If the car business were a news show like “60 Minutes”, my part would be tacked onto the end, the Car Man’s Andy Rooney. I can imagine it now, three solid stories about the business: the first one about the growing problem with failing Ford dealerships. The second piece about the rising costs of demos for dealer’s girlfriends. And the last story about the National Detailers Association “Clean Off” held each 4th of July in Forth Worth, Texas.
Then, at the end of a brief commercial break and the ticking of the stop watch, me.
“And now a few minutes with David Teves,” the announcer would intone.
Cut to David Teves dressed in a gray suit, white shirt and tie and a Giants baseball cap sitting behind a large desk piled high with old credit apps and In and Out burger wrappers. I would begin with a wry smile and a smart ass attitude that befits my personality.
“I was hanging around my local Chevy store the other day,” I begin. “Why exactly, I don’t know. It’s a little like going to a dentist’s office just to check out the latest magazines in the waiting room. While examining the new Chevy Malibu which I’ve never seen outside a showroom except at an Enterprise Rental Car agency, I heard a salesman talking about getting a “floor pop”.”
“Damn, I need a floor pop,” he said, his voice dripping with desperation.
“I wondered, what exactly is a floor pop and why does he need one so badly? If you hang around with Car Men long enough you’ll discover they speak a second language, known only to them, which is harder to decipherer than Esperanto.”
“Bill had a lay down last night,” another guy mentioned. “A total grape. Big down stroke and gold balls. Why can’t that happen to me?”
“This went on for quite a while with me only understanding about every fifth word. There was a brief discussion about flakes and credit criminals. For some reason the guys harbored resentment for real estate brokers and firemen. And when a Chinese gentleman opened the showroom door everybody suddenly had to go the bathroom. The Chinese gentleman asked me what my last price was. When I drolly answered $4.99, he said it was too much money and left.”
“After the coast was clear the F&I man came out to the showroom. What exactly is an F&I man anyway? From listening to the guys later, I assume it’s an acronym for “fool and incompetent”. The F&I man went into a tirade about “missing stips”, unsigned credit apps and “if you expect me to lay off the back half, you’ve got to get me all the ammunition—and leave room for a warranty.”
“And what’s all this stuff about “getting a bump”? Is it about avoiding damage while driving around the lot, or some kind of skin condition? If you get a bump do you need medication? I suppose it depends on how big the bump is.”
“A visit to the sales manager’ office didn’t do anything to clarify the situation. I was quickly informed that unless I had a signed commitment he didn’t want to talk to me. When I tried to explain who I was he said, “Just because you’re old and on TV doesn’t mean you can sandbag me.”
“The whole thing went down hill from there. I wasn’t ready to make a commitment. After all, I’d only just met the guy.”
“By the time I left that place my head was aching more than Bill Clinton’s after an evening with Hillary. No wonder the car business is in so much trouble! In my opinion if car salesmen are to survive they will have to relent and learn to speak English. Or at least English as a second language.”
“And as for the Spanish-speaking guy, you know the one with the pencil thin mustache and the attitude? Leave him alone. The way things are going he might be the only one who will be able to understand the customers.”
Fade to commercial.
Talk to you later,