One of the big things about the car business is that we salespeople get to interact with tons of very interesting people. Actually, let's concentrate on the word "interesting" for a second. You could replace "interesting" with words like crazy, whacked-out, insane, out-there, empty, or downright creepy, and you'd be 100% right.
Here's a list of the "interesting" people that I've dealt with over the course of my career:
- A wheelchair-bound woman with a degenerating disease whose family looked like they came straight out of Appalachia
- A man with verbal tics so annoying and hilarious I couldn't keep a straight face
- A man that refused to show any emotion for fear that I might use it against him
- A couple that had a 24-year age difference (the woman was older)
- A lottery winner (ok, he was just interesting)
- A man who cursed God because he couldn't qualify to buy a car
- Countless people who were "supposed to be getting a cash settlement any day now"
I could go on and on, but you get the idea. We salespeople get such a unique cross-section of humanity. I've sold cars to college football coaches, grade-school teachers, college professors, college students, civil servants, lawyers, cops, political lobbyists, and one extremely grateful woman that even hugged me after I delivered her used car.
That poor woman had been having trouble with her son. Of course, by that I mean her son was having trouble in school and with the law. I attempted to help her once before; her son was being such a tool that I couldn't get anything done with her. A couple of months later she came back, without her son. After the perfunctory questions, we settled on a car and a deal. Since there's normally an hour between an agreement on terms and a person leaving the dealership with their new car, we began to talk. The woman was ragged; hammered by life. The years of worry had left their scars on her face, and the pleading words she had been giving her son manifested in a weary voice.
She talked about her son and the issues she was having with him. I talked about my mother, who had passed away. From those two seemingly unrelated subjects, two people came to an understanding. I had given her hope for a new beginning with her son, and through that, she gave me a chance to see what it was like for my mother when things weren't always going the way they should. I had never given my mother much problem (that job was reserved for my sister), but from the flicker of light that came from that woman, I could tell that she was never going to give up fighting for her son. I saw that same light from my mother.
After finishing the paperwork, I led her out to her car. She gave me a hug. She drove away, and I haven't seen her since. Sometimes I wonder what happened to her and her son. Hopefully, they patched things up. Maybe they didn't, and he's in a juvenile hall somewhere. I've seen enough to know that there isn't always a happy ending.