By Daniel A Medina
Some lessons are never learned. Some would call people fools who don’t learn from life’s many miscues and blunders. Those who garner wisdom from bad experiences and poor decisions are considered wise. By this standard Ramon should be the modern King Solomon but he wasn’t. The only constant in his life was drinking alcohol.
He had to write to keep the demons out of his head. Those bastard thoughts fathered by unknown men, could make Ramon go insane if left unkempt in his weary mind. Ramon didn’t care for success anymore he just wanted a simple life free from debt and worry. He was beginning to think that did not exist.
“Maybe there isn’t a simple life, worry is a useless verb, the results of any situation are out of my hands”, the bastards began to stir.
“I should stop drinking, I’m killing myself and my Angelitas, I need to sell a car and stop gambling!”
“I owe so much money, I haven’t done my taxes and maybe I will be thrown in jail like the tax commercial on the radio keeps telling me”.
The words kept entering his giant Mexican head, it was like the morning after Thanksgiving when they open the doors at Best Buy. Hundreds of shoppers looking for the same items, hundreds of words all trying to do the same thing to poor Ramon…they were trying to kill him!
“My hair is thin and grey; I think I have high blood pressure and diabetes… possibly cancer”.
“I’m nauseous, I need to eat but I have only five dollars and I owe so much money plus I haven’t done my taxes!”
That was all Ramon could take, he had to write. He had to flush the demonic thoughts and ideas from his complicated brain. He began the furious tapping on his Blackberry phone.
Since Ramon didn’t bother with up loading apps and so on he would just tap out a really long email to himself and deal with the details later.
As he wrote, keeping one eye on the beat up asphalted car lot, the worry began to fade in the winter breeze. His troubles shrunk back to the normal sized woes of the common man. His heart rate slowed and fear became a stranger once again.
Time to sell baby!
Those of you sweet readers that have never been in sales might not understand the tension and stress of the salesman. The used car salesman is the most despised and pigeonholed salesperson in the history of sales, even hookers selling their “you know what” get more respect than your local “used car guy”.
Why are they treated so miserably in society? Most would say they are dishonest, pushy, classless and above all deceptive. These general indictments of this sub sect of salesman simply can’t cover all used car dealers.
Ramon’s technique was the soft sell, he applied very little pressure and lots of smiling. He spoke clearly and intelligently about almost any subject so he got along just fine with just about anyone. When he sensed the client was ready he lowered the volume of his voice which automatically opened his client’s ears and somehow made the situation just a bit more serious. He learned this whispering technique from his Uncle Rogelio.
Uncle thought it ironic that when a man or woman yells or screams most don’t want to listen but when you take the volume down to a whisper people want to hear what you have to say.
Ramon only struggled with his co workers, they were constantly complaining about their workplace. There is a nasty technique widely used in the automotive sales industry it’s called “krappin” somebody out.
This occurs almost every day and the idea is to “krap out” your fellow man by complaining him into feeling bad about selling used cars thusly improving your chances of selling a car. There is always the outside chance the used car guy gets so down he just throws in the towel and quits which also improves your chances to sell a car (mathematically speaking of course).
Here are some examples of “krap out” lines;
“This place is dead, I’m thinking about going to XYZ lot down the street!”
“Oh you want to share my desk with me? That’s cool, I’m fuckin out of here anyway this place sucks!
“We paid 8000 for this truck and I sold it for 15,000 and I only made 200.00 bucks, they are stealing from us”
This is a two part “krap”.
Salesman #1: “Wow its dead today huh?”
Salesman #2: “Dead? This is a busy day for us…you haven’t seen dead yet!”
Fighting boredom and cynicism are the main obstacles Ramon faced over the years but Ramon loved the spontaneity and unpredictability of the business.
You never know.
That is the motto of any salesman worth his weight. One moment you are leaning on a truck writing a poem that no one will read, broke as a joke and the next moment somebody saunters onto the asphalt playground and your whole day changes.
It is true that selling involves a bit of luck and Karma so Ramon was always very careful with his words and actions.
He never stole from anyone and despised dishonesty. All bad seeds make bad fruit, good seeds make good fruit and that is what Ramon needed. He couldn’t afford anything to go wrong in his bounded up budget. He wouldn’t steal a nickel candy, he couldn’t lie about anything, not because he wanted to be pious or conceited, he just wanted to sell lots of cars and win boatloads of money gambling.
One day a young lady was walking down the street in front of the car lot where Ramon worked. She had dark black hair, white teeth and wore a white dress with white boots. She was walking a white dog named Princess.
Princess was a terrier and a long lost cousin to “Terry” the dog who played the role of “Toto” so well in the 1939 feature film “The Wizard of Oz”. Terry turned in an Oscar worthy performance all the while nursing a broken foot.
What a small world.
Ramon was in good spirits; his team had covered the point spread and lowered his considerable gambling debt by 750.00.
“You know you could be driving instead of walking”.
“Sure…I have a white Camry that matches your outfit and your dog”
Each time she said “Really” the pitch of her voice crescendoe’d and rose higher and higher. She sounded like Mariah Carey or a dolphin.
“My name is Ramon, welcome to Toyota Miss”
“Thank you…can I really buy this car?”
“Of course, why not? Let’s take it out for a nice drive…what’s your name?”
“Norma…sure let’s go!”
“We can take it on the freeway, if you’d like”
They turned the corner onto Van Ness Avenue and proceeded to the 101 southbound. The day was clear and fresh, the traffic was moving quickly in the mid day sun. Ramon hated test drives but they were unavoidable. The most dangerous part of the car salesman’s job is the test drive.
As they pulled around the flat grey concrete onto the circled on ramp Ramon’s mind began to speak, “This girl is a fool…a foolish fool, she can’t drive…I can’t stand small dogs”
His body looked over at the smiling black haired chimp and shrugged his shoulders, “it is what it is”, said the mind.
They slid through the San Francisco skyline; two strangers on a wild ride underneath the psychedelic clouded canopy of blues and whites. The wind was clean and purposeful, guiding Ramon’s spirit to fly freely and his mind to settle in its nest.
As they left the city’s remains in the sparkle of the rear view mirror, the sun beamed upon them like God’s divine pinky ring bling.
“Oh my God I have never been on the freeway!”
Ramon’s body was cringing.
“This is great! Wait…the sun is in my eyes…oh my God”
“Hey..go….GO! GO!…” Ramon grabbed her knee and pushed it on the gas pedal. Ramon’s alleged high blood pressure was banging and zipping through his body like a cluster of hopped up bumble bees buzzing through arteries and veins. Meanwhile cars, trucks and vans flew by them honking and swearing in the mid day sun.
Within seconds, that seemed like hours, they were back to highway speed,
Ramon let loose of her knee and the car began to slow again. “Hey don’t…!” The girl’s knee disconnected from her thigh…she had a prosthetic leg.
Ramon hadn’t noticed her false leg upon first glance; she hid it well under her white boots. He remembered her gait had the slightest of wobble to it but Ramon wasn’t interested in her sway but in her ability to buy. A test drive from the depths of hell; Ramon had to hold the fake calf down on the gas pedal until they reached an exit where Ramon took the wheel.
Norma was deep into frenzy mode. Her body was filling itself with endorphins and began screaming; at that point Ramon was convinced she was at least part dolphin. Princess started barking and even though they couldn’t understand the cotton balled pooch it was clear she was angry. During all the chaos, Ramon forgot to give her leg back, he had her plastic foot and calf combo in his hand as he jumped out of the car to switch places with Norma.
Poor Norma was hopping on her good leg as she moved across the back of the car to the other side.
They looked like two maniacs involved in wild Chinese fire drill; Ramon running around the front of the car holding a leg and Norma hopping earnestly with spare boot in hand.
To Princess’s credit she did not take part in the parade but instead remained buckled to her seat.
Ramon buckled his seat belt and handed the leg to Norma. Ramon’s body was fried from the pseudo-hypertension.
“That was unbelievable! Kind of embarrassing for me but the brakes work great and we accelerated and got up to freeway speed in a jiffy!” “I’m totally sold, let me just get my leg and boot situated then we can go back to the dealership”.
Ramon’s mind, body and spirit were baffled and neither of the three reacted in any way until the body was safe on the showroom floor.
“Ms Norma, it is very difficult to know what to say” said Ramon as he pulled out a chair for the woman who almost killed him.
Ramon’s body began to relax and his mind reminded him of the task at hand. “This girl is crazy Ramon but she is licensed and very soon will be insured by Ali and off in her new car” said the mind.
Ramon smiled, “It’s very exciting isn’t it Norma? We sell cars everyday so for us it’s a job but we must not forget that buying a new car is exciting”
“Please promise me Norma you will take a few driving lessons before you get out onto the freeway!”
Ramon kept smiling, “You must promise me or I will not sell this car to you and your dog!”
They both started laughing. Ramon was laughing because the girl was just walking down the street minding her business walking her dog and 2 hours later he was making his rent. Norma didn’t know why she was laughing but she had a good howl. Princess didn’t think any of it was funny at all and was shocked her foolish owner just decided to buy a car after that performance behind the wheel.
Luckily for our hero, Princess didn’t speak English or the whole deal might have imploded.
After all the paperwork was signed, Ramon shook Norma’s hand and thanked her for her business.
“Well Ms. Norma that was an adventure I will never forget”
Norma was one of Ramon’s only customers who left him speechless. Ramon just smiled and told her congratulations. As they drove off, Princess poked her head over the back seat and barked angrily at Ramon.
Ramon made over 1700.00 that day including his gambling money and within four hours he did his job, he covered the rent again.
Ramon caught the train back to his neighborhood. His mind kept replaying the scene of the terrier speaking her mind behind the rear window.
Two weeks later Norma wrecked the car on the freeway, she stopped because the sun got in her eyes. She broke 25 bones and couldn’t walk for two months.
Some lessons are never learned.
Princess wasn’t in the car at the time of the wreck, wise dog, foolish fool.