Saturday, June 13, 2009

Death of the Salesman?

My husband and I bought a car this week (an ’06 Kia Sedona minivan for those who like to have all the details).

We did a lot of internet research before going out to the car dealerships because we wanted to save time, and, frankly, we were doing all we could to postpone having to deal with the salesmen.

When we bought our last car six years ago we were slowly cruising through a car lot we had just been passing by and impulsively pulled into when the salesman literally jumped in front of our vehicle and pretended we had hit him in order to get us to stop. Three hours later, after being worked on by the salesman, the junior manager, the senior manager, and a fellow I’ll refer to as “the closer”, we actually bought a car from the dude.

This time around I cringed as we entered the first dealership. I figured in the current economy and with the state of the motor vehicle industry we were going to get hammered. I waited for the onslaught of eager car salesmen of the polyester pants and slicked back hair variety to converge on us. No one came.

We parked next to the vehicle we were interested in, got out, got the kids out, and began looking in the windows of said vehicle. We inspected that thing every which way we could from the exterior. Still no one came. Finally, my husband headed for the office to find someone with a key.

A salesman came out, opened up the car, and let us check it out. Before we could even worry about haggling he told us the price was as low as they could go, as they were into the vehicle for only $200 less than the asking price. He was very pleasant - the epitome of low pressure. It seems the times in the car dealing business are a-changin’.

This experience was a good reminder for me of how refreshing it is when characters surprise you. Nothing is more boring as a reader than when you’re introduced to a character and you feel like you already know them inside and out and you proceed to predict their actions throughout the course of the whole story. There are obvious stereotypes which we all try to avoid in our writing, but what about the more subtle pre-conceived notions we have about certain types of people, occupations, places, etc.? Are they creeping in?


  1. No! the death of the sleezy slick haired car salesman is going to ruin my political thriller where the car salesman jumps in front of her car and basically verbally attacks the heroine.
    Kidding Kidding! So glad you had a good experience and Congrats on the minivan...that is definitely a rite of passage into Utah parenthood.
    What a great reminder to keep our characters fresh and give them some unprecedented behaviors that keep readers guessing. Like what if the slimey salesman secretly rescues stray cats for the humane society? LOL.
    Anyway good reminder.

  2. Rescues stray cats? WOW.

    Isn't it funny when we dread something, brace ourselves for that awful moment, and then realize its not going to be that bad?

    The day I was to start my shots I was a HUGE baby. First I fell and hurt my knee (hurt it worse than the initial diagnosis) and I screamed and screamed, mostly just because of the anxiety of the coming shot.

    Then I sat through a 90 minute training, with the dread building each passing minute. Finally the time had arrived for me to purposfully hurt myself. I had to stick a needle into my skin, knowing that the side-effects could make me feel like I always had the flu, just to see if this drug would work for me; a 40-60% chance.

    I was frozen. The needle sat poised above my flesh as my eyes beseeched all in the room to come to my rescue. In typical paramedic sympathy Steve's eyes just said "Suck it up".

    I brushed the needle across my skin a time or two. The training nurse reassured me with tales of others who sat in that same position for 45 minutes trying to get the nerve.

    Finally I pushed that tiny subQ needle into my fatty stomach. I felt nothing. I injected the medicine. Again I felt nothing. It was painless.

    I had built up in my mind the drama and pain of that moment and there was no problem. Surprising.

    (Like finding a no-pressure salesman.)

  3. I'm reading "City of Bones" right now. It's refreshing that the main romantic interest guy is as arrogant as any teenage guy would be when he know girls want him so badly. That's a twist.

  4. It's why I like the Count of Monte Cristo. (Yes, I am still reading it). Soooooooo, many layers.

  5. My novel is about a slick haired car salesman named Graham who is arrogant, loves the Count of Monte Cristo, and likes to rescue stray dogs on the side (rescuing cats is so cliche).

  6. Reminds me of the time a salesman showed us a minivan. I decided I didn't like it, turned it off, and when the salesman got into the minivan to start it again and move it, IT WOULDN'T START!!! I looked at him in a puzzled and disgusted way, I'm sure, and then told him we were done looking for the day.

    Salesmen and sales give me the heebie jeebies. Something about selling their mom if the price was right...

  7. I'd like to know why it is that buying a car takes so long. Hours and hours and hours ... even if you have cash in the bank. What's up with that?

    (Oh, and just so you know, I've never had cash in the bank to buy a car. That was my mom. :)

  8. I've had cash in the bank (inheritance) to buy a car and they won't let you do it. Of course we were young and gullable and tried to build up good credit. Nonetheless, twice we tried to buy a car with cash and the dealership had trouble with it.

  9. By the way, welcome to the blog Tristi. :)