Part of the planning that went into moving into a travel trailer involved a choice of vehicles. Being a borderline gear-head, that excited me. Not a lot mind, because that’d mean dealing with car salesmen but still… Our current set of wheels is not much longer for this world, thanks to San Francisco traffic and drivers who can’t park without hitting other cars, and hard. I’d been going back and forth between a car or a truck, maybe even an SUV.
At one point I had a kind of epiphany and figured a small station wagon would do us fine, and it would be a good vehicle for Rudha-an to practice driving again. I looked at second generation Saturn wagons because of price, availability, reliability, size and cargo capacity as well as fuel economy. I figured I needed something that could get up to 35 miles per gallon on the highway to keep expenses down. Quickly enough, I found one on Craigslist, on a dealer’s lot in Fremont and so, hi-ho on the way we went.
The dealer’s lot was pretty cramped, shared with other small businesses, one of which being a fortune teller. The shack’s door was locked, so we parked in a tight spot to have a look at the inventory, mostly Subarus and the odd Volkswagen. Pretty suddenly, a car pulled up behind ours and a guy dressed like an unsuccessful rapper got out, sizing us up. We stared glassy-eyed at each other like dead pigs, then like a non-sequitur he told us the dealer would be back in ten minutes.
We didn’t see the Saturn on the lot or parked at the curb and I started feeling relieved. That ended when the dealer showed up, all dressed up in navy blue: pants, shirt and the tee-shirt he’d pulled over it. He also had on a kind of wide brimmed straw hat. The tee-shirt had holes, there was one of those bluetooth things in the guy’s ear and he never took off his sunglasses.
He kept switching between talking to us and talking to someone on his phone, which confused the hell out of me since he never pulled out his phone and the thing must have been on vibrate. I never heard a ring.
He still had the car for sale and it was located at a friend’s shop. Then he asked if it was okay to drive there in our car.
He wasn’t batting a thousand, for sure. Once on the way, he had another surprise. Would it be okay to swing by the Jeep dealership to pick up his mechanic?
All right… We’d gone this far. The mechanic was waiting at the curb outside the Jeep dealer’s. Best way to put it, he was one of those Western types, like Stumpy from “Rio Bravo” or Cletus from “Gunsmoke”.
Except he wasn’t plucky and he had no wisecracks. Alcoholic and potentially suicidal, more like…
We got to where the Saturn was parked, everyone loaded in and off we went on the test drive. On the freeway, the car vibrated a bit much under load, it was dirty and had a crack in the windshield. Nothing that couldn’t be fixed, but the stink of desperation coming from the back seat was now beginning to grate on my nerves. Back to the lot, I told the salesman I had other cars to check out before I committed. He said he had to get this car sold because as it turned out, his”friend” was breathing down his neck about the space it was hogging, so he dropped the sales price by a couple hundred, but I still wouldn’t budge.
On the way back to his shack, he realized he left his dealer plates on the Saturn, turned to Cletus and told him “well you know, that’s why I take you along on these jobs, so I don’t have to remember everything…” I wondered long these two had been unhappily married, but instead drove them back to the car. Dealer got out, and took off in the Saturn without another word. Okidokie artichokie….
Driving through the heavier mid-afternoon traffic, I had to crane my neck to check on Cletus who’d sunk even lower in the back seat, gazing out the window, probably wondering what it’d be like to jump out into traffic at 45 mph. He reminded me of Marvin the paranoid android from “the hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy” and he definitely would have worn a red shirt on Star Trek… As to the not-so-slick sales guy, I politely let him know I’d pass on his offering, like a broccoli-caulifower fart. And that, is how you lose a sale…