Monday, May 28, 2007

Choose Your Own Adventure

The move begins. Following a nine-hour drive back from NM Sunday (my 11th time overall making that trip, and second in the Mazda) I rested a bit, and then got started on the task of packing up the past three years of my life. Although I'm not actually leaving until June 30, I figured any head start I get will be appreciated come this time NEXT month, when I hopefully won't have much more to do than throw some last minute items into a box or two. (That approach worked well for the move out to Dallas in July 2004, when I had some boxes packed by the end of April.)

So already, there are no pictures on the walls, no CDs or books in the bookcase, and paper plates and plastic cups in the cupboards. I've thrown out a lot of the sentimental detritus I've hauled with me over the past several years, and donated a bunch of old clothes to Goodwill.

As usually happens when one delves into the remnants of their past, I've also stumbled across some past mementos... inside a box marked "Do Not Open - Storage" that has languished toward the back of several closets over the years. Like a fool, I opened it... and rummaged through its contents.

I came across a creased and torn piece of pink paper, with various typed numbers on it... along with the handwritten "$1988.47." It's the "pink" -- the pay stub -- for a white 1997 Corvette I sold during my time as a salesman at a Chevy dealership in Albuquerque. The first new C5 sold in the entire state, by the way. March 7, 1997.

That moment is as much a "nexus" point in my life, as my first flight on a small plane was over five years later. On the morning of March 7 -- a Friday, and the official rollout date for the new, significantly improved C5 Corvette -- I had walked through the doors of that dealership with every intention of not working that weekend. My struggling career of selling cars was barely two months old, I only had about 20 cars out for that time, and I was already fairly sick of it. I had planned to quit at the end of that day... after giving it one more halfhearted try.

I still remember standing at the receptionists window, talking with another salesman and the aged phone operator, when a sales call came in. "It's another Corvette call," she told Jonas and me. "Who wants it?"

I'm pretty sure both of us rolled our eyes. We'd been getting calls all morning, all of them lookie-loos asking if they could test drive what was apparently the only 6-speed manual 'Vette in all of Albuquerque. "I'll take it," I sighed. I figured I could at least note the call as a phone "up," and keep the sales managers off my back that much longer.

That decision netted me close to $2,000. The call was from a prominent local attorney, who told me he'd be in to look at the car "after I finish up an interview with CNN." Sure, I replied, no problem. "And hey, say "hi" to Wolf Blitzer for me, would you please?" I added, albeit after I hung up the phone.

Turns out, though, he WAS talking to CNN... about a misquoted price for his company's stock that had gone out on the OTC that morning. About an hour later, he called me back... asking if his wife could come by and look at the car. Sure, again, no problem.

I didn't "sell" the Vette, per se. The car sold itself, by merit of its singular manual-transmission status in ABQ. My sales manager --who I'd later follow to a Ford store in Fresno -- conned another $4,000 above sticker price out of him. I just demo'd the car, did the paperwork, and reaped the rewards.

That was the day I decided to stick with car sales a little while longer, too... and I was fairly successful at it, hitting the pavement with renewed vigor, after seeing what was possible. I never made $2,000 on a car again, although I did make over $1,000 on a few used cars, and at least $500 apiece on a pair of Vettes. (I also still remember the car I sold AFTER the Vette, a green Cavalier two-door, to a single mom who desperately needed to get rid of her aging 80s-vintage Corolla. "We'll get this done quick," I told her. "I've already made my money this month." We sold it for just above invoice, and I made a $100 mini on it.)

That decision, in turn, kept me at the dealership long enough for me to meet the woman with whom I'd later move to Fresno, who started work at the dealership later that summer. It also set the chain of events in motion, that led me to where I am now.

I looked upon that pink slip of paper with a mix of pride and despair. I have no regrets about my life today... but I do occasionally lament the twisted, rocky road I took to get here. Still, it's easier to wrap your mind around past events, than contemplating what the future may hold.

I repacked the pink slip in the box, and sealed it tight... destined for the back of yet another closet.

No comments:

Post a Comment