Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Why I still don't have a car

A tale: Girl seeks first car

It falls on the salesperson to soothe, flatter and inform; I'd put the car dealer at the pinnacle of the profession's heap – salesperson times n. Unflappable: the client's correct, the request within norms, the situation prosaic in its normalness - we pay taxes, vote, own cars.

But I know that, for a moment at least last Saturday, Sam of Ruge's Rhinebeck Subaru was thrown.

From first step onto the lot (from our tin rental), I made sure Sam knew he wouldn't be dealing with a savvy driver. (And illustrated novice status by making the short tour around the crowded lot in a 2001 Forester appear fraught with danger.) My specifications: it should run, rubber bumpers, not too too many miles, a station car, let's put sturdy reliability above all other sought features, I thought screamed pure novice.

But it took 2 hours of touring the lot's Forester candidates, and a clutch of CarFax reports and Kelly Blue Book values, for the truth to emerge.

“Your first car?”

Had I indicated familiarity amidst my bumbling? I don't think so, just that the impossibility of that (34 year old buys first car) was, for Sam, too shocking and, somehow, too personal too.

He backed away from it, we never returned to it, but the dynamic of the afternoon had shifted. There was some ugly step-child of disgust and pity coming from Sam, like he'd stood for an anthem only to realize the fellow next to him was humming (faked through the first stanza). Or that you can't boil eggs, pitch a tent.

It was a failing as an American that I'd brushed up against in my childhood – a miscellaneous toss-up of abroad and urban – that had again tipped me into just too foreign.

We didn't recover that Saturday. I think a little of the steam left Sam and not much later he left us on the lot, still tweedling between three first car candidates, and sat down with an elderly couple who, he could be sure, has car ownership(s) in their long history.

C - car-less

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another week has passed and I hope you found some gentle sales person to sell you a car. Seems like I would be out of luck too (30 and no car).

Luckily I love my bike.

ps. john's bike got stolen today...