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