I have spent the whole week recovering from a debilitating head cold and am finally at the end of it. So there is still no art, but I did do my bit for world peace and sent out 12 postcards this morning - going to Russia, USA, China, Brazil, and Holland. My hope is that my art will not languish much longer!
The Wagon And The Hero
43rd in the Tuesday Story Series
One of my husband's least favorite things is to go shopping. And car shopping is probably dead last on that list. But sometimes you have to do what is necessary and be thankful that it is not something that has to be done frequently!
In 1988, we had purchased a used station wagon which soon became a driving headache. Among other issues, it leaked in three places around the windshield whenever we had a respectable amount of rain, one of the leaks in the driver's area. After trying in vain to seal the leaks, and deal with the other issues, we finally agreed to purchase a new car on sale. John did some research on cars and we put together a list of possibilities. We watched the ads in the newspaper and decided to spend the last day of the year making the rounds of the auto dealerships.
Dec 31, 1988 was a very rainy, cold and windy day in Charleston SC, and that didn't add to our mood as we started the day out early. After depositing our 5 year old daughter with a neighbor, we began our hunt. We visited several car dealers, made several test drives and had narrowed it down to a couple of choices. The last place we visited was a Nissan dealership. They had a 1988 Nissan Stanza wagon marked down on sale with several thousand dollars off the listed price. We took it for a test drive, and really liked it. After we got back to the dealership, we talked it over, then told the salesman that we wanted to purchase it.
By then it was late in the day, and getting dark early because of the weather. We were tired and weary, but John was vigilant as began the process of purchasing the car with all the paperwork involved. We had been escorted to the typical small, windowless office (really not more than the size of a closet) and then Mickey-the-salesman began playing the game that car salesmen often do, finding reasons to leave the room to make us think he was trying to get a better deal for us. He kept saying things like "let me ask my manager about that - I think I can reduce the price" or "I'll go check about the percentage", or "You're such a great couple, let me see if I can get a lower rate for ______" and then he'd go out in the lobby for a smoke. Yes, I know that's what he was doing! And then of course, he'd come back and assure us that he was trying to get a better deal.
These types of actions were one of the main reasons John hated to buy a car. He doesn't like to argue, he doesn't like stalling and he doesn't like it when someone isn't being upfront about something. He was trying to be patient as we sat there, very weary, with a haze of cigarette smoke hanging in the air. But Micky-the-salesman went one step too far when he came back in after the umpteenth time, sat down behind the little desk and said rather hesitantly "I ..., um, I just found out that the car doesn't have air conditioning. Do you think you need air conditioning?"
John looked at him for a split second, then rising from his chair he stormed "Do we need air conditioning?!? DO WE NEED AIR CONDITIONING?!?!?! IF THIS WERE ALASKA WOULD YOU ASK US IF WE NEEDED HEATING???" and turned to me and said "Let's go!"
Now my husband had always been an even tempered man, and during the 7 years we had been married, I had very rarely ever seen him lose his temper, and even then it was hardly an outburst. But this so stunned me and Mickey-the-salesman both that we just sat there for a minute, not moving, Mickey's mouth hanging open. John stood in front of me and said firmly "Let's go, honey." and I rose from my chair and followed him out.
When we reached the showroom, it became apparent that John's outburst had been heard by most of the staff still on the clock that New Year's Eve. We marched straight out the door into the rain, and I was still trying to adjust to what just happened. We hadn't gone more than a couple of feet when we heard behind us,
"Mr. Cook! Mr Cook! Wait! Please come back, we can straighten this out! Please, Mr. Cook!"
John had opened the umbrella and we turned as he raised it over our heads. There stood the manager of the dealership at the door, and we noticed that most of the salesmen were behind him, visible through the glass. John said "I'm not going to be jerked around like that!" More apologies from the manager, and after hesitating a moment, John said "Okay, we'll see what you have to say" and we returned to the showroom.
To make a long story short, we received the installation of the A/C at cost (we checked to make sure that part was true - it was), and another discount off of the price. We drove home the blue Stanza wagon and it served us for many years; our then 5 year old daughter later drove it when she was in high school. But the best part of the night was the affirmation that I had married a fair man who would not be pushed around. He was my hero!