THE VAN CONVERSION
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The dealership’s Service Manager, calls the phone in my office. He proceeds to tell me that while he was coming in the west entrance, he saw what looked like, someone sleeping in a used Tahoe on our lot. At the time I was the General Sales Manager of the Auto Group. I felt like this person needed some personal attention. I walked promptly across three acres of pavement and directly up to the Tahoe.
The engine was running. The air conditioning was on. The power seat was adjusted to full recline. The salesman, Morton’s mouth was wide open. In fact, his mouth was positioned as to facilitate the drainage of drool, down to his chin.
“Morton”. “Morton” I repeated a louder. He jumped a little as he recognized me and then sat up. What should I do with Morton, I pondered? It was quickly, very obvious to me. I told him that he just received the one and only free pass that I had left. He’s lucky I remembered.
In the 1980’s Van Conversions were very popular. The dealership always had five to ten of them on the lot at any time. They usually had four bucket seats, a small television and a video player, mood lighting and very cool shag carpeting. They also came with molded in running boards; a lot of funny windows that came with shades and everything inside was padded.
One typically cold, windy, winter day in the desert, the activities of the night before, started to take their toll on me. I had over consumed Beer and Peanuts, while not getting near enough sleep. I was tired. I didn’t feel like talking to any customers. I knew that there was a good chance that I would hurl.
There on the back of the lot, sitting in the sun, was a van conversion, calling my name. The carpet on the floor was soft and warm. There was enough room on the floor between the bucket seats to fit my 6’ 3” self. I quickly went to sleep.
By the time my eyes focused, there was a family of five standing in front of the sliding door. The look on the kids face was priceless. The salesman, Tim, made a joke about how comfortable the van conversion must be. I gathered myself together and exited as gracefully as possible. (Not Possible) Tim never told any of the managers about that incident, but he also never let me forget about it.
When I returned to my office, Kevin, one of my managers, who is also my friend, asked why I didn’t fire the guy on the spot. I just smiled and said that I saw myself in the same spot once. In the car business, it has been said that aging comes with wisdom. But sometimes, aging comes alone. I think I made the wise choice. I also know that I have experienced forgiveness many times.
All of that experience and wisdom is here with me at Sierra Motors. It’s who I am.