By Tim Hayes
Fresh out of college, the ink on my bachelor’s degree still wet, just weeks from getting married, I met The Rebel. And a major life lesson got set into motion.
We had a little townhouse about four blocks from the small-town newspaper where I had been hired as a cub reporter, so I walked to and from work every day. Along this well-worn path stood a small-town car dealership.
At the time, I drove a used orange Volkswagen Super Beetle that ran great. Except when it didn’t. Which was fairly often. So twice a day, I walked past a showroom full of bright new Chevys, and a small-town ember began burning in my belly. Car lust in all its rapacious glory.
Eventually, the ember fanned into a full flame. The temptation became too great and I walked into the showroom. Just to look, of course. Not ready to buy, you understand. Window-shopping, was all. Yeah, right.
And that’s when he emerged. The Rebel. Full of gasoline-soaked confidence, this dude parlayed every stereotype you’ve ever felt about Reagan-era car salesmen. The slick hair. The wide, tobacco-stained smile. The slightly askew necktie. The disco suit and black leather shoes. Even the plastic pocket protector for pens and business cards. A real Force of Nature, ready to do anything to help get me into a new car that day.
The Rebel. I mean, the guy even introduced himself that way. “Well, good afternoon, sir! I see you’re interested in a new car today – that’s great! I’m The Rebel. What can we help you with on this fine day?”
And there I stood, my stupid, gullible, 21-year-old self, stammering, quaking, completely and utterly swamped by this smoothie. Before I knew it, we were taking a test drive around town in a tiny compact Chevy, him giving me the grease, convincing me what a great little car this was, how it would make my life so much easier to have a vehicle I could rely on, and shucks, the payments? Why, I wouldn’t even notice them!
Back at the dealer, the paperwork started to flow, I’m signing things I hadn’t read and didn’t understand, until finally the fog began to lift from The Rebel’s onslaught and I tapped the brakes, so to speak, in the proceedings.
“Could I talk to my fiancée about this before we make it official?” I asked, hoping not to hurt The Rebel’s poor feelings. After all, he had been so nice to me all this time.
And for some strange, inexplicable reason, The Rebel agreed.
When I met with my soon-to-be-wife, she – thank heavens – saw this episode for what it truly was. A complete whitewash. A real pro taking advantage of a real schnook. A cat toying with a ball of twine – a bespectacled, bachelor’s-degree-earning ball of twine making next-to-nothing at an entry-level job whom she was about to marry, no less.
The two of us went back to the dealer, and I just let her do all the talking. Within 10 minutes, the paperwork got ripped up, The Rebel let me off the hook with a smile that looked oddly catlike, and my fiancée and I climbed back into the Super Beetle for the three-block ride home. She turned out to be a real Force of Nature, ready to do anything to help keep me out of a new car that day.
And here’s the major life lesson learned. When two Forces of Nature clash, always bet on the woman. Always.
Copyright 2013 Tim Hayes Consulting