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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Avoidable Contact #129: Why, man, he doth bestride the dealership like a Colossus

"When was the last time you saw George?" "Oh, a while back. He was selling Buicks on the east side. Have you seen him since?" "Not since, you know, he got in trouble and had to, ah, go away. It was drugs, you know."
https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/avoidable-contact/avoidable-contact-129-why-man-he-doth-bestri...
37 REPLIES 37
FatBabyDriver
Intermediate Driver

Poignant. I feel the same way about the motorcycle dealership I spent the 90s in.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

Any time you want to tell a couple stories... drop me a note.
fueledbymetal
Advanced Driver

Good read 👍
miata93
Instructor

Jack,
Now I understand why the time that I walked into a Tesla "dealership" I thought that I was in a Disney store. Thanks.
PanEuropean
New Driver

Absolutely superb writing, first class in every way. Awesome.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

Thank you sir, it is an unalloyed joy to see your name above a comment!
Johnny5
Pit Crew

Johnny5 approves this story.

Working for a Porsche store and MUCH is still the same, baby, baby still the same…..
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

I can imagine!
jp182
Pit Crew

Quality writing
ATLpaul
Detailer

I think car business is very different now. Yesterday I paid deposit on a Tacoma TRD sport 4x4 in Atlanta. I had looked on Auto Trader across our vast land for a blue crush TRD sport. There is none in stock anywhere and when I saw some that said in transit and called some place in Minnesota or Virginia they said it was already pre-sold. They also said they would only sell to people in their own zip code because of limited allocations. I finally traded messages and texts with Toyota dealer closest to me. He could order me one in that blue color (actually more like a purple or Blurple). I had to agree to a $2500 market adjustment. I jumped on it. I told him I want to come in and put deposit down instead of trading credit card number in email. He was more than happy to do that.

When I went in this ginormous Toyota dealer in northeast Atlanta, I saw the internet room. A fish bowl of a conference room There were 30 or so very young people in what I consider quarter the size of a IT cubicle (old days) partitioned each. Both the young sales man and his manager were real happy to deal with a real human instead of just a voice or email. They told me 75% of their sales is through internet. I can see why. There was virtually no stock on that dealership lot, so regulars were mostly just hanging around the showroom.

A very strange world we live in where I was happy to pay $2,500 over sticker for pleasure of waiting 3-4 months for my made in Mexico Tacoma. Salesmen told me they are 100% sure stock issues won't be fixed till 2023 at earliest.

compaqdeskpro
Detailer

You know you are maturing when your views on a manager you disliked come around.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

Kind of depressing, really!
JeffWeimer
Intermediate Driver

There are two things that make me to my spine uncomfortable - going on podium and teaching; and selling cars. Both give me an existential dread. I don't know how you did it, but I recognize it made you the man and writer you are today.
TG
Gearhead

I actually read the whole thing which my ADD usually prevents me from doing
johnu
New Driver

You have not had a "real" job until you're done tenure in a dealership. The world hates your profession. It's up to you to channel Dale Carnegie to survive.
The memories last forever and only your life long friends from that world understand.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

Agreed on all counts. I really didn't know what I was getting into!
woodyambison
Intermediate Driver

True Johnu I've worked at 3 motorcycle dealerships and some of my best/memorable friendships were developed there. Thanks for the reminder.
win59
Advanced Driver

I have worked in Dealerships since 1967. With Rodneys and 'Toines and Georges. Some of my best, life-long friends and most despicable managers. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. The friends are the best and the managers taught me some of the most important lessons of my life.
Oh to be young, and smart, broke, and riding my Kawi' H1 to work again!!

You nailed it, Jack.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

I'm nostalgic about it as well... but I know I can't go back.
wirekat
Intermediate Driver

While I distain the car buying/selling experience, I've met some fine folks along the way. However, I have to warn the salesperson that I have a curse. In six times so far, the salesperson was gone within 2-3 months of my purchase, many of them long tenured. I'd go back for the first service and they'd be gone.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

Hmm... might have to send you to a few people I know! 🙂
danhise
Advanced Driver

Oh man, Jack, you can recreate with the best. I assume that there may be a stretcher or three, but the world you take us to has no improbabilities. You satisfy the Aristotelian prerequisite as nicely as one can. It was a beautiful piece. I thought of my favorite car salesman, Willie Thornton, who has lived long and seen much, and is the most authentic human being I've ever known.

Baruth. Is that from "Bayreuth"?
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

I wish; Baruth is a small hick town in the former East Germany, about 100km south of Berlin, and it's where my great-grandfather lived before coming over around the turn of the century.
hyperv6
Racer

Zzzzzzzzzz!
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

I've had my dealership experiences. I may have forgiven but I will not forget. Would never want to go back to it. You may have seen my post about it in the service article. It's too bad dealers are run by morons and megalomanics.
Steve1957
Intermediate Driver

Jeez, I got a little verkempt at the end there, seriously. What great writing! GREAT!. And there's got to be at least 2 ten episode seasons of an award winning, critically acclaimed HBO miniseries in this article, or maybe a feature length movie, and I'm not kidding. That George character - wow.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

Rodney's personal stories would keep "Showtime After Dark" busy for sure!
Steve1957
Intermediate Driver

I had two law partners 20 years ago. One was a criminally reprobate chiseler, and the other one was an even worse chiseler. The second one wasy buying a pickup truck from a small Chevy dealership not far from our office. The negotiations, what I heard of them, seemed to go on and on. Finally, #2 showed up with an absolute stripper truck, rubber mats, manual transmission, 6 cylinder engine, poverty caps. A real dud, but he was thrilled. I went into the dealership a couple of months later to look at a Corvette he had in the window, and mentioned that Chiseler #2 was my law partner. The galesman's face dropped in horrified awe. He said, "I never thought I'd get that deal done - I've never had to deal with such an a****** before, and it still makes me almost cry when I think about what I indulged with that dope." PTSD wasn't "a thing" yet, but I swear the poor guy had PTSD.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

I used to feel the same way when I'd meet my driving student for the day at a racetrack and he introduced himself as a "physician". If he said "surgeon", I called my son and left him a message telling him I loved him, just in case.
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

Like A Surgeon... Cutting for the very first time. (Weird Al)

 

It was good preparation on your part. 

brb
Instructor

Excellent story!
CAUberAlles
Pit Crew

I presume you had the opportunity to sample the ‘95 Mustang GT during your time at the Ford store. Last hurrah of the slightly rounded-up 5.0L before the ascendency of the Mod Motors forced 0.4L and pushrods to pack up and go home. Objectively terrible cars, particularly by modern standards, but I have a strange nostalgia for no driver’s aids and rear axle bind induced snap oversteer… the office park tree I hit might disagree but it’s been dead now these 22 years. Great writing and thanks for the memories.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

We had a few five-liter five-speeds in stock during MY1995. My impression at the time was that the '96 was faster and more eager to rev than its pushrod predecessor, an impression that is not supported by the facts. It DID come in a few better colors, though, and I preferred the taillights.
Geoff
Pit Crew

Another small masterpiece, Mssr. Baruth.

Found a mythical character in a small town Ford dealership.

Had to pause to look up Michel Foucault and Camille Paglia, as I don't recall their work from Oprah's book club recommendations.

If we could ressurect Doug Kenny and Harold Ramus, I see a delicious satire of Car Dealership world, and many people vying to contribute their anecdotes.

A guy who sold me a handsome V6 Chevy Beretta in 1988 confided years later , over a couple Scotches, the rallying cry for the sales force was ,"There's an ass for every seat!"

Hence the high regard for customers, who dreaded showroom visits like a trip to the dentist.

Ultimately gave rise to the "Saturn method" of car sales, no pressure techniques, am I correct?

The Beretta performed nicely as a tow car for my SCCA Sports Renault for years (predecessor of the Spec Racer Ford you rented, and then wrecked, recently, I might add.)

Your columns and obtuse references remind me how I fell behind "the curve" in English classes at Kenyon College.

But I digress. Much like you do, Jack, but yours are thankfully more clever.

Keep up the great work.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

Towing an SR with a Beretta should entitle you to some sort of certificate in commitment to club racing, I think.

For what it's worth, I was once quite enamored of the female fencing coach at Kenyon, twenty long years ago.
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

"Certificate" and "commitment" but to probably a different "institution".  Crazy!

genethemachine
Pit Crew

Wow this was a great one! Brought back so many memories. I spent my impressionable college years selling cars, when I wasn’t in class. I definitely miss the characters of the car business and the important life lessons they provided. It was the best job an 18 year old kid could have, I came out tougher and smarter after spending almost 5 years in the car business. Great life lessons and no regrets!