A LITTLE BIT CRAZY
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Over the dealership paging system I heard the familiar call “new car sales, line one”. I hurried to answer it, after all it was first come, first serve. I gave my usual greeting along with my name. A woman’s voice on the other end said with a laugh, “this is going to sound a little bit crazy”.
Her name was Muriel. She went on to tell me that she wanted to buy a truck for her husband. Muriel asked if she could do most of it over the phone. I agreed to help in any way that I could. When you say that, you don’t expect anything out of the norm. Little did I know. Muriel told me that she had put her husband through a lot, and that they had been discussing a new truck purchase. She felt that this was the time to buy.
Muriel told me what they wanted in a pick-up. It was a 1500 model with a 5.7-liter V-8 engine. They preferred a light color beige or tan. We had a joke in those days that you know you’ve lived in the dessert to long when everything you own is tan to hide the dust. They also wanted a towing package.
I took all of her credit information over the phone. I also got her insurance information and the finance terms that she expected. She then told me that I would only be able to speak to her during certain hours. Muriel gave me very exact instructions on how to get a hold of her.
We had exactly the right Chevrolet truck that she described in stock. We processed all of her paperwork and had an instant loan approval. I called Muriel at the specified time and told her all of the good news. Then the other shoe fell. Muriel told me that she was actually a patient in the Mental Health Ward of the Hospital. The ward is guarded. She told me that I would have to bring the paperwork to her. I started having visions of “One flew over the Cuckoo’s nest”.
As a salesperson I always dressed professionally. In those days it was a tailored Christian Dior shirt, pleated dress slacks, polished black dress shoes and belt. A silk tie, with of course the socks that match. I figured that I was dressed as well or better than any Doctor. I had the finance manager type up all of the contracts and paperwork, put them in a folder and drove to the hospital.
I am in the hospital and am looking at the Guard standing in front of the ward entrance. A pair of Doctors with a file in their hands walks right in. Hey, I have a file in my hand! I just fall in with the next small group of Doctors that comes walking by. Right by the guard and into the ward. I quickly looked around and made sure I didn’t see Randle Patrick McMurphy or Chief Bromden lurking about. I should have stopped for just a moment to ponder the exit strategy…whatever.
I followed Muriel’s instructions and go right to her room, where she is sitting on the edge of her bed. She is a nice person with a great smile. I introduce myself and we shake hands. I take time to go over all of the documents and she signs everything. She tells me she is going to tell her husband and that he will be in to take delivery tomorrow. She asks me to give him all of the copies of the contract and related paperwork. Muriel ask’ if I had any problem getting in to see her. “None at all” was my reply. Now to get out.
I survey my surroundings..and still only one way out. There are two guards on the inside. I guess it should be twice as hard to get out. I realize that I can’t just stand there in front of the guards and wait, so I try to look professional and occupied. As I was trying to look busy, I realize that everybody that isn’t a patient has a badge on and I don’t have a badge on. Great, do the guards look at the badges? It seemed to take a forever for a group of Doctors to walk by, but when they do, I am in instantly the middle of them. We walk in a group right by the guards. Once outside, I’m on my way back to the dealership. The thought of not getting out barely crossed my mind. (I’m not a patient; I’m a car salesman!)
Her husband came to the dealership and was more than happy to get the new truck that he had wanted. He received all of the paperwork along with a full tank of gas. All smiles as he drives away.
I didn’t think what I did was illegal or immoral. Quite the opposite. These people had to be completely satisfied. They had grounds to return the truck for any reason at any time. The beautiful thing is that they didn’t. They got a great truck and on the right terms. Best of all is that they came back four years later and traded up to a newer truck. It was great to earn their businesses again. This time, I was very happy that I didn’t have to get by any guards.
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