer: "I saw this car cheaper at the other dealership I was just at."
My reply: "Really? Then why didn't you buy the fucking thing?"

...but I suppose that's another matter. I always thought selling cars would be fun because you get to talk about the stats and features of the vehicles you're peddling, but I came to see that it's not about that at all. It's about moving inventory, crunching numbers, closing deals (with a heavy hand, if necessary), and holding gross. The closer you can stay to the sticker price when closing a deal, the better. Or, if you can peal someone off the ceiling and get even more for the vehicle, all the better. I remember my very first sale, a black 2002 Chevy Malibu. I was high with excitement.

But I also found that the car business is far dirtier than even the porn industry. It is a haven for people with criminal records. Some of the biggest adulterous cocaine snorters I ever met sold cars. I walked into the office of a finance manager who was snorting away his chopped breakfast just as I was hoping to close a deal. I've worked with a guy who did 8 years in the state penitentiary for shooting a man who owed him money. Drug-users, sex offenders...I've worked with them all. They were liars, dirty liars and morally questionable people in most every way. One man I knew would always give us the low-down on his affair five years running with some floozy he was meeting behind his wife's back. Hey, it was his own life. I just minded my own business and appreciated the job for what it was worth.

I made some money and then I quit making money. The car business is designed to get fresh talent, "green peas" as they are called, and squeeze the juice out of them, and when they burn out, they get tossed. It's a cutthroat industry. Your bosses love you as long as you're helping butter their bread, and when you're not, they hate you, even if you were last month's selling superstar. That's the way it works. But what never ceased to occupy my mind was the treachery with which all we humans operate, and not just the car salesmen. We treat each other like shit and the world keeps going around. Never did this become more apparent than in the note car sales department.

Note cars are dealership owned cars, and unlike regularly financed cars which are financed through banks, they are financed in-house and outside of banks. No loans are required; the customer gets the vehicle and has to pay the dealership directly. These note cars are what makes the "credit doesn't matter" car lots possible. Because they are owned in-house, they are cheap cars (both in quality and in price) and when a deal is made on them, the cost of the vehicle is put down up front. That pays off the vehicle, so if the deadbeat to whom it is sold refuses to pay the agreed upon bi-weekly payment, the vehicle is repossessed and then sold again to someone else, resulting in a huge long-term dealer profit. The nice, new, shiny vehicles on the main lot, those are bank financed vehicles. It requires good credit to get them, but the note lot is where you take those with shitty credit--those with beacon scores of 510 or less. They're fucked. They can't go anywhere. They're at our mercy. And the cars suck, and the people who buy them are silently scorned by the dealership because they aren't worth much. That means they better have cash to put down up front. But the note lot was where the real bad stuff was. The note cars were the worst still-drive-able cars available.

I once sold a 2001 Kia Sephia. It was midnight blue and would have been a pretty car were it not for the massive dent on the right side of the hood just above the headlight where rust had consumed it nearly straight through. And that wasn't all; the back had been crushed in during a wreck and rebuilt, but not properly. So as it drove, the back tires would scrape against the wheel wells loudly, making a horrible scraping sound. Piece o' Poop! Your date will be real proud of you in this thing--even more so if she has the honor of getting picked up or dropped off where friends are present! It got worse as the vehicle picked up speed and began to shave off the back tires with a low-vibrating hum being heard in the vehicle! The vehicle needed an alignment worse than I'd have imagined possible, making the driver fight and nearly sprain his wrist trying to keep the vehicle from diving off the road to the right! Kias suck as far as quality and reliability are concerned in general, but this gave a whole new meaning to the term "crapola."

I sold the thing, crappy as it was, but like most note vehicles, it came back on the repo truck only a month later because the stupid dick-wipe to whom I sold it didn't pay on it. I want to call him a fucking loser, but then the car did suck a mean ricardo! I'll settle for just calling him stupid since he put down $2,300 of his own money on the car and then walked away from it.

Then there was my attempted sale of a 1993 Dodge Dakota. The truck was dark green and the body was intact, except for a massively rusted left side of the truck bed. The would-be owner really dug that! The steering column that had been graciously ripped open and hot-wired by kind gentlemen at some point in the past--now that was a big selling feature! And the grass and sand that sat nobly ingrained into the carpeting from the last user (it had never been cleaned upon being repossessed) was just an added bonus to an already fab vehicle! I never sold it. Does that surprise you?

There was a gold 1996 Chrysler LeBaron Turbo that I almost sold to a woman who hadn't paid anything in months. She burst into song for love of it once I opened up the convertible top. That's when she saw that the roof had a leak and water had gotten in and puddled on the back seat, mildewing it. It was then that I learned that rust and grayish white seats ruined from being exposed to the elements will work wonders for a sale!

And I'll never forget the 1989 GMC Sierra Stepside truck I almost sold. The steering column shook and the shift lever was off-kilter so that when you shifted into reverse or drive, you could never tell which gear you were in. You had to experiment to find out if it moved backwards or forwards, and it never stayed in the same place, so there was no way to get it and keep it figured out. I almost ran over a man right in front of his kids because of this piece of dung. The guy's face turned bright red. Luckily, I threw on the brakes in time. But the real highpoint of my selling career on that lot came when I had a man ready to buy it--even with the 293,000 miles it had on it and with blue smoke puffing out the tailpipe! He was a GM enthusiast, and just when we went to crank it up to take it for a ride, the door chime decided it didn't want to go off like it was supposed to when the doors close and the seat belts fastened. Thinking it finally would, we took it for a test drive like that. It never stopped. That conversation of elevated voices went something like this...

Me: "So, [beeeeeeeeep] how long have you been a GM man? [beeeeeeeep]"
Customer: "Oh, all my life. [beeeeeeep ]The last one lasted 500,000 miles until I wrecked it. [beeeeeeeep]"

We were subjected to "beeeeeeeeep" for the whole five-minute trip! It was really fun trying to talk over the sound and drive back to the dealership like that! We got back to the dealership and he said he'd still buy it if we could fix it. I was new still. I thought that to make a deal, they'd fix it, even though I had heard that note cars are never fixed or even cleaned, no matter what. They're just thrown out there as they are. I asked the boss to fix it. He said no. I went to the head honcho and told him the situation, but neither he, nor the maintenance manager himself would give. "They're note cars. We don't fix nothin'." It was never fixed and we lost the deal.

It's a lesson: As humans, we all fuck each other over--somehow, some way, and at some point. If you're a piece of shit who doesn't pay your bills, you're gonna fuck over the people that trusted you to begin with, and then you're gonna get fucked over. If you're a fat-ass car dealer with great credit, you're gonna take those desperate suckers for all they're worth simply because you have them where you want them and they can't do any better. And the car dealers are gonna get fucked over too and are everyday, as every car lot the world over is teaming with low-lives who can't line their pockets to get a deal done. It sucks, but it's life. Everyone's fucking everyone over.

And now, suddenly, everyone has become so tired of having been fucked over for so long that it has finally caught up with us. Car dealers, banks, consumers, etc. everyone's suddenly tired of getting fucked over. Now that the economy is in the toilet, it's open arms and contrite smiles: "Will you give us a bail out, please?" No sir. No ma'am. We've fucked each other over for far too long. We made our bed. Now it's time to lie in it.

Despite the grave predictions of some, I think we may ride these bad economic times out and find clear skies again. The sad thing is, we'll never ride out human nature. We'll keep fucking each other over. It's what we do!

(JH)

1 comment:

  1. your so right the world is fucked even if we managed to get the economy good again its just going to turn into greed and envy all over again

    ReplyDelete

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