Like a middle-aged woman with a J.C. Penny’s catalogue, I gazed in awe at everything on Contemporary Auto’s showroom floor. I coveted every shiny automobile that lay before my eyes. Contemporary Autos was my first stop on Rt. 77, a.k.a. Highway’s Auto Heaven.
I opened the doors of each and every car and slid inside. I inhaled the luscious smell of new leather. Never before had anyone in my family owned a new car.
At only nineteen years-old, this was a major event for me. My hands grazed the steering wheel, fiddled with the radio knobs, reclined the seats and adjusted the mirror.
“Hello, young lady,” an older man with a head full of grey hair and a grey suit to match said. “This one’s a real beauty. We just got her yesterday. She’s got a six-cylinder engine, AC, electric seats, everything you could want. How ‘bout a test drive?”
“No, thank you. I’m just looking,” I answered, politely.
“You go right ahead. My name is, Harry.” He held his hand out and I shook it. “Just let me know if you have any questions.”
“Okay, thanks,” I said, and continued my investigation. The fun part was over. Now I had to look at the sticker on the windshield to see what kind of money one of these beauties would cost.
Yikes, I thought to myself after lookin’ at the price of the car with all the amenities.
Harry came back. “How much are you lookin’ to spend?” he asked.
“Well— not as much as this one costs,” I said. “Maybe about half that— is it possible?”
“Of course it is,” Harry said, and gave me a great, big salesman grin.
He showed me a smaller version of what I’d just looked at. Only this one had no electric windows, no reclining seats, and no A/C. However, it was still very nice.
“How ‘bout a test drive?” Harry asked again.
“No, thanks— really— I’m just lookin’. This is my first time out and I want to see everything that’s out there.”
“Well, in all honesty ma’am, I can tell you right now there’s nothin’ on this highway in your price range as nice as this car.”
“Well, I gotta think about it,” I said.
“What’s to think about?” Harry asked. “Do you like the car?”
“Yeah, it’s nice.”
“It’s in your price range, right?”
“Yeah, pretty much— I guess— but I really need a car with A/C.”
“If you take it today, I think that can be arranged,” Harry said, turning the heat up on his sales-pitch, which caused me to sweat. “Come on, let’s take it out for a test drive,” he insisted.
“Well, I can’t, I don’t know how to drive a five-speed car.”
“Oh, that’s no problem, I can drive,” Harry said. “You’ll still get a good feel for the car.”
This guy doesn’t quit, I thought.
“Yeah— but— how would I get it home?” I asked as he entrenched me in his clutches.
“Don’t worry,” he said. “We can do the paperwork here and you can call someone pick it up for you later.”
Harry started to get on my nerves. But every time I walked away he followed me. He finally convinced me to take a test drive.
I had to admit, the seats were comfortable and the stereo sounded great. The car even hugged the road when we made turns, without having to wait for the front-end to catch up with the back-end like my current car.
Suddenly, I was seated at Harry’s desk signing my name on the dotted line. I still insisted I needed to see other cars, but Harry assured me I didn’t.
My heart’s desire to buy a new car came true. Harry made me buy the Hyundai, even though I didn’t know if I really I wanted it. To make things worse, I eventually discovered the Hyundai I’d bought was a four-door, tin can on wheels that cost me more to fix over the next few years than it cost to purchase.
Years later when I made my second, new car purchase. I made sure to take the entire family along with me. I didn’t go back to Harry either.
When the salesman insisted I go for a test drive, my two-year old son projectile-vomited on his shoes. I was glad I brought him. He made it much easier to escape the clenching-grip of car salesman.
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