One Sunflower

Nemo vs.. The Sharks

on July 27, 2010

slice of a teacher’s life

My car died two weeks ago. Since I hadn’t expected it to last through the school year, June was a bonus.  That car had been the first one I’d ever shopped for; I purposely bought a Saturn because I didn’t want to dicker about the price.

This time around I began on the internet, checked out Consumer Reports at the library and gathered advice from relatives.   Finally, I couldn’t put off going to a car lot to meet with  the “sharks” in white shirts and khaki’s that lurked beside the polished metal and chrome.

Lucky for me I found James.  He just happened to be the first guy who strode across the black asphalt full of balloon festooned cars.  I spent 2 hours with him, walking around the lot and driving cars.  I got to know quite a bit about James.  He was born and raised in Michigan, but I think he left to ski his way around the world, in and out of a few relationships, married, divorced, engaged, unengaged.  I decided he probably works to ski; he told me he can smell the snow coming, even what kind of snow it’s going to be, and he loves it.

James took notes on me too.  I didn’t see them but I can guess what he wrote down:

  • son in wheelchair, wants hatchback or wagon, not sedan
  • husband tall, needs head and leg room
  • daughter in Seattle, wants automatic to handle the hills
  • teacher – needs a cheap car
  • school is out in county, needs a car with low mileage, fuel efficient
  • not awed by a car’s bells and whistles
  • lived here awhile, went on roads in this town I’m not familiar with!

I was feeling pretty good that first day – James wasn’t pressuring me,  so I asked him for his card.  We entered the front offices of the show room and then the real sharks circled around. Three of them stepped towards me with tanned faces, flashy grins, and pressed white shirts.  “What kind of car can we find for you today, little lady?” I could tell right away that while James might be over 50, he was the new kid in this pool and these big boys were in charge.  I had to play by their rules for a while.  I let them question me but I was dodging like Nemo, and finally extricated myself from that foyer and back to the parking lot.  James walked me out and apologized,  “Sorry about that.  I’m old school – for me it’s about the relationship with the customer.”   BING – 2 points for you, James.

I purposely waited until James was back on the job two days later before I visited again.  I spent another two hours with him.  Because James is a new hire, we ended up having Shark Tom in on the end game.   I really wanted to konk Tom.  His idea of connecting with me was to talk about how much money he’s put aside in trusts for his daughters and how he counseled his youngest not to become a teacher – because the pay is lousy.

I know sales is a job but I’d rather have a salesman like James, someone who tells me how much he loves snow and rubs his back talking about how he hopes to stay active into old age.  I hope James is skiing when he’s 90, and I really hope my sale went to James and not Tom.

see more slice entries at Two Writing Teacher’s link

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6 responses to “Nemo vs.. The Sharks

  1. Tara says:

    We need more people like James in this world!

  2. elsie says:

    Love your description of the salesmen! I think they have worked at our car dealers too. Glad you found a real person to deal with. They are far and few between. But, the lingering question is what car did you get?

  3. Juliann says:

    Wow – that was a lot of time to spend with a salesperson. I felt myself cringe when started talking about the sharks!

  4. mag says:

    Insightful character sketch and contrast and comparison… and fun to read, despite the negative overtones of the whole car buying experience. You showed so much through your brief poat.

  5. Theresa says:

    What a tribute to a gem amidst the sharks. I too am wondering what kind of car you decided on. Hopefully I meet a James when my quest for a new car is underway this fall.

  6. Lynnelle says:

    I love, love, love the Nemo Vs. Shark theme in the slice. Hoping James got the credit for the car sale, but I too wanted to know what kind of car you got. I have been dreading the moment my 12 year old Honda decides to “die.” I love not having a car payment.

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