So I know this is kind of sick but one thing I really like to do is screw around with car salesmen. Like I’ll be bored or something or just driving up the highway and I’ll see a car lot and I’ll say to myself, Jobso, it’s go time. I do this a lot. I know. It’s fucking evil and I’m wasting their time. What can I tell you? It’s so easy. I mean they’re just sitting there waiting for you to come in and fuck with them.
Little example. Yesterday I’m driving past Stevens Creek Toyota in San Jose and I can’t resist. It’s lunchtime, I’ve just smoked just a tiny bit of weed in my car and I don’t have any appointments until three. So in I go, trying to look a bit lost and daffy, like a bleeding swimmer drifting into a pool of sharks, and boom — like that, a dude named Hassan is all over me.
I tell him I’m looking for a used minivan. He sits me down and we go through his list of what he’s got on the lot and we settle on a 1999 Sienna with a hundred and forty-five thousand miles. Now here’s what’s amazing. The guy is so hungry for a sale that he doesn’t think to wonder why a guy who just drove up in a five hundred thousand dollar Mercedes SLR McLaren Roadster is shopping for a shitbox minivan. He also has no idea who I am. I mean he takes my license and makes a copy of it and calls me Mr. Jobs but still has no idea. I mean it’s clear he has no idea. The reason? I’m not in uniform. I’m wearing a baseball cap and a white Oxford shirt. This always works. It’s amazing.
So the thing is, I love to meet car salesmen and hear their rap. They’ve all got a rap and this huge long list of tricks and I have to admit they never cease to entertain and amuse me. So we get into the shitvan and start driving and Hassan’s rap is to ask me all about my needs as a consumer and then start telling me why this is such an amazing van and perfect for me and using all these little linguistic tricks to make it seem like I already own the van. I tell him I’m a single guy but I just adopted a set of septuplets from Finland (I pronounce it “Findland” to see if he’ll notice; he doesn’t) and I need a vehicle that can hold all the kids plus my grandmother who’s going to be taking care of the kids while I’m at work, and she’s a hundred and two years old but still really spry though she’s also in a wheelchair so we’ll need to have the van retrofitted with a handicap lift and will that be possible?
Of course of course of course, Hassan says, that’s no problem we do that all the time and these vans are the best in fact I think the older models are even better than the new ones because they get the better mileage and this is exactly the right one for you I mean I could sell you a newer one but why do you need that? Why? The kids are going to spill stuff and why mess up a new van?
Plus there’s the lift, I say. He goes, That’s right that’s right the lift. And the kids being from Findland, I say, see they’ve never actually been in any kind of vehicle over there so I want something that can make them comfortable and we’ll need a set of seven car seats can you provide those? Of course of course of course, he says.
So I’m driving and he’s saying how nice the ride is and how smooth the engine sounds and I wait until he pauses and I go, Hassan, you know what? This van is shit. He goes, What? I go, This van is shit. It’s a fucking piece of shit. You know it and I know it. Come on. Admit it. Be honest. This is a fucking big piece of shit. It’s a shit van. The engine sucks, the brakes are shot, the radio doesn’t even work. He’s like, No, it does! and he turns on the radio to prove it. I go, No, that radio is fucked up. It’s missing stations. It’s got a weak antenna. Or maybe no antenna. They probably broke the antenna, the previous owners. He says no that can’t be true but even if it is they will definitely put in a new antenna if one is needed. I’m like, Okay, take out a piece of paper and a pen and start making a list. New antenna —
He goes, If it needs one.
I’m like Hassan, do I look like a bitch? Then stop trying to fuck me like a bitch! This piece of shit van fucking needs a new antenna Hassan so put a fucking antenna on the list. New antenna. New wheels. New brakes. I want disk brakes all around. If it’s got drum brakes in back I want them changed over to disk brakes. And new rotors. You fucking understand me? Do I need to start smashing into other cars to prove this to you?
But here’s the creepy thing: I say all this stuff in a totally psycho monotone voice, staring straight ahead, clutching the wheel with both hands, and looking like at any minute I’m going to cross the center line and smash into an oncoming car.
He sits there and doesn’t speak. He doesn’t move. I go, Hassan, start making that fucking list right now. He does, and then he says, in a very soft voice, Could you turn here and head back to the lot please?
We go back. I hop out and turn all bright and cheery. I go, Dude, I love that van. Let’s go inside and talk price. Amazingly enough, he does it. We go inside. He says he has to go get the price from his manager. He comes back with a piece of paper and a number on it: $10,995. I take the paper and look at it. I mean I really stare at it. Then I take it and very calmly tear it in half, then in quarters, then in eighths. I tear it until it’s shredded and then I sprinkle the pieces on his desk. I look at him. He looks at me. I nod toward his manager. He goes off for another number.
He comes back and the number is $10,595. I take out a lighter and set the paper on fire and drop it in his wastebasket. That freaks him out and the rest of the idiots too — funny but fire really has this primal effect on people, which is why magicians like to use it — and they all come running over and the manager says I really need to calm down and stop doing stuff like this. But here’s the amazing thing. They still want to sell me a car.
The manager goes, How much do you want to pay for the van? Tell me your number. I tell him I’ve seen the exact same van with less miles on it at another Toyota dealer and they only want nine hundred bucks. If he can beat that price, I’ll take it. The guy just laughs. I laugh back, and I do this really deranged intentionally fake weirdo Frank Booth kind of laugh, like the laugh that Hillary uses in a debate when someone really bitch-slaps her with a tough question about her tax returns.
The manager goes into the whole rap about how the dealership needs to make money and they paid a lot of money for this van and he says but since it’s the last day of the month and they need to move cars he can go check with his manager and come back to me, and sure enough a few minutes later he comes back with yet another piece of paper and before he hands it to me he makes me promise not to set it on fire and then he gives it to me and it says $9,995 and he says this is his rock bottom absolute best price. I go, That’s with the wheelchair lift right? He’s like, The what? I tell him that Hassan promised me they would install a wheelchair lift in the van for my one-hundred-and-two-year-old wheelchair-bound grandmother plus throw in seven car seats for the septuplets from Findland.
The manager gets all pissed but Hassan denies making any such promise. I say, No no no, you absolutely promised, and here’s the list on my piece of paper where he wrote down all the stuff he was going to throw in for free. Hassan is freaking out and denying up and down.
The manager says his price is just for the van and any extras will have to be negotiated separately. So I hand the paper back to him and I reach out like I’m going to shake his hand. But instead I go, Hey, pull my finger. He does. I fart. Then I thank him for an enjoyable forty-five minutes and walk out to my half million dollar Mercedes and drive away.