The lot looked deserted. The only movement was the bobbing of the balloons floating from the antennas of a row of gleaming new cars. Even though I couldn't see him, I knew he was lurking in the shadows, eager to pounce on his prey.
The minute I opened the door, he'd be on me like a hyena on a zebra carcass, pumping my arm and showering me with business cards. There was no way he was going to let me leave the lot without making a down payment.
I hate buying a new car. Even dealership commercials can send me into a tizzy. I'll be listening to the soft-rock station when the dulcet tones of Barry Manilow are replaced with someone bellowing, "No money down delivers!" The cacophony continues, followed by low mumblings about exclusions of tax and title and the necessity of surrendering one's first-born child.
The horrific memories linger from the last time I bought a car.
Six years later, here I am again, a lamb ready for the slaughter.
For a minute, I lose my nerve and try to escape, but the car lot is a labyrinth with no quick exits.
The minute I close my car door, a salesman is at my side.
"I'm just looking!"
"Whoa," he says. "No need to be stressed. We're very low pressure around here."
"Ha! That's what they all say."
I slink through the aisles of cars, expecting to be relentlessly shadowed by the salesman, but he unexpectedly hangs back.
"I'd like to test drive this one," I tell him. "But don't get any crazy ideas. I'm still just browsing."
"Here you go," he says, tossing me the keys. "Have a good drive."
"You're not coming with me?" I demand.
He shook his head. What was with this guy? Was he using some sort of psychological warfare on me?
"OK," I said after I returned. "I'm interested in this car, but I don't want a long, torturous process where you play good-cop, bad-cop with the sales manager. Understood?"
"Gotcha," he said agreeably.
When we went to his office, I gave him a low-ball offer, waiting for him to give me the inevitable look of pain and utter betrayal. Instead he simply said, "OK. Let's draw up the papers."
I watched in disbelief as he prepared the contract. Where are all the hidden charges?
"Now if you'll step into the business manager's office," he said. "He'll finish you up."
So this was his evil plan. "Finish me up" was the code phrase for unleashing shock and awe on my checkbook.
"I don't want an extended warranty!" I screamed as I entered the office.
"That's fine, Ms. Gillespie. You're all set. Come back and see us."As far as I could tell, he was serious. Had I actually bought a car without tears and teeth gnashing? Hmmm, maybe I would come back after all.
Karin Gillespie is the founder of this blog. Visit her at http://www.karenneches.com/ or http://www.karingillespie.com/