Selling Cars

Keep your chest out and your chin up.

When I sold cars the Trade Center went down and I remember watching the end of a great Super Bowl on a dealership waiting room TV with cock-eyed rabbit ears. Patriots slapping the Rams at the very last minute in a huge upset or something like that.

On the car lot I was what they called a “liner”. One who approached and lined up the customers for the higher paid and more experienced “closer” to come and grind out whatever agreement they could so then the better dressed and shinier teethed “desk managers” could finally approve said deal and we all got paid.

Worked that job for a year selling new and used cars, literally outrunning older guys to bum-rush any living thing that crept into those shark waters, it’s where I learned how to tie a tie 3 different ways and shine my shoes until I could see the future reflecting back at me.

Admittedly, I had a great time, car guys are some perverted and passionate people, a rowdy and joking group of people I could completely relate with. Like ninjas of disguise, ready with social weaponry suited for any occasion or company, crass or class whipped out like blades and masks in front of those who needed persuading. Many of these guys had wiring connected by the black tape of gambling, drugs and alcohol. Any other dangerous compulsion could be quickly spliced into their schedule as to complete their crazy circuit.

Very sensory oriented group of fellas I used to work with. They loved the rush of selling, the intense anticipation, how the possibilities were endlessly unpredictable when it comes to selling big-ticket items and how you can never really judge anyone. Someone could arrive on the lot in a broken-down Ford Escort and wind up buying a Lincoln. And someone getting out of a Humvee will run your smiling ass around all day, driving this and that and when you’ve finally pulled out the tenth car out for Mr. Rockefeller and his fancy shoes, he splits with a “thanks a lot, I’m going to go home and think about it.” Car guys call that a “jack”. They call that “brain damage.”

During my stint as a car guy I:

Learned when to say the exact right word and when to keep my mouth achingly shut.
Learned how to drive any kind of car anytime, anywhere.
Learned that selling is really just helping people find what they want.
Learned a little about how to use cocaine. Off a woman’s back. On a desk. In her office.                                                                                                                                   Learned that vices can make great, towering earners into hunkered down, burned-out robots. 
Learned that people who sell cars are some of the most entertaining group of people to ever gather on a slab of asphalt.
(The same group may also not even blink when they tear your heart out and trade it on the sidewalk if it meant a couple more bucks for a boat trailer or something equally ridiculous.)
Learned to make some of the strongest bonds with a few of those in that group.
Learned what kind of stereo system is required for a 6500 square foot house.
Learned the rush of making a huge hit by earning nearly a thousand bucks for an hour of socializing.                                                                                                  Learned that comptetitive, commissioned sales is X’s and O’s on a chalkboard. It’s war, baby.
Learned that confidence is the answer to every situation.
Learned that the hardest thing to walk away from is money.
Learned that the easiest thing to walk away from is greed.

Had it not been a career instead of a job, I’d have sold cars for a longer time. Had it not been for a few unsavory moments concerning the fleecing of young kids who just wanted a used car but will now be upside down in it a year down the road, then I would have sold cars for a much longer time. Had it not been for that job, I would have never had a desk manager spur my confidence one day by saying “Keep your chest out and your chin up, Reid. And does your grandma know you stole her drapes for that tie you’re wearing?”

I liked that Jack.


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