In the blood

I went to visit my daughter at her new job today on my way down to visit my lady. As I suspected, she works for the new owners of a family-owned dealership that I used to do business with. This is the new face of the car business; big conglomerates buying out the family “mom and pop” stores. These dealerships are known for excessive expectations, high pressure, and high turnover. It can be a miserable environment.
But it pays well if you buy in and can learn the process. My daughter seems to be doing both. An additional tool in her belt is that her manager really likes her. I know this because he told me today when I visited. They all like her from what I can tell. They love her personality, her eagerness and ability to learn, and her toughness despite her small stature. It also wasn’t lost on them that her old man is a seasoned car guy. In her manager’s words, “it’s in the blood, obviously”. I didn’t even have to tell him my background, my daughter already did.

I enjoyed watching her at work. She seems comfortable in her new digs. She doesn’t have that “holy shit what do I do?” look found on many newbies. Her entire demeanor says “I’m here to help.” Her wonderful personality is finally working for her professionally.

I had reservations at first about her doing this. I thought she was too delicate and I feared that she didn’t heed my cautionary tales enough and would be in for a rude awakening when, hypothetically, she missed her quota one month and ended up being fired. Apparently, she recognizes that there are no guarantees and no safety nets and she is prepared for it to not work out. She told me as much today as I walked the lot with her.
“Dad”, she said, “It’s a stepping stone. I’ll give it a year and move on.”

With any other job, I would say that it was the wrong attitude. In this case, she is being realistic and logical. Two traits her mother will never give her credit for but I always knew were there under the surface. I am proud of her.

And given her mental health lately, I will support her in anything that excites her and gives her hope. She is my joy and her happiness means absolutely everything to me.

The “hook”

Well, my daughter has officially embarked on her career in the car business. While I have no expectations that this will be a long-term thing, I am very happy that she was willing to make a change. On top of that major step, she is really diving right into this. I’m very encouraged about that, enough so that the choice of change isn’t as important to me as the commitment behind it. People who suffer from depression have difficulty finding motivation, never mind the drive to see it through.

By all accounts she kicked ass during her training. What I get from her is that the dealership is one of those high-pressure, high turnover places that fires people randomly and often. She doesn’t seem to be concerned about that. I’m impressed by that. She learned everything she was told to and impressed the trainer in the process. He has told her that he will be watching her, a luxury she didn’t observe him giving anyone else. On the last day of training, she was sent off with high expectations. And she has the attitude to meet them. And that is the source of my happiness, she’s busting out of her comfort zone and is willing to do what it takes.

She sold her first car on her first day on the floor. In her words, she “didn’t do anything”. I know those deals. Finalized by the sales manager over the phone and given to a lucky rep who either needs a sale or is a favorite of the managers. In her case it was probably to break the first barrier of selling that first deal. Either way, she got it and made the most of it. It’s called “a hook”, in which some lucky soul gets hooked up. She did something right, the customer sent her a nice card and some expensive gifts as a thank you today. I’m so happy for her.

I used to get a lot of hooks when I sold cars. I was always top dog so you would think that I wouldn’t have been favored but sometimes a hook is more than a guaranteed sale. First of all, those deals can always fall apart, nothing is ever guaranteed. There are sales associates who don’t give the customer the best treatment because they feel entitled (or lazy) by being given a slam dunk. I always gave it my best. My hooks were in the interest of taking a possible and making it a certainty. The managers counted on me to finish the deal.

Another capacity I filled was handling difficult customers. Whenever the Internet dept. had a difficult customer coming in it would invariably go to me. I could handle the worst of them. I was the anti-salesman. No gimmicks and no smoke and mirrors. I handled objections as hurdles to get over and always kept the customer focused and on track. It always amazed me how some salespeople couldn’t master that one thing; follow the process and don’t get off track.

My daughter vaguely remembers visiting me at the dealership when she was younger. She remembers my managers telling her what a good salesman her dad was. She saw my happy customers. Now she has an even deeper understanding of what it was that I did, and she wants to learn everything she can.

I look forward to showing her all of it. This is going to be a good thing for both of us. She gets to learn something new and make some money. I get to spend time with one of my absolute favorite people in the world and help her be the best. Win win.

Like Father like Son

I know people that openly talk about how their childhood sucked. Did it, really? Maybe in hindsight, that’s possible for some but not for me. That wonderful era before I morphed into a sullen, zit-faced chronic masturbator was a wonderful time.
My mother loves to talk about what a happy, easy child I was. I love the whimsical look on her face when she does. I suppose I was.
Looking back, one thing I remember is that I was able to amuse myself, which of course made my mother’s life easier. Between what seemed like miles of Orange Hotwheels track set up in my room and the dirt track that I created under the big pine tree at the top of the yard I could occupy myself all day with my cars alone. It’s interesting, I know I had a lot of interests and favorite toys as a little guy, but the Matchbox cars really stand out. It was a manifestation of my overall love for cars in general. I shared that with my dad, it was our thing.

Some of the Matchbox cars in the late’60s and early ’70s were silly, with huge tires and engine blocks sticking through the hoods. They were likenesses of the Funny Car craze. I liked them enough but I had a real taste for the classics from an early age. I liked the ‘Vettes, the Mustangs, the El Camino’s. I recognized them from the road, where I sat in the backseat of the family Truckster and just looked at cars. By the time I was 8, I could identify most cars by brand and model simply in seconds, even at night by their headlights alone. But as a little guy, maybe 4, my understanding of the American Muscle car was nothing less than precocious.
Just as grown men put their ‘Vettes and Mustangs in their garages and wipe them down with a cloth diaper, I also put my nice ones away when playing outside. They were to be looked at and shown off to my friends. Most of my time was spent playing with trucks. Pickup trucks. Tow-trucks. Cement trucks. Car-haulers. These toys looked like the real ones, I always picked them that way. It wasn’t a lack of imagination, it was an homage to my favorite truck driver, my father.

Is it a surprise that I spent a large portion of my career in some form of the car business?

Do it now…conclusion

After getting a small but desperately needed amount of sleep at the Fleabag motel that charged me the reasonable rate of $202.00 for one night I rejoined my compadres at their motel. I was just in time for breakfast. When I went to the lobby of the restaurant I found my boys talking to a guy I didn’t know. It was Pete, who had driven up that morning to meet the others, apparently he was a regular part of the group. I liked him immediately although I suspected even then that he would be bunking with us that night and add to the cacophony. But I was too hungry to worry about that then.

After a huge breakfast we walked to the event du jour, the Adirondack Car Show. We weren’t the only ones, the sidewalks were mobbed with people heading the same way.

I was tired, full and probably in need of dialysis but I was as giddy as Michael Jackson watching the Little League World Series. As we went through the gate we were greeted by a wall of vendors selling anything car-related. Beyond that area I could see a ocean of glittering cars. I was in my element, although nostalgic over how I wish my Dad was with me. He loved car shows and he would have loved this one.

The fairground was set up with no particular system. I imagine that the first ones there got the best spots. Classics, Rat Rods, both original and modified muscle, trucks ranging from the 30’s to the 70’s all mingled in perfect harmony. I was immediately struck by how the owners stood by their cars or sat in lawn chairs waiting impatiently for someone to talk about their cars. I am friends with a lot of car guys and I know the labor of love these cars can be in the restoration and preservation process. I was their dream, I talked to everyone. I also got to watch Charlie number 2 reveal his knowledge. The man was a guru of automotive knowledge. I learned a lot by just listening.

Charlie 2

After we checked out everything Charlie said let’s go to the top level. I didn’t even know there was a top level. Turns out there were 2. After more walking than I was really capable of we arrived at Carvana. Wow. As it turns out, the top is where the good stuff was. The higher pedigree cars, ones whose lineage could be traced for authenticity and originality and were extremely valuable. Mustangs, GTO’s Malibu’s, Nova’s, Impala’s and a few oddities just called out to me. Eventually Charlie and I reconnected with Charlie 1 and Pete and had a beer in the shade. It was old hat for them, I was blown away. I like cars in case you haven’t noticed. I also like people and there were so many cool ones to talk to. Including this guy…

Image may contain: 2 people, including Bill McIntire, people smiling, car and outdoor

Once we had talked to almost everyone there (or so it seemed) we went to the shore of Lake George which was at the edge of the fairground and had a late lunch. I was tired. Real tired. But the food was great and the view was better. After, we began the long walk back to motel.

I was done at that point and when talk arose about going back to the pier for appetizers and drinks I politely declined and went back to the room. I had 4 hours to myself but sleep eluded me. I was briefly interrupted when Rick came in and packed his stuff. He got a call from the wife and needed to leave. We said our goodbyes and as he roared off it occurred to me that I may have one bed to myself in his absence. I would later find out that Pete would fill that vacancy. When the guys came back, shitfaced, they all inquired if I got any sleep. They were surprised. 8 hours later when they all arose from another fart/snore fest they were again surprised to find that I had been up all night. Again. I myself was not surprised.

We set out after breakfast for the 200 mile ride home. We lost Pete and Charlie 2 halfway down and at the end it was just Charlie 1 and I. Soon it was just me.

I had time to reflect on the way home. I had done something normal. Nobody talked about dialysis even though they all knew. I had made friends. I had experienced life. I had taken risks and reaped rewards. I had created memories.

All because I said YES.

What may have been an annual event for them was a very big deal for me. While no one has any guarantees for a tomorrow, I have less odds than many. I needed to say yes, not “maybe tomorrow”, or “maybe later”. Life is happening all around me. When an opportunity arises…DO IT NOW.