Archive » February 1, 2007
By Ernie Witham
The Super Bowl of Car Shopping
I was in my office diligently writing my column even though it was playoff Sunday and a lot of guys would have been…
“Offsides? Where’d you go to referee school? The Braille Institute?”
OK, so I was also watching a little football. It relaxes me…
“Who are you yelling at?” my wife asked. “I thought you were writing your column.”
“I’m just taking a breather.”
“Great, then we can go to the car dealership and look at new cars.”
“What? Now? I’m way too busy… Tackle him for crying out loud! Knock him down! Hit ‘em hit ‘em hit ‘em!”
“You really need to get away from this aggressiveness. Come on, it will only take a few minutes. We’ll just look.”
I hated to leave the game, but we did need a new car. One thing was sure, though, we were going to require a strong defense before we entered the playing field, er, car lot.
I grabbed two bottles of Gatorade and wrapped a towel around my neck. “Whet’s gro,” I said.
“What’s wrong with your mouth?”
“Nothing,” I said, spitting out my mouth guard. “Have you seen my athletic cup?”
“Sorry. I thought it was a soap dish except it was too small to hold a full bar of Dove so I threw it out.”
“That’s funny. Try to keep your sense of humor when you’re staring down the throat of a two-hundred-fifty-pound second-year salesman out of UCLA who hasn’t made a sale all day.”
We circled the lot. The opposing team was nowhere in sight. Maybe we could get in and out without too much contact. We pulled in and parked. I left it running with the doors open.
“OK, let’s huddle,” I said.
My wife threw her arms around me and her voice got a bit husky.
“Huddle, not cuddle. We need a game plan or we are going to end up spending the next five seasons in a used Peugeot with manual windows and an AM radio.”
My wife nodded, finally grasping the seriousness of our situation. We were the underdogs. Seldom had a husband and wife team beat the sales dawgs on their own turf – especially on playoff Sunday.
“Your job,” I said, “is to keep them occupied while I do an end-around and check out the goal vehicle. Got it?”
“Go Big E,” she said, slapping my butt.
They emerged from the showroom in a classic wedge, sending one salesman wide left and another wide right, while the big guns came straight at us crouched low, ready to pounce.
“Howdy,” said the lead guy. His nametag said: “Buck.” Not a good sign.
“We’re just looking,” my wife said.
They smiled. One of them spit his gum out. Another grabbed his crotch and did a few head rolls. The others just gritted their teeth.
“I understand,” Buck said. “We want to make this as painless as possible. Let’s start with a test drive… Is that your husband heading toward the SUVs?”
I heard a few knuckles crack but I kept my head down and my gait steady.
“Oh my,” my wife said, as she grabbed her ankle. The old fake injury distraction. Great move.
I ducked into the SUVs. They were scrambling now. “Hey buddy,” said a lanky representative. “Let’s talk payments.”
“Just browsing,” I said. I stepped left and turned right, leaving him in the dust.
“I’m going to finance you,” he yelled behind me.
“No way,” I said. “We’ve got a credit union loan.”
The other cornerback salesman came out of nowhere. “You're gonna need an extended warrantee,” he yelled, spittle flying from his lips.
“Not a chance,” I said.
“Chrome wheels and leather seats,” a salesman yelled from the sidelines, trying to pull the old “options” play.
I pivoted, button-hooked and headed for the end zone. My wife was already in the driver’s seat and rolling out to her left when I jumped in.
“What did you think of it?” she asked.
I looked back at the small SUV standing trophy-like in the sun.
“I think we need one with more room in the backfield.”
“Should we go to another dealership?”
I put my mouthpiece in. “Whab da hell,” I said.
My wife slugged down her Gatorade. “Bring it on,” she said.
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