USED CAR SALESMAN
By Jeremy Statton: I have a friend who is a used car salesman, a label that nobody wants.
I was helping my mother buy a car. She is a widow, and my dad used to take care of everything for her. When he lost his battle to cancer 13 years ago, the job was handed over to me.
When I walked in the store with her, I made my mission very clear: "I am here to take care of my mother, who is a widow and has a budget. How can you help me?" I asked the salesman.
We found a car we thought would be perfect. Slightly used. Low mileage. Good starting price. Plus it was blue, which was important to her.
The car had just come in and wasn't ready to show yet. The manager told me his price, saying that he didn't feel like he could come down much more. I would come back in a few days and we could settle on a final number then.
When I came by, the manager was out that day, so the salesman gave us the write up. It was $2000 cheaper than the previous price. "We'll take it!" I said without hesitation. I couldn't believe it. It seemed to good to be true.
The manager called the next day explaining the mistake. Apparently, one of the basics of selling cars is that you never offer it for less than you're actually allowed to sell it for.
I was angry. How dare they offer me that price and take it away? What kind of business are they running? I felt I had been lied to. I was going to make him pay, or rather make him let me pay less.
Determined to get the lower price, I equipped myself with the ammunition necessary to win. I armed myself with a label.
"I thought this dealership was different. I thought you had class. Apparently you are just like any other used car salesman."
I was going to use that label to get what I wanted. Nothing else mattered to me, certainly not the person at the other end of the label. But thankfully, I didn't actually say it. I wanted to, but before I could pull it out of my arsenal, I took the time to listen.
It turns out our use of labels is often based on what we want out of another person and not in an actual truth about that person.
As he explained, I realized it was an honest mistake. I understood that he is just like me. He was new at this position and his boss is a hard man. If he let this car go at that price he would likely lose his job.
He wasn't just a man selling used cars, but a person with a family and a mortgage. He was doing the best he could, but like all of us, he messed up.
Used car salesmen, on the other hand, sell junk and call it a bargain. They cheat and lie their way to success, taking advantage of the ignorant. It is a label that you earn through hard work -- but not through honest mistakes.
I had two choices. To label and win ... or to forgive. To show grace. To allow him the second chance of negotiating the price.
I paid $1500 more than the mistake price. I wish he would have let me pay more for it. I lost the negotiations, but I gained something better. A relationship. A friendship with a used car salesman, made possible through a second chance.