We slowly sat down at the round table for a Summit Meeting with the Opposition. I kept my shades on. No use letting them see the whites of my eyes. Hubby was perspiring freely, but his turban hid it well.
“Just start with your name,” I whispered to him.
The car dealership manager leaned back in his leather armchair. He held a pen which he clicked over and over, like a ticking time bomb. Only the tightness around his eyes showed the tension that his large smile was attempting to dissipate.
We had been slowly wearing down our target over the last couple of weeks.
We settled on this car quickly and then once in a while we’d go over and ask to test drive it. Then we’d slowly circle the car, attempting to find defects. Sometimes we’d open every single door and inspect hinges. We used a penny to check the tire treads. We sat in all the seats then asked if there were more. Then we made phone calls at non-business hours on his private cell phone (hey, he gave it to us) and asked more questions. We made low offers that he laughed at.
And then countered the next day.
You can’t just go in and buy a car. You have to feint and then retreat. There’s reconnaissance patrols and shock tactics. And when all else fails, you pull a ‘Panama’. Don’t ask.
You don’t smell victory until the salesman is willing to lower his price enough to get rid of you.
“Will you be financing or paying cash?”
The manager had a few tactics of his own to maneuver with.
He sent someone out to bring our car to the front. Forty minutes passed, and as we signed the last of the treaties, the someone returned, nervously wringing his hands and bowing frequently to the manager, the buyers, and the doors.
“What is it Z?” asked the manager.
“Oh sir, I am so sorry, I am so embarrassed,” the minion began, “but we cannot seem to locate the vehicle. We searched all of the neighboring car lots. It’s vanished sir!”
Everyone in the room paused for a beat. And then all of the negotiations were reopened.
The manager stood up. “It’s not possible!”
Hubby stood up. “What in the world is this nonsense?!”
Manager: “Sir, could I interest you in this car over here? It’s a better car, and it’s red. Same price!”
Hubby: “Absolutely not! We were very clear in opening arguments that red is unacceptable!”
Manager: “Yes sir, yes sir. However, we have scouts searching all corners of the globe as we speak. You must have patience!”
Hubby: “What kind of people sell you something and then it just vanishes into thin air? It wasn’t even the perfect car. We wanted one with a roof rack! We drove all this way and now we are entirely deceived!”
The minion returned but stayed well out of the manager’s reach. “Sirs,” he said, “the car has been found. One of our other managers decided to drive it home for the weekend and will not be returning it tonight.”
Then he fled the scene.
The manager was pacing. Hubby stood with fists on the desktop. I sat watching with steely calm.
“There!” the manager cried, “The vehicle is located. I’ll tell you what! We shall bring it in, detail it for you, install a roof rack, and deliver it to your home. I would not dream of asking you to drive here twice for our mistake! If you do not accept the vehicle delivery, I will personally shred all documentation, and you are under no obligation whatsoever!”
Foreboding sat thick in the room like haze. I could see both parties were mentally circling, looking for the loopholes, the treachery, the possibility of an ambush in the parking lot.
Finally, Hubby agreed to the terms offered. We drove home in silence and waited for zero hour to arrive.
It was a tight call whether we would achieve triumph or forfeit all attempts at diplomacy.
Either way, someone somewhere was going to lose his job…or his head.