Happy Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year
Photo by Fortune, c. 2012

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Back on the Bus Again

Truth be told, I am still a Metro Girl. Maybe I haven’t been gone on my car ownership adventure as long as I imagined, but a few things have changed on the OKC Metro Transit System in my absence. For one thing there are more buses, new ones! I could never understand why a city spread further and wider than Los Angeles, located in the country's very center, has such a lousy local bus system. Old, smelly buses rattle and grind and cough their way out of a optimistically modern downtown terminal, complete with neighborhood art in primary colors. It just didn’t make sense. A taxi driver once told me that the gas and oil power players preferred it that way; it kept folks buying gas. I'm happy to see them come around. Maybe soon you’ll be able to catch a bus after 7:00 p.m. in this camp.

Happy Bob was on the bus this morning, his face brightened with a big hello. He always, always leaves the bus with a grand “Jesus loves you! Don’t forget!” and addresses people by name. To his proclamation this morning he added, “You gotta keep growing! You can’t stay the same!” A gratifying message from an 82-year-old fellow bus rider. Like a wood puppet, Bob has a seemingly unattached lower jaw that works independent of the rest of his face; he walks as if marching, his legs attached to stings held by a puppet master. When he smiles his eyes squint giving a glimpse of the child he was decades ago. But it’s his face after the smile that most intrigues me, after the grand proclamations of divine love when it pulls back into itself and his jowls slacken with life’s weight. This is not a conversation we have had.

A heavily accented man asked it I could help him correct the time on his watch. He had been struggling since last night. Not to be outdone by a watch, I took up his struggle and ten minutes later we had it figured out. Abraham is from Eritrea, his thin body and delicate face carry such sadness. With gestures of weeping and disgust he explained that his people cannot figure out how America, a predominately Christian country, could have divided Eritrea displacing millions of other Christians, those who are the protectors of the Arch of the Covenant. I have no answer for him. He thanked me for healing his watch.

The Senator Mechanic just called me. We’ll meet up later so he can assess Spunky’s situation. I was going to donate her to the public radio station. “Hey, hold on,” he said, “why don’t you sell it to a metal salvage place! Get yourself some money. Ask for five and take three-fifty.”

Ah, just like a true car salesman. Sounds like a plan. To the #13 and on to The Lot.


Friday, October 30, 2009

Trick or Treat Y'all

I confess, I am a reluctant car owner. But a year on The Lot and I have grown to appreciate fine cars - their excellent construction, the power and performance, beautiful design, fuel economy, and prefer no less than a 6 cylinder...yada, yada. I drool over a hot muscle car with the most macho of guys. For days I was intoxicated after test driving a Porsche Boxter on a warm summer night down I-240. I get it, I really get it.

But the thing is this: the issue I have with owning cars is the same one I have with house cleaning. I consider both necessary irritations. What I find irksome is that there's always something that needs to be done and it always costs money and time. For instance, if I could wash the dishes, sweep and mop the floors, do the laundry, fold all my clothes and tuck them neatly away, clean the bathroom, ad nauseum, and not have to do it for another year or two, that would be fine. But you and I know that is not the case and so it is with cars. Maintenance is everything.

This summer The Guys bullied me into buying a car. "If you don't buy it, I will and you are gonna be mad as hell when it's winter and cold and nasty and you're on the bus for another year and I'm buzzing around in your face at 30 miles to the gallon!" threatened Coop. Good point, my man, good point.

After a day or two of harassment, I folded and plunked down $150 - anyone else would have paid $500 - for a little 95 Kia Sephia. I was willing to change my negligent ways and make the effort to take good care of Spunky Red. Timely oil changes, sturdy tires, visits to The Senator Mechanic for her regular check-ups were all at the top of my list. I overlooked her cosmetic issues, among them her off-colored hood that never quite closes and her chicken wire designer grill, a status feature of quite a number of cars here in Oklahoma. She's not much to look at but she's got soul, and she's super bad or was...

And here is where the story gets sad. Food runs are a central part of life on The Lot. 'You fly, I buy' is the call. Whoever goes for the food gets treated to a meal. The decision on what cafe is a negotiation that can take hours. This ritual is part of the car salesmen bonding. I don't partake very often but last night I did. Into Spunk I jumped and off to the Micky D's. Sadly, on the way back I was hit by some jerk who didn't have the common courtesy to stick around. Yep, I was the victim of a hit-and-run. Bummer! So, Spunky Red sits in a parking lot around the corner from work with her front drivers section bent up and a mess, totaled.

After having made such a gallant effort to be a responsible car owner, I am crestfallen. See what it got me? Of course, all The Guys suggested that they could get me into another car for a really good price..wink, wink. Right, we'll just see about that. I wasn't deposited on The Lot just yesterday.

Trick or Treat Y'all,

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mr. B and the Titan

Mr. B, a small Asian man all of about 5 foot 3, pulled onto The Lot today. Dressed in a casual jacket with a tie and fine tasseled loafers, I marveled as he slid down out of a big-ass, gleaming white 08 Nissan Titan truck. I was soon to learn that he paid $25,000 for it last year and wanted to trade it in, or so he said.

After an hour of test driving a couple of possible trades, it became obvious he was mostly interested in selling us his truck for $17 - $19,000 and if he could get a Honda, a Toyota, or a Hyundai - one of the Holy Trinity of Economy Cars - for about $5-$10,000 to replace it that would be good, too. You know, he could then put a little cash in his pocket. A car, he said, that could be given to his 19 year old son so that he could take back his Mercedes the boy is currently driving.

I had one simple question for Mr. B: Do you really think this is going to work?

His answer was a feeble smile. Yeah right, that's what I thought, too. I gave him a gracious handshake, a promise to keep an "eye-out" for a car that he might like and sent him on his way.

So wrong on so many levels.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Little Homework Helps

It’s been deadly slow on The Lot this week and we are all stare-crazy and a bit anxious. It’s the time of the year when car salesmen start “disappearing” for lack of work. Nonetheless, with winter just around the corner, it’s good time to talk about what one needs to do before buying a car.

Before you even step onto a car lot, you should have a pretty good idea about what kind of car you want and what you can afford to spend. A surprising number of people have no idea of either, which I'll talk about in another post. Car salesmen are taught to ask a series of questions to help define your needs and work through your defenses or objections. It can be an interesting little cat and mouse dance. The salesman is not necessarily trying to sell you the most expensive car but the one he’ll make the most money on. In car salesmen vernacular, he wants to “take your head off.” Sorry...just one of those odd car salesmen terms. In any case, the more you know about the car you want to buy, the better position you will be in to negotiate the best deal and the more fun you can have in the process.

So, Lesson # 1: do your homework.

Spend time on-line, talk to family members and friends. Even complete strangers will have information for you. Determine what car you need rather than the car you want. Often they are not the same. For instance, if you have two kids and one on the way, you might consider an SUV rather than that sporty two-seater that makes your heart sing. Granted, it may be the last car you’ll be able to afford until they leave out into the world when with great self-sacrifice you can relinquish that much beloved buggy to the last kid. Then without a moments hesitation run and get the car you really want and, by this time, you'll greatly deserve it. Or if you’re finally buying your 16 year-old son his first car that you've been promising him since he was three and he’s jonesing for a truck, get him a single cab model with about 60,000 miles on it. You know, something he can safely hone his driving skills with. Plus, the less room he has to stuff his buddies in the better. And don’t even think about it being red!

In all fairness to all the honest, hard-working car salesmen – and they do exist, I promise – the more information you can provide the better they are able to find the car that will serve your needs and in the least amount of time. Besides, who wants to schlep up and down a car lot all day?



Monday, October 19, 2009

A New Love

I'm on a blogging honeymoon! It's all I want to do! I've got to get a grip! I have burned my morning cereal to a inedible crisp! Got to get the cats in and The Lot calls!!!

More later,

Sunday, October 18, 2009

So, You Sell Cars?

You might find it curious that I sell cars. But trust me, no more curious than I find it. If someone had told me two years ago that I would be living in Oklahoma City and selling cars, the only woman with a bunch of guys, I would have backed away very, very slowly and run screaming in the other direction.

But The Divine has a funny sense of humor or, at the very least, a very colorful sense of the absurd and so here I am living in Oklahoma City, selling cars. I've decided it's some odd right of passage for living here. In Santa Fe, where I lived before OKC, there's a shaman, astrologer or a masseuses on alternating corner; here it's a church, a liquor store and a car dealership.

...Power struggles with your father, men and authority figures are likely in the months ahead—they can teach you something about yourself, even if they are mistaken about your situation...

Skywatch Publications

08 Overview if born Sept, 21-27

What?! Power struggles with male authority figures? Men "mistaken about my situation" teaching me about myself? When I read this a year ago I was completely mystified and bummed at the prospect that it might be even a little bit true. This did not sound like a good time by any stretch of the imagination. But with a year on The Lot under my belt, it is all perfectly clear. It just never in a million years occurred to me that the writer of this insightful message could have possibly meant a bunch of car salesmen. But it's been real and worth the wild learning curve.W

The car business is it's own peculiar culture and everything you have heard is true. But there is so much more. In coming posts I will share with you what I've learned about the car business, what you need to know about buying a car, especially if you are a woman, and other quirky observations. I promise to keep it clean and, for legal reasons, I will change the names...to protect the guilty and the innocent! I can just hear the sighs of relief.



Sooners: 13 Longhorns: 16....oh well.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

One for the Home Team

Another day on The Lot but it’s not just any day. It’s the Oklahoma -Texas game! A day that will go down in history – if the Sooners wins. And if they fall to the Longhorns? Well, it’ll be tears all around. I shudder to think. Not that any of this matters so much to me but it does allow for a little time free of the guys because they are all crowded in the gm’s office watching the game. And if it weren’t for the fact that every man in town is also glued to the tube, I might actually sell a car without tripping over one of the other salesman. I hear clapping and screaming. We have a first down!! Wooppee!!


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I Give, I Blog, I Write

Friends have for months suggested that I begin a blog, an idea that I have met with some trepidation...until today when I finished reading Jennifer Weiner's inspired book of short stories The Guy Not Taken. In the end interview, Weiner expressed that if one is serious about writing, short of becoming a journalist, blogging is a great thing to do to get your writing chops up. I'm serious about writing but the likelihood of my becoming a journalist is nil and so I give - I now blog.

I look forward to sharing this journey with all who care to join me.