My father sold used cars.
He did this for a short while in the 1960s, before being a composition and literature professor at a community college.
He tells the tales of his days on the lot. My Mom gets nervous. Like a wife does. You can see her remembering those days. The worst part about a bad day as a salesperson is to come home to your wife. The inherent suspense of today’s story:
“Got a good one today,”
“Didn’t sell anything today, lick ’em tomorrow.”.
Or “Boss screwed me today, they took half my commission out of that deal that was supposed to pay us good.”
It seems ridiculous if you’re not in the fight. It seems unstable, strange, and impossibly risky.
The struggles of a salesperson happen in front of friends and family and that erodes beliefs. “You’ve made big promises for a long time.” That’s what the wife knows. But “A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory.”
A salesman, though, has a different memory of these events. He’s out there, making things happen. He’s got a chance, by god, and he’s gonna do it. He’ll close that deal and he’ll become so necessary he’ll make sales manager.
I’ve entertained a used car fantasy for years now. I love to sell. Scratch that, I love to _close_. I’ve never done it, but I want to put my lot in with the divorcées and hustlers and slime-bags. Snaking deals and stalking your prey. The squalor and splendor and hope and failure. The 90% turnover rate, and the machismo.
Selling cars feels like the purest form of sales there is. People wander on the lot hostile, expecting you to lie to them. You have to disarm their baggage and get them to choose a car and a payment and to feel like their car better than money. To keep their cool. To win the sales manager over as well, and to keep your colleagues out of your deals.
The problem right now is the hours. They don’t want dabblers, they want lifers. I could do it if all they wanted was a normal commitment, but they want 60, 70 hours. And they want to control you, not to get winners, they want utility team players.
But – what sane person harbors a used car fantasy?