Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Not all customers look like stock-brokers

Opening up the "Where are they now?" files for this one...

Waaaaaaay back in 1992, I was looking to buy a car. Specifically, I wanted to buy a used Mazda Miata. (Stop! You don't know me that well.) My friend Andy decided to accompany me to the local Mazda dealership in Laguna Hills, where there were plenty of pre-owned Miatas waiting for new owners.

Now, Andy and I had both just graduated from college, and we probably looked a little rough around the edges. (What can I say? The ladies were digging the scruffy look.)

So I can understand a bit of skepticism when we strolled onto the lot.

But the salesman who greeted us -- and I use the term loosely, because it was more of an interdiction -- literally asked us, "What do you boys want?" (Not "How can I help you?". Just "What do you boys want?".)

His name was Big Wayne Lemon. I'm not being cute; his business card actually read "Big Wayne Lemon, Sales." Now, I think it takes big brassy ones to go into used car sales with a name like that, so I was inclined to like the guy. I told him I was interested in a Miata.

Big Wayne gave me a slightly closer look and then said, "Have a look around the lot. I'll be inside."

Hm. Kind of a brush-off. But OK, we'll look around and then talk.

The thing is -- and Big Wayne didn't know this yet, and would never know it -- I was ready to buy. I was, how you say, a hot prospect. So after confirming the presence of at least one test-drive-worthy vehicle, I approached Big Wayne inside the dealership.  He was not with another customer; he was talking idly to another sales person. It was a slow day on the lot. I told him I wanted to test-drive one of his cars.

Big Wayne refused me. He said something to the effect that only serious buyers can test-drive the Miatas. I told him I was very serious, that I'm going to buy a Miata. He said no.

I was... amazed. Stunned. Defeated. We left the lot, embarrassed and angry.

Here's the punch-line: A week later I bought a Miata, a sweet candy-apple red number, from a dealership in Woodland Hills. And then about two weeks after that, Andy bought a Miata. A new one! (Yes, I know how it sounds. Stop.)

Andy and I always talked about how much fun it would be to drive our two Miatas onto Big Wayne's lot, horns honking, scruffy hair flying in the breeze. "How you like me now, BIG WAYNE!?"

Alas, we never did it.  :-/

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