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Charlie and the BS factory

January 5, 2017

Occasionally one is forced  to admit that there are certain things men are better at than women. (Or at least better at than I am.) One of those things is dealing with a used car salesman. So, having identified a possible replacement for my beloved Echo, I asked my mate Charlie, who does indeed know his way around motors, to come with me to look at it. Bless him, he agreed.

Our first stop of the day was ICBC to collect the plates from my deceased car. I also wanted my snow tires back, but it turned out I’d have to pay a tire company to come and remove them. Next stop was the tire store in question to find out what the cost would be to remove the snow tires ($250) versus buying new ones ($520). Information stored for future battle with the ICBC claims adjustor.

Next stop was the second hand lot. This was definitely a one-man operation, quite possibly a dodgy dealership. About forty cars and trucks on the lot, a locked office and a sign that instructed potential buyers to call a number if interested. I had spoken to John, the dealer, earlier, estimating that we would be there around noon. We got there at 11:30 and had to ring him. He turned up ten minutes later in a canary yellow sports car. A very fat man emerged from the car, who could have been straight from central casting.

Charlie was an absolute star, as I suspected he would be. After inspecting the exterior and interior of the car, he asked to see the engine. (Would I have bothered, knowing it would mean nothing to me? No, probably not.) He even tinkered with it a bit, marking his territory. I could see it on John’s face: this sale was not going to be a snow job. The fact that I’d brought a man with me meant there would be negotiation on the price. The pitch on the car had changed direction. See? There are things blokes are better at than I am.

We took the car for a test drive, Charlie at the wheel for the first half, figuring out those things that blokes who know something about cars can only figure out in the driver’s seat. (Don’t ask me.) I drove back feeling absolutely at home behind the wheel.  Charlie pronounced the Echo worth purchasing.

When we returned to the office, I asked if there was a toilet I could use and was directed to the back. I didn’t really need the loo, but I wanted “the boys” to get started without me. Sure enough, when I came back, John was saying he figured we wanted to know what could be done on the price. Charlie nodded and John immediately offered to drop $200. I then went into my prepared spiel: I had $3000 in my savings account, which I could give him on the spot, but I couldn’t go any higher until ICBC settled my claim. He made appropriate noises about needing to make some money on the sale. He got busy with his calculator and eventually came up with the original price, but now including tax.

Charlie said we needed to go outside and talk about it. Apparently this is part of the dance. After voicing his opinion that this was a good price, he came up with a new story, so John wouldn’t think I’d suddenly magicked hundreds of extra dollars out of thin air. We would say that he was lending me the difference until ICBC settled. Back in the office to shake on the deal.

Let me take a moment to describe the office. There was a life-size cardboard cut-out of Elvis Presley (with whom John clearly identified), another one of Humphrey Bogart and one of John Wayne. There was – predictably – a lot of Las Vegas artwork and memorabilia. And, hanging on the wall above one of the customer chairs, this sign.



Basically, the office was his man cave. The reason this is of particular interest to me is that I have agreed, starting in March, to direct a production of Norm Foster’s comedy The Motor Trade, a play about two used car salesmen, one of whom, I couldn’t help realising is John’s soulmate (temperamentally if not physically). Lots of great ideas for set design for the play. (As I said to Charlie when we were doing the back and forth from the bank and the ICBC office, if I was a professional director I could probably write the whole thing, including the car purchase, off on my taxes as research. Oh, well.)

So, the upshot is, yesterday was a very good day. The sun was shining and I came home with a new(er) Echo.


Not only that, but I had the fun of watching guys do their thing. I won’t say Charlie had John eating out of  the palm of his hand. If that was true, I would have got the car for nothing. But he played a blinder. Top geezer.

From → Columns

One Comment
  1. Donna permalink

    Top geezer indeed! And well done you…seems you played YOUR part brilliantly 😉

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