A car salesman is an epitome of sleazy and untruthfulness in the eyes of many and Jim was no exception for he lived two lives…
“Good morning ma’am. Your presence has brightened up my day,” said Jim as he approached a single mother with her two children. “How may I serve your family today?”
The mother was caught a little off guard. Jim had a way of catching people’s attention. I suppose it can be attributed to his calm demeanor, gentle smiles, and a dialect uncommon to the area. He came off as a gentleman from an older generation, yet his facade appeared as if he was in his mid to late thirties. It took the mother a little while to shake off her initial reaction.
“I am looking for a family car. I am low on budget and cannot afford an expensive car. Gasoline prices have skyrocketed. I am looking for a car with high fuel economy. When I am not driving to and from work, I am driving around doing errands, picking up the kids, or taking them to their different activities.” Jim looked at her with such an interest and sympathy that she paused and took a deep breath. It seemed as if she was not used to someone listening to her anymore. With all the responsibilities on her plate, she was used to living life for her children that she had forgotten how someone paying attention to her felt. “Umm. Could you provide me with a recommendation?”
Jim put his right hand on his heart and slightly put his head down. He was well aware of how the different messages body signals conveyed. He purposefully put his right hand on his heart to show sympathy to his new client and to send a subconscious message to her about his promise to serve her right. His head down signaled respect. He started looking down and right, and humming to show he was deep in thought and memory recollection. The mother slowly started to feel he was looking out for her best intentions.
Jim’s first life is as a salesman. He was in that business because it allowed him to use his personal and business skills in a way that would maximize his revenues. I almost forgot to mention he was the highest ranked salesman in electric vehicle sales in the southern region. Yet, he never advertised it in his dealership. The front of his lot was filled with low priced, used gas cars. His backlot was filled with new electric vehicles. Jim was so effective at electric vehicle sales with his strategy.
“There are plenty of used cars here with pretty decent gas mileage. You could probably get one of those. You will get a low monthly payment. The gas will be a little expensive.”
“You mentioned you drive a lot. It will be around the same I suspect.”
“That won’t do. I am having trouble paying gas as it is and with a monthly car payment it will make my financial situation more difficult than it already is!”
He extended his hand over her shoulder without touching her. He gave her a nonverbal cue inquiring whether it was okay for him to put his hand on her shoulder. When she acknowledged with a nod, he put his hand on her shoulder lightly.
“I will make sure you leave here with a monthly car payment and gas payment that will work for you. Let me see.” He hummed, put his hand under his chin and started to massage his chin. “I just got a new electric vehicle yesterday. I took it for a test drive and it drives beautifully. It has nice seats for the children. It came with a mounted bike rack. It has a good size trunk since there is no transmission. Somebody cut me off as I test drove it and was impressed with how quickly the brakes worked. Gotta keep the family safe you know.”
“I don’t know. I know little about these cars. Aren’t they expensive?”
“They are not as expensive as people think. You will get a government and state rebate when you buy. If you lease, we give you the rebate up front. That’s free money. You never have to pay for gas. You would usually get this card for free charging for one hour a day up to two years. I will give you the special card that will give you free charging with no limits while you own the car.”
“Why thank you. Not worrying about gas will help. But… but… but what about the monthly payment?”
“How is this? We will set you up with a loan that matches your gas bill. You are probably paying at least $150 per month in gas. We can give you a nice lease as low as $150 per month. You will never have to worry about a gas payment. You can charge the car for free while you are shopping. Most shopping centers have a charging station that accepts the charge card. You will have a brand new, safe car to drive your family around. How does that sound to you?”
She thought about it hard. As she looked at her kids and the faded green clunker she parked around the corner because she was embarrassed about having a car where she needed a screwdriver to start the ignition, the interior seats had house pillows as seat cushions and a trunk that never closed shut. When she looked back at Jim, her heart started to melt when she saw his sympathetic eyes that seemed to give her a warm hug letting her know that everything would be all right. She hugged him and agreed to look at lease terms.
“Your family will be happy with this car.” He pulled out a white card and started to hand it to her. Before she grabbed it, he quickly took it away. “I am so sorry. I was about to give you the regular charge card. You deserve the best card.” Jim pretended to look for the special charge card and eventually found it. He handed her a bright red card with a gold trim. “You deserve this special card. Look at other people charging and I bet you will find it hard to find another driver with this card. But when you do find one, wave and say hello.”
He signaled with his hand for the entire family to enter the lobby where he would sit her down with the finance person and give the children popcorn, boxes of chocolate milk and candies, and serve the mother a latte with a chocolate croissant. As the family walked in with excitement, the sun hit gold trim of the red card and shone so beautifully as the family entered the lobby.
* * *
Aida had just finished putting the children to bed. Exhausted from a long day of leasing a new car, having a small celebration dinner, bathing the kids and getting them ready for a new day she wanted to unwind and watch some television. Right as she picked up the remote control a sudden weight came upon her. She remembered the charge card.
“One more thing to do,” Aida thought with dread. She started to fill with angst but quickly pulled her focus. “If I don’t take care of this now, tomorrow will be more stressful because I don’t know where to charge the car.”
She picked up the folder containing all the lease paperwork and the charge card. As she opened it, she saw a cream color envelope sealed with a red wax imprint of a smiley face. She was caught by surprise yet warmly touched. Have you ever walked into your room to find a gift-wrapped box waiting for you in your bed and wonder how it got there but filled with anticipation for what was inside? I suppose this is how Aida felt about that envelope.
“Madam, it was an honor to meet you today. Your family’s presence brightened my day. I sure hope your new vehicle enriched your and your family’s life. If there is anything you need, below you will find my personal cell phone. Call me any time, any day and I will gladly be of service. Respectfully, Jim.”
Aida put the note down on the table. On some level, she appreciated the thank-you card but on another, she thought it was likely the same card sent to every customer.
She picked up the red charge card and the instructions printed on a yellow paper with a red and gold trim. The instructions directed her to a website. Here she created her account yet she encountered an error soon thereafter. Unable to get past the error her stress levels quickly began to rise especially when all she wanted was to get a good night of sleep before a long day of errands.
Nearly half hour passed before she was ready to throw her laptop across the room. In her aggravation, she smacked the table and hit the folder. Jim’s thank you card fell on the floor with the message facing up. The sentence “Call me any time, any day and I will gladly be of service” became vivid in her eyes as if it were becoming more bold, bigger in font and highlighted with a bright color.
“Let’s test whether he was true to his word,” she said to herself. Her skepticism was especially high now, partly due to her frustration, but mainly because it was past the hour where most individuals would consider a decent hour. “He did say any time and I need this card working before tomorrow,” she rationalized to allow herself to pick up the phone.
Several rings were heard. Right when she was about to doubt whether he would answer the call was picked up.
“This is Jim speaking." A loud and drawn out yawn followed. "How may I be of service?"
"I’m sorry to bother you Mr. Jim at such a late hour. I’m not sure you remember me. My name is Aida and I just purchased an..."
Jim quickly interjected. "How could I forget you and your wonderful family? Is something wrong with the vehicle? I never sell a lemon."
"Ohh no." She paused awkwardly. She continued with a hint of nervousness in her voice, "Uhmm... I am having trouble activating the charge card you gave me. I know I should not have waited until this late in the day to set it up. It’s just that I was trying to follow the directions and the registration website keeps giving me errors. Normally I would wait until tomorrow to get it fixed but I have a full schedule tomorrow and I need the charge card working so I can charge the car."
"It saddens my heart to hear it was not as easy as turning on a light switch. Let’s give a few things a try. I will not hang up this phone until your card is working correctly."
They spent about half an hour trying to get around the error. Aida’s frustration was growing and her patience was wearing thin. Jim was doing his best to stay calm and in good demeanor but it was becoming noticeable he was becoming weary and sleepy.
"It seems this website is extremely stubborn," Jim said as their latest attempt failed as well. "We are both getting extremely tired and we both have long days ahead of us. Might I suggest something a little unorthodox?"
Aida became tense and cautious. "What are you suggesting?"
"I have special access to the system as a dealer. I can reconfigure your account. It would be like you calling customer support but without the long wait times on the phone and the rudeness of the representatives."
"What’s so unorthodox about that?" asked Aide with confusion.
"It would require me to enter my username and password and then enter your username and password to access your account. Would you be comfortable with that? You can change your password immediately after we get your card working. And you don’t have to enter any billing information since you are not paying for charging. Would you be comfortable with that? If not, I will stay on the call with you while we wait for customer support."
Aida looked at the clock and realized how little sleep she would be getting if she stayed up to work with customer support. She rationalized in her mind it was safe. She used a unique password when first prompted to create the username and password. She would not be giving any financial information. Plus, she could change the password immediately. What would be the harm?
"Let’s get this done."
Within a few minutes, the account situation was resolved.
"I apologize for not offering this solution at the beginning. Setting up your card should have never resulted in me having to use this solution. Is there anything else I can be of assistance?"
"Thank you. I’m sorry to keep you up late. Have a good night. I hope the next time we speak it is under better circumstances."
"Serving you is a grand pleasure. You can call me anytime. I wish you a good night’s rest. Please change your password right away."
As Aida sighed and dragged herself to bed, Jim, however, had a sly grin on his face.
TO BE CONTINUED...