Saturday, June 2, 2007

Cancer Banter at the Car Lot

My gas-guzzling Audi station wagon has been sitting idle in our driveway since we purchased my Prius in January. On Friday, I decided to drive it to my City of Hope appointment so that I could get an appraisal from CarMax, which is just a few blocks away from the hospital.

When I turned into the CarMax driveway, a young man shoved a coupon through my car window and motioned for me to park the car in one of the available slots. I explained that I was interested in selling my car and was not in the market to trade or purchase.

I made the mistake of mentioning that we could be buying a car for our daughter in a few weeks, but not now. As he started the paper work for the appraisal, he asked if I drove a long distance to get to their lot. I told him that the location was very convenient because I was a patient at the CoH, just down the street, and had an appointment that morning.

A car salesman is always looking for an "in," something in the conversation that will establish a rapport, and he sensed that this was it.

"Oh, what kind of patient are you?" he asked.

Trying to be as vague as possible, I told him that I was a chemo patient.

"Oh, what kind of cancer do you have?" he bantered. And, just in case I had forgotten, he started listing body parts to jog my memory. "Like breast cancer or lung cancer?" If I said nothing, would he continue through Gray's Anatomy of the Humah Body?

I finally admitted that I have lymphoma. "Oh, yea, I've heard of that." And then, for the next ten minutes, he launched into the tale of his father, who's been undergoing alternative treatments for prostate cancer for nearly a decade. I'm usually interested in these stories, but this saga was stalling my car appraisal. I repeatedly moved my eyes from his to the blank boxes on the clipboard form, but he didn't get the hint.

He eventually asked, "Have you considered alternative medicine?"

I knew that there was no good answer to this question. It's like when a telemarketer inquires, "May I ask why you aren't interested?" Refuse to answer or, better yet, run for the hills. I finally answered, "Yes, but I decided to go the traditional medicine route," and then I headed for the nearest bench and plopped down.

Two older gentlemen soon joined the young man appraising my car. A few minutes later, he walked over and announced that they weren't interested in my car because it has too many miles. (Hmmm, couldn't this have been determined after like ten seconds?) He suggested a private party sale or CarMax or, better yet, a trade-in for a new car.

Wait a second. I thought I was at CarMax. The sales people all wore shirts the same color as the blue in the CarMax logo. "No, they're on the other side of the driveway," he explained. "But wait, before you go let me get my card so that you can call me when you're ready to buy a car for your daughter." My first instinct was to hop into the Audi and make a mad getaway, but I politely stood around for another minute while he got his card.

I started the appraisal process at CarMax, but didn't have time to complete it because I had an afternoon coffee date. I'll return on Monday, right after my CoH morning appointment, but I've learned my lesson. I won't be mentioning City of Hope this time.


Janet Aird said...

Name, rank and serial number, and that's it. My exhusband's a very persistent salesman. When potential customers say they aren't interested, that's his cue to start arguing. Try saying you'll think about it. They have nowhere to go with that.

Good luck...

Rebecca said...

Holy cow! Car salespeople don't do themselves any favors by acting that way, do they? We had good luck looking for a pre-owned (har) car for Sam on Craigslist. Managed to by-pass all that car lot prattle. Good luck!!!!!

Piper Robert said...

Sue, you'll probably snicker and shake your head after reading this. James was visiting us (in on leave from the Army) and was interested in buying a truck. I really thought James was going to buy one Dils Ford. Before the salesman came out, James was deciding between one of two trucks. This is an actual conversation between James and the salesman.

Salesman: Good Morning!!! How may I help you?

James: I'm want a truck. (Ed. note: No laughing, please.)

Salesman: What I want to do, is get you in a truck today. I want you to have that perfect truck. That's my goal for the day. I'll do whatever it takes to get you in a truck. Is there a particular truck you're interested in?

James: Blue over there and this red one.

Salesman: Basically........what I've got, in that blue truck and the red that blue truck and the red truck. Which one do you want to try first?

James: That it?

Salesman: Yes Sir.

James: If that's all you got, thanks anyway.

Salesman: Here's my card and my name is Clark.

At that point, James turns and starts walking back to my car. I'm still confused by this bizarre exchange. Thinking I missed something, I asked James, "What happened, I thought you liked the blue one?" James was a little agitated, "I didn't like his attitude."

Rather than buy a new truck, James bought a 1978 Ford Granada from an individual for $300. One of the front tires was a bald snow tire and it had duct tape on the seats. In many respects, a prudent decision. He saved himself about $18,000 and a new truck would have tarnished the WV image.

Piper Robert said...

p.s. I placed 5th in Piobaireachd (full tune)at the McHenry Highland games in Maryland. More practice on the crunluath variation.

Susan Carrier said...

Classic Jamse story.

Congratulations Piper!

Karen said...

Salesmen rely on people not to be rude in response to their own insensitive conduct. They know most people aren't going to say "Don't be so nosy, it's none of your business" or "Stop pressuring me or I'll leave." (People like James must throw salespeople for a loop.)

Here are how some common definitions change when you're talking to a salesman:

Empathy - a mask put up to get you to take yours down; used to probe for weakness, for the purpose of obtaining an advantage.

Business card - the first step in a game of show and tell, in which a salesman shares his phone number with you so you'll feel too guilty not to share yours with him.

Used car - something a salesperson lets you test drive, so he can convince you that a new car is really the only option.

Great price - a price that rises when the salesman is selling, and falls when he's buying.

Excellent mileage - the mileage the car gets when running on a frictionless surface, with no air resistance, downhill.

Yeah Robert! Congrats!! But what ARE the Piobaireachd (full tune) and the crunluath variation????

Karen said...

Robert, I just looked up piobaireachd and crunluath on Wikipedia. I wish I could hear you play! I have a modest collection of Celtic music, but no solo pipers are among them. Do you have samples of your playing? Anything on YouTube or MySpace? Do you play professionally?

If Deepak Chopra were in your family, he'd have figured out by now that your music has healing powers and would be selling CDs to COH! (I wonder if he'd charge Susan?)

Susan Carrier said...

Karen, Brilliant definitions. Every one of them is spot on!