The job is done




The photo is of me, salesman Tim, Peggy, and our new car. After an intensive two and half week search, we finally brought home a Toyota yesterday (it's not the prettiest car we looked at, but I don't want to be stranded on the side of the road in a pretty car). Peggy wanted to celebrate by going out to eat, but I am so deficient in the emotional and physical ability to deal with the stress of car-buying, that I just wanted to go to bed. 

Tim was our final salesman, and Peggy quickly trusted him. Because Peggy doesn't trust easily, and because I have confidence in her discernment, I paid attention to that and started looking for the good in Tim even while trying to find a better price elsewhere and wondering if we shouldn't wait for the end-of-year rebates. Tim soon won me over to the point that Peggy and I decided that we would buy from him even if we could get a better price elsewhere, this based upon our belief that he was caring and had integrity in a field where such virtues are little found. I'll give you an example.

We initially worked with another salesman at the same dealership (Lithia of Springfield). The man's name was Rodney, and he and I had spoken on the phone, so when Peggy and I went to the dealership, we asked for him, and only started working with Tim when Rodney wasn't available. After talking with Tim for at least an hour, Peggy came down with a migraine about the time that Rodney appeared. I found him dour and aggressive, an observation that was confirmed when Peggy said that she really needed to go home, only to have Rodney continue trying to sell her a car. We went home anyway, and I wrote to Tim that I didn't want to work with Rodney anymore because he had shown no concern for Peggy's welfare. Because I had let him get away with it for several minutes, I was also mad at myself for not taking care of my wife when she wasn't in a good place to take care of herself. As Peggy later said, "I was too sick to think clearly, and I really need to think clearly when I'm buying a car."

I like to believe that Peggy and I work as an effective team, but when it comes to anything having to do with numbers, she's better than I because she's more detail oriented, and, as skeptical as I am, I don't know but what she's also quicker to spot bullshit. For example, when we were in Jack's office (Jack being the guy who has you sign all of the many papers that it takes to buy a car even when you're paying cash for it), Peggy expressed interest in the "lifetime oil change" for $649. I wasn't keen on this--I've always done my own oil changes--but she was, and I was willing to give in. The problem was that your first two years of oil changes are free anyway, so I asked Jack why we shouldn't wait and buy-in after the two years were up. He said we could, but that it would cost $200 more. I said, okay then, we'll get it now. Only later did it occur to me that he was almost surely lying (prices tend to go down rather than up when it's the last chance to sell something to a customer), but Peggy recognized it right away and rolled her eyes at Jack. The question I had to ask myself was why I didn't catch-on. Is it because people are more easily taken in the older they get? I think that was probably the reason, and it's why I feel the need to run my decisions past Peggy. The leads me to regard myself as moving in the direction of ever greater helplessness, of being a burden as it were.

When I was young, I could be cheated due to a lack of experience, whereas I am now more vulnerable to being cheated due to a lack of quick thinking and discernment. It's also true that society operates on the premise that, in most situations, most people are going to tell us the truth, so when we get into a situation in which we're blitzkrieged by lies, we're not prepared to deal with it other than by dismissing everything we're told as just another lie, but doing this leaves us with no basis upon which to make an intelligent decision. At some point, we have to believe someone, and our job became easier when we started to believe Tim, although it didn't keep us from learning all we could from sites like Consumer Reports, U.S. News and World Report, and Kelley Blue Book.

When I was a young man, I worked in a series of funeral homes, and found them like car sales in that they relied upon tricks and misinformation at a time when their customers (who were, of course, referred to as the bereaved) were vulnerable. For instance, the customers would be slowly guided through two well-furnished rooms of expensive caskets before reaching the small, unadorned room which contained the poorly-lit cheap ones, and as a final indignity, the funeral home would try to sell the shipping crate that the casket came in. Burying a casket in a pine shipping crate that offered no protection from anything and would soon collapse entirely was just too stupid for words, but it happened more often than not in situations where the customer didn't purchase a steel or concrete vault. I never doubted but what the sales of shipping crates was nothing more than an acknowledged scam within the funeral industry until I overheard two funeral directors trashing a man who refused to buy one, saying, "I guess he didn't care much about his old mama." My god, I thought, they believe their lies. Maybe that's how it is in car sales too, but it doesn't look that way. It just looks like an assault by at least two salesmen and a backroom manager who are out to wear the customer down to the point that he'll do whatever they say just to go home. Every time we buy a car, I tell myself that, this time, it's going to be fun, but with every passing day, I feel a little more worn down.

Tim, though, went out of his way to be helpful, never pressured us, never teamed-up against us (except in the case of Rodney, which he couldn't help), and answered our questions fully. Since I asked a few questions that he could have found insulting (i.e. why is it that so many car salesmen are unethical bullies who are oblivious to people's feelings?), I came to regard him with affection. Even Tim's appearance was non-threatening, due to his being on the elfin side with a magnificently expressive face that portrayed not only his own feelings but his awareness of the feelings of others. He also had striking blue eyes, and I considered him a handsome man. Oddly enough, he was also a bit of a motor mouth, and while I usually find such people tiring due to their self-absorption, Tim was not only a talker, he was also a listener, and I soon came to find his talk soothing because the more he talked, the less I had to. If nothing else, it showed that he had things on his mind other than pressuring us into buying a car. Tim is the kind of person who is so good at what he does that I wish I had a job for him so I could hire him away. And as I said, Peggy trusted him, and this alone was reason enough for me to trust him. 

My biggest problem with Peggy in such situations as buying a car is that the older she gets, the more willful she gets, and once she says that such and such is very important to her, I give up even trying to discuss it. So it was with the lifetime oil change. It probably will save us money, if Lithia honors its word, but only time will tell. Only today did Peggy tell me all of the reasons that she was so set on it: (1) Her father will pay for it if we buy it now (he's buying this car for us); (2) I might become frail or die, making it necessary for her to take charge of car maintenance;  (3) The service includes tire rotation and various inspections; (4) The car requires synthetic oil, and synthetic oil is expensive, so the cost of doing it myself would be higher than with the conventional oil I've always used. I could have added two other considerations: I very much hate doing oil changes during winter when it's raining and so cold that my Raynaud's Disease makes my fingers turn yellow and lose feeling. Also, Toyota will have less excuse to deny warranty-related work if they're the ones doing the servicing.

In all fairness to Peggy, I'm not immune to putting my own foot down, my do-or-die issue being the color of the car--it has to be white. It's also true that I have other go to the grave defending values. For example, at my insistence, we've painted three of the four houses we've owned the same colors (soft blue with beige trim), and I can be equally adamant about other work we do and things we buy. Even agreeing on a new doormat can turn into a major decision for us because we are both (a) strong-willed about home decoration, and (b) we have different preferences; and these factors oblige us to find acceptable compromises no matter how long it takes. I attribute our difficulty to the fact that I have better taste than Peggy, not that she's astute enough to admit it.

This talk of color brings to mind the paper-signing at the dealership. Jack put a blue mark everywhere I was to sign and a pink mark where Peggy was to sign. The funny thing about this was that I prefer pink to blue (my room is pink), and Peggy prefers blue to pink. Although I'm not effeminate, and she's not masculine, there are many ways in which we fit the stereotypes of the opposite gender.

18 comments:

BBC said...

Toyota is an excellent brand and choice.

Elephant's Child said...

I am so happy that you reached an acceptable compromise. And admire your relationship with Peggy.

kylie said...

In this case, I would say that the price of the lifetime oil changes probably does go up after the warranty period because they want to motivate you to buy now. Not many people are going to buy a lifetime oil change package when the excitement of a new car has worn off.

My son's girl just bought a new car and she doesn't even have a licence yet. She was done over good and proper with a $2K delivery charge and a 1K extended warranty that she didnt exactly want. She took her mother with her and her mum gets overly excited and agrees with the salesman on anything they say, leaving the young one to pay for it. After hearing that story, I'm not sure that I ever want to darken the door of a car dealership.

Enjoy your new motor!!

possum said...

Excellent. Good luck with your purchase.
I own 2 Toyotas... the van I mentioned before, and a used Tundra I bought a couple years ago that had 165,000 miles on it when I bought it. I hated borrowing someone's truck when I needed some concrete blocks or 20 bags of mulch... Charlie uses the truck everyday (I hate to drive it because it is too big for me) and it is still running great. It is a 2001, was already dinged so I figured if he scratched it I wouldn't notice (but I did.) The dog loves it but requires a bench to get in it, bless her older heart...

I know you and Peggy will be happy. Excellent choice!

Charles Gramlich said...

Our last car buying trip was a horrendous experience. I really hate the whole process. Glad you got something good though.

Helen said...

Job well done! I saved the photo, one of the best of Peggy and you! We have Raynaud's in common. Hope your week is a good one and happy trails!

BBC said...

Being a dealership mechanic I always got good deals on any cars I got from them but mostly I've bought cars from private sellers.

All Consuming said...

I love the car, it appeals to me instantly, yet is larger than the kind I'd normally prefer. You do make a great team, and like Peggy I am more likely to spot a deceptive sort than hubby, and I am pretty willful, but try not to railroad any decisions unless health is involved. She was right bout the oil, and I think this car will serve you so well for as long as you need it.I can imagine your fears of losing parts of yourself as you age, it's hard because you are such a capable person and always have been. Lean on each other and try not to think too far ahead. Keep digging that hole to the UK an all.

And I LOVE the photograph! You both look great, despite how you may feel physically and mentally, you really do look wonderful, and Peggy and I share the same taste in clothes it would appear as that's exactly the kind of dress and pattern I wear all the time, but with short sleeves and in purples and greens. It's uncanny! Now I've said the differences it doesn't sound uncanny but it really is. *nods a lot smiling*. Sending love to you both Xxx

lotta joy said...

CONgratulations!!!!! Buying a car is so exhausting you can't even step out of your car without three people approaching from different angles. The salesman I talked to ON THE PHONE, promised me such a low price, pinky swear, that we showed up for the appointment and he wasn't even scheduled to be there that day. So...mama had a fit. Supersized, until the salesman who came to take care of us left. Enter: management, with two other managers watching. The good part was, they were countrified and one was from Indiana.

Like Peggy, the stress gave me a migraine and my low blood sugar had me wobbling to the point they feared me falling over. They gave me candy for the blood sugar, gave me the car I was interested in, and showed us how to get to ARBY'S. While at Arby's, they called ME (not Joe) and said they had a surprise for me. When we got back, they had found the color car from another dealership (gray) that I wanted, with the added features I wanted.

I hugged them. First car experience I ever enjoyed. And we bought a ten year warranty. It will outlive us, but in the meantime, I don't have cause to worry about anything.

Our first truck, they asked if we wanted a tailgate. A tailgate? I had no idea they came separately. That was WAY "back when". I got a bit frisky, and said I wasn't going to pay the dealer fee, because that's "what they do", not ME. I then asked for the bed to be coated. When he quoted the price, I said "I want the coating, but I'm not going to pay for it". I don't know how I got away with it, but I don't back down from a stand-off.

lotta joy said...

I totally forgot two important things. All three of you look happy. Peggy looks super fantastic and happy. I LOVE the car you chose. Did I see a sunroof??????? I admire you for allowing Peggy to do what she does best - and she did. I see this as a win, win, win for all three of you.

Stephen Hayes said...

Salespeople don't like me very much because I'm a fierce negotiator, and I'm never reluctant to walk away if the deal isn't right. I will say it looks like a wonderful car.

Emma Springfield said...

The first thing I find myself thinking is that you and Peggy compliment each other so well. Your story about searching for a car seems to have a happy ending. I'm happy for you.

Strayer said...

Nice looking car! And you have your arm around Tim. That's precious. Just kidding. I've never bought a car myself outside of a couple of junkers. Sounds like you and Peggy are a formidable team, both having strengths and you let each other do what each does best. My father was such a push over, easily conned. By man or woman. He went with me to check out a Vega wagon. I had no car. I asked the guy selling about oil use, but he and my father had already bonded, my father being the submissive in the bond, and my father gave me a sour look and said "anybody can tell its in good shape, it's a done deal". I bought the car. Sure it was only a few hundred dollars, but the damn thing used a quart of oil every 100 miles so I had to carry cases of oil and it didn't last a year.

Myrna R. said...

Congratulations on your new car. My husband and I bought one recently too. What an ordeal. Glad you chose a good salesperson and how nice that you and Peggy know the way to compromise in your relationship.

kj said...

so you and i have white toyota ravs! best wishes with it. i think you'll be very happy.

this was fun to read.

love
kj

Sparkling Red said...

Congrats on the new car! May it provide you with many years of safe driving.

I like the Jewish tradition of burying everyone in a plain pine-wood coffin. No matter what your status is in life, when you go underground, your job is to decompose and be eaten by worms a.s.a.p. There is no embalming, no vault, and no satin pillows. The only part I don't like is that you're not supposed to be cremated, which is too bad because I'd like to be cremated, but I wouldn't want to upset my surviving family.

-b9 said...

Dunno what sex you are, so I shall keep it neutral, like the word IT, howzat??

God bless

hannah jane said...

Congrats on your new car! I had a Toyota Matrix that never gave me any problems. It was an amazing little car. The whole pine crate/casket business is horrifying but sadly, doesn't surprise me. Sales is a tough job for all parties.