I was in need of a new vehicle right after my divorce, and I had never bought a car on my own. When I was in high school, my older sister sold hers to me, and when I got married my spouse made the choice. So the idea of going to a dealership and trying to find something new was a little bit scary for me. I enlisted my dad to ride shotgun so he could give me good advice.
We pulled into the first dealership and he said,
“Try to avoid the salesman. Drive around a bit.”
I did my best. How does one navigate an eight passenger van and go unnoticed? We saw a guy trying to approach us when my dad said,
“Turn. Turn. Don’t let him get near us!”
I swiftly turned the wheel to dodge him and it became a giant game of cat and mouse. I wasn’t able to look at cars because I was too preoccupied deciding which way to go to dodge this stranger who my dad had deemed as a heat seeking missile.
“These guys are all out to take your money. You can’t even look and they start to bother you.”
This went on far too long until I thought the person went left but he faked me out and darted right so he could catch up to the passenger side of the car. He stood by the door and made a motion for my dad to roll down his window. My dad sat stiff and didn’t move a muscle with his eyes locked straight forward.
“I think he wants you to roll down the window so he can talk to you.”
“I know what he wants. He wants our money.”
I hit the button on my side of the car to open the window. I heard quiet giggles from my two girls in the backseat.
“What brings you folks out?” the man asked.
“I am looking for a new car,” I said. My dad wasn’t offering any type of friendly chatter.
“Well, we have a lot of them, ” he said with a smile.
“We are just driving through to look around,” I replied. I was feeling somewhat anxious since I was the only one holding up the conversation from the car.
“I am hoping to trade in this van and get something different.”
The salesman reached in and placed his hand on my dad’s shoulder.
“I am sure we could find you something here,” he said with a bright smile.
I saw my dad glance down at the guy’s hand and then said,
“What are you doing? Seeing where you can stick your knife into me? Trying to find the soft spot?”
The man’s eyes widened as he retreated a few steps back from the car. My dad took himself off of mute and continued,
“Well, you know you guys are all alike. You just want to take our money.”
Again, I heard small muffled laughter from the backseat.
The salesman tried to keep himself composed.
“No. I just want you to find a new vehicle that you would like.”
“Riggghht. And, take our money,” my dad shot back.
This was not going how I thought it would.
“Drive around and see if there is anything you like, and if you do, come find me.” He stalked off.
After a few moments, I said,
“Why don’t we try another place?”
For some reason, I kept feeling like there was something I was missing. I had no clue what I was doing and my dad was driving away the help.
He suggested another dealership, so I went there.
When I pulled into the parking lot, I saw an orange car sitting near to where I parked. I got out of the van, pointed at it and said,
“I think that is my car.”
“What?” my dad said.
“That is my car. I think that is the one.”
“You haven’t looked at anything yet.”
“I know. That’s it.”
I had no sooner spoken when we saw a man coming toward us.
“Here he comes,” my dad grumbled under his breath.
The man extended his hand and said,
“Hi, my name is Randy.”
My dad reciprocated by saying,
“You guys are all nuts!”
I saw Randy’s smile fade. So, when he turned to me I said,
“Nice to meet you. My name is Chris, and I am sorry about that. He doesn’t trust car salesmen.”
“I know there are people out there who aren’t so nice,” Randy said. “I am not one of them.”
My dad chuckled. To most people unaware, they would have thought my dad was being jovial. I knew it was one of those laughs that meant he didn’t believe the guy for a minute.
I decided to test drive the car and soon found myself in a negotiation over a 2005 burnt orange Pontiac Vibe. As I went back and forth with costs, my dad appeared out of no where with a powdered donut in one hand and white sugar surrounding his lips. When he spoke a puff of white dust filled the airspace. Somebody apparently had found the free snacks by the coffee.
“What is going on? Are you getting it?”
“I don’t know, ” I said. “He is going back and forth with the manager trying to help me get a lower price.”
My dad disappeared and returned crunching down a bag of popcorn. It was like he was at the state fair eating his fill.
“This is the best we can do,” Randy said. “He won’t go any lower.” He placed a piece of paper with a number on it in front of me.
“Then, I am not going home with the car. That is still too high.”
“Are you sure? It’s a really nice car with low miles and would be very dependable.”
“I just can’t do that much right now. Thank you for helping me.”
I was surprised by how determined I had become in such a few short hours. I thought my dad would do all the talking but he was too busy chewing. However, I learned that I did have the courage to venture into something I hadn’t ever done before, and I didn’t crawl out the door or hang my head. That car was supposed to be mine, but I wasn’t going to bite off more than I could handle financially.
I shook his hand, and I really was grateful for his attempts. He looked sad as I walked away, and I felt that it wasn’t so much about him not making the sale but about me not getting the car.
I got back into the van, and dropped off my dad so he could be home in time for dinner, although he had eaten his way through the dealership. We had spent the entire afternoon on one car and I had come home without anything to show for it. The word frustrated didn’t even come close to how I felt because I knew without a doubt that the car I had test driven was meant to be mine.
I prepared dinner and tried to take my mind off of it. While cleaning up the dishes, my youngest daughter said,
“I went online and looked at the car. I think the price is lower.”
“I don’t even want to talk about the car,” I said. I couldn’t take it. Not purchasing it was bothering me, and I figured she was just trying to make me feel better.
“Let me show you what I found.”
“I don’t want to look at it. I really want it, and I can’t have it.”
She insisted that I look at what she was trying to show me. For nine years old, she was a persistent one.
“Is this the car?” she asked. I half looked at the computer screen.
“Yes. But, that is the wrong price. That is what I wanted to pay. They quoted me a higher amount.” I stepped in closer to examine it further.
“I am calling them!”
I hadn’t been home for more than two hours and already I was back in the thick of it getting my hopes up.
“How may I direct your call?” a lady answered.
“I was in today looking at a 2005 Pontiac Vibe. The price was too high, but online it is lower and it is what I am willing to pay. Could you find out the actual price?”
I was put on hold while she spoke with the person who listed the vehicles online.
“The price you are seeing online is the correct one. The person in charge of the online pricing said he just changed it. He had no idea you were even in here looking at it today.”
“I think I am coming back right now,” I said.
I called my dad and drove back to the dealership.
This time, I signed the paperwork and left with the car I KNEW I was supposed to have.
When God wants you to have something, a way will be made. If you are willing to let an unseen hand guide you and you can give up your reasons why it is impossible, then the struggle to obtain what you desire doesn’t have to be difficult. This is usually not accompanied by a giant billboard or a flashing neon sign telling me what to do. It is often more subtle than that and comes from a inner knowing that can only be described as a good vibe.