27: More than a Good Deal

27: More than a Good Deal

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just Us Girls

More than a Good Deal

Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.

~Edwin Hubbel Chapin

Six men and one woman stood ready to pounce on me inside the dealership showroom. I was alone in unfamiliar territory; I’d never purchased a new car before.

A middle-aged man briskly approached me with his hand out. “Hello there,” he said. “See anything you’d like to take out for a test drive?”

I smiled politely and extracted my hand from his. “Nice to meet you, but I’m already dealing with that woman over there.” I pointed.

He raised his eyebrows, shrugged, but said nothing. I walked toward the woman and quickly read her nametag. “Lisa!” I said, a little louder than necessary. “I’m ready to buy that car now.”

She smiled and nodded, then led the way to a back office. Once inside, she gestured for me to sit down and closed the door.

“It’s kind of tough for a single woman to walk into a shark tank like our showroom, isn’t it?” she asked. She took a seat across the desk from me.

I nodded. “Thanks for not laughing or pointing to my trembling knees.”

Lisa’s smile broadened. “No problem. Glad I could save you from the feeding frenzy.”

She waited while I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “I really am in the market for a car,” I began. “I’ve just never negotiated a deal myself, and I’m a bit nervous about the whole thing.”

Again, she waited silently.

“So do you think you can help me find what I’m looking for?”

“What color?” she asked.

I laughed. “Not the make, the model, or the mileage first?”

“Oh, that stuff’s the easy part,” replied Lisa. “But in my experience, a woman is more inclined to want to match the car color to her personality before worrying about how many cylinders the engine has.”

“Red,” I answered. “But not the fire engine bright garish red. More like the hot metallic cranberry color on those Accords out there.”

“That’s the spirit!” said Lisa. She got out her pencil and started making notes. “Once we get a general list made, I’ll use the computer to see what I can find at other dealerships and make a swap if we don’t have exactly what you’re looking for on our own lot.”

I appreciated the way she thought, and the way I felt no pressure whatsoever.

My list was soon complete, and Lisa grabbed the detachable dealership license plates from the main office, along with the keys to several different models. We went out the showroom door, laughing like old friends.

“Let’s do lunch!” she suggested as soon as I maneuvered the first car out of the parking lot.

“Lunch?” I queried.

“It’s after one, and I’m famished.”

“Okay…” I hesitated.

“Don’t worry, I won’t ply you with drinks, and you’ll have to buy your own meal. Cars haven’t been selling all that well this month.”

I fell in love with the way the very first vehicle I drove handled, so after a delightful time at lunch, we returned to the dealership to crunch the numbers.

Lisa quickly located a car close to what I wanted at a dealership 300 miles away. “No extra charge for delivery,” she happily told me.

“Why isn’t it exactly what I want?” I asked cautiously.

“It’s got pinstripes and a wing on the back. Very classy,” she added.

“Pinstripes don’t make the car run any better, and the wing is worthless.”

“No, actually the wing adds about $500 to the cost of the car,” Lisa replied with a straight face.

“It’s worthless because it doesn’t enhance the mileage or anything,” I explained.

She did another quick computer search, but came up empty.

“How much will you take off the price of the car if I agree to take it with the pinstripes and the wing still on it?” I asked, not even trying to mask the twinkle in my eyes.

“Excuse me a minute,” she said, closing the door behind her when she left.

When she returned, Lisa was all smiles. “I told my boss he’d either have to take the wing and the pinstripes off, or give you a discount for leaving them on. I explained to him that you were a tough negotiator and he told me he didn’t want to pay the labor to have them removed so he’d throw them in at no charge.”

I immediately jumped to my feet and hugged her. “It’s a deal!”

“It’s a first!” she replied, laughing. “People aren’t usually so exuberant when they sign a new car contract.”

“And I’ll bet they don’t usually invite you to a summer picnic, either,” I replied. “But I’ve got a bunch of friends getting together this weekend for a weenie roast on the beach, and I’d love to introduce you to them.”

Lisa and I became steadfast friends. “You know,” she once told me, “I was about to start looking for other employment when you bought your car from me.”

As it turns out, it’s a good thing Lisa kept that job. One day a short while later, the man of her dreams walked into the dealership. He walked out with a new car and a date with Lisa. They got engaged a few months later, and were married in Hawaii. I was invited to the wedding as a “very special guest.”

“I might not ever have met him if I hadn’t kept selling cars,” Lisa told me after the ceremony. “So in a way, I’m living happily ever after because of you.”

I rather doubt the total validity of her statement, but my life too is far richer for having met her. Our friendship, like the car I bought, is still going strong.

~Jan Bono

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