Crazy B*tch (Memoirs of a Lemon Lover in Recovery)
Happy Hump Day!
Being someone who never really ‘got’ the whole point of haggling, today’s excerpt satirically explores the art of negotiation from each of the extreme ends of the spectrum. Chapter 11 is dedicated to those master negotiators out there–bless you for whatever it is that you do. 😉
Chapter 11—Swamp Land in Florida, Wooden Nickels, and Used Cars…
Hoping to sell Ol’Bruiser, while hoping to buy a newer version of her, was akin to poking the mighty bear known as Karma. My dad did not see things quite the same way. To him, we were offering any potential buyer with a smokin’ good deal. Conversely, any used car we deigned to look at (provided it was the import of his obsession and a standard transmission) was the 10 carat diamond in the not-so-rough rough. He was confident that he could fix anything, and after Ol’Bruiser, he had proven he could also repaint anything.
Perhaps I was hoping for too much, but I really wanted a car that was one solid colour, and in such a fine state of repair that it could start and stay started despite the weather. Despite my dad’s obvious biases, he was offering me a fairly comprehensive list of pros and cons for each vehicle we looked at. My mom warned me before we started car shopping, “Do NOT let your dad test drive it unless you are seriously considering the car. Once he drives it, he will want to take it home.” Her advice was sage, sound, and a little bit desperate. My mom was scared for me—really really scared.
It was not long before I really understood her fear. It was scary out there! There were enthusiasts (or perhaps they were sharks pretending to be enthusiasts—it was hard to tell) who were more delusional than my dad. They would fawn over Ol’Bruiser, as they listened to my dad’s many stories. They would heap the praise on us for our taste in cars, and then show us what seemed like nightmares on wheels. There were cars out there in worse shape than the Ol’Bruiser.
One car was listed as “orange” in the ad. Given the vintage of the car, we did not think for a moment that the colour was odd. Orange was a popular colour of car for that particular import of that particular time. It turns out that the guy selling the car was being creative, or even slightly euphemistic about the colour of the car. This poor car was once white, but had fallen prey to rust so badly that there was very little indication of its original colour. Hence, its colour was now listed as “orange”. Following my mom’s advice, I refused to test drive this “orange” car.
Another car had received some body work prior to its listing. Believe it or not, it was listed as a “Custom Hybrid”. This guy was even more creative than my dad when it came to body work. He spliced the top half of one import with the bottom half our beloved Swedish import. It was all very Frankenstein. My dad’s eyes lit up, the thought of splicing two vehicles together had not occurred to him. You could see the endless possibilities churning around in the stew pot of his consciousness. I was really curious to test drive this car, but this guy’s “custom hybrid” didn’t start and end with this car. He too was something of a “custom hybrid”—a frightening blend of artist and bat-shit crazy madman. I am not sure which I found the scariest, test driving that car with that guy in the car with us, or the many ways this guy might just inspire my dad.
Perhaps it was just the bizarre basis for comparison, but I was starting to feel much less guilty about the prospects of selling Ol’Bruiser to someone. She seemed like a luxury car when compared to some of the stuff I saw. In fact, the “normalish” cars were few and far between. I guess one could argue that this did facilitate a swifter, and more assured decision on my part. After the many different cars we looked at I was starting to ‘lean’ towards this one car.
She had much of what I was looking for. She was one solid colour (baby blue), only somewhat rusted, standard transmission (requiring some repair), five years younger than me, and resplendent in its ability to start and stay running. My dad was ecstatic with it as well. It needed some repair, and some body work! Plus, we could use these things to…haggle!
My dad fancied himself something of a master negotiator. Not unlike driving skills, my dad was determined to impart his negotiating skills to me. So, before I made any kind of offer on this car, we had to, as my dad put it, “strategize our plan of attack”. My dad must have been some kind of football coach in a former life because he had a full size chalk board and everything. He sketched a flurry of X’s and O’s and proceeded to explain to me the vagaries of ‘low-balling’, ‘high-balling’, and ‘bluffing’. My eyes rolled to the back of my head, and my neck snapped back. I was setting up camp in the land of overwhelm. My dad didn’t care, he marched forward and scripted for me exactly how things were going to go down.
I was grateful for the script, and more than a little confused when my dad totally abandoned script. By the time all was said and done, we drove away with an agreement to purchase, at a price that was slightly higher than the listed price, and with the trunk, and back seat filled with winter tires, steel rims, and a vast assortment of parts intended for necessary repairs. I am still a little foggy on the art of haggling as per my dad’s instructions, however, I do know that I only had to pay for the price on as it was described on the “script”. My dad eagerly paid the difference, and then bragged to all who listen, about the “amazing” deal we struck.