Pumped with excitement at buying a car in our new country, Jimmy phoned. “I found the one!”
“What color is it?”
“You’re such a girl.”
“Oh.” I guess I should have asked about the model, the year, the engine size and the accessories.
“You can see what you think of the salesman, Teddy, next week.”
“What do you mean?”
When we arrived into a sea of Chevys, Teddy, handsome in his Labrador-eyed, toothy way, grasped me warmly by the hand and hauled me onto my feet. “HI! I’m Teddy! You must be Carol! Would you like to see your new car?!” He grinned and bounced a bit. If he had a tail, it would have been wagging furiously.
In the showroom, Teddy lounged back proprietarily in his chair, hands behind his head, elbows up, feet up, chewing gum visibly but when he was gone a series of people raided the desk drawers. Teddy didn’t even have his own desk.
When he arrived back, I was surprised to see on a page of scribbles that the price of the car was $3,000 more than Jimmy had told me. “Were you aware that the price you agreed didn’t include tax?” I whispered.
“Yes,” Jimmy bluffed for the benefit of the salesman. I should have reminded Jimmy that, unlike in Britain where sales tax is included in the ticket price, it is always added on at the point of purchase in the U.S. as a nasty aftershock. It’s not so grave when the extra amount is $3 but $3,000, well; we were both a bit nonplussed.
Then expected to sign away thousands of dollars, give or take as Teddy put it, I asked “What do you mean give or take?”
“Well my math isn’t real good so I’ve guessed tax and licensing fees at 10%.” Jimmy and I exchanged looks of amazement and horror. Not only was Teddy guessing at a high ticket price, he was expecting payment in full.
“You realise I’m not paying for the car today,” Jimmy told Teddy and Teddy blinked blankly at him. “I told you yesterday on the phone that my funds haven’t come through from the U.K. yet.” No signs of comprehension yet from Teddy. “I’m here to put a deposit on the car.” Teddy smiled benignly at Jimmy. “How much deposit would you like?”
Teddy snapped out of his trance, “How much would you like to put down?”
“Well, how much would you like to put down?” Teddy was out of his depth again.
“How about 10 per cent?” This added more confusion so Teddy hoofed it for 10 minutes to get help with his numbers and then returned, pushing more doodles at us.
“You want me to sign this?” I asked Jimmy, dumbfounded. He shrugged. I signed. Teddy swept up the hand scrawled page of numbers and stopped chewing long enough to grin broadly at us as he whisked it off to the finance office. “I’m not comfortable spending several thousand dollars with a man who can’t add up,” I said.
“Nor am I.”
“What do you want to do?” But Teddy was back and explained that we were waiting for the finance officer.
Jimmy took the opportunity to try to conclude other issues, “You’ll give us the handbook for the car and the disk for the sat nav.”
“I’ll find you a handbook and I’ll give you a good price on the disk.”
“The car was advertised with sat nav so it should come with the disk.”
“I’ll see if I can get it for you at cost.”
“NO!’ we chorused.
Teddy sprang out of his chair and out of the door like a puppy after a stick. “He’s going to try to pinch one out of another car,” Jimmy surmised. Sure enough Teddy reappeared with a DVD box in his hand and promptly disappeared into the manager’s office.
“I’m really uncomfortable with all this,” I told Jimmy.
“If he messes me about any more I’m going to walk,” Jimmy spat.
“Shouldn’t we be talking to the sales manager?”
“Have you seen him?” Jimmy asked incredulously.
I turned to see a lumberjack trudge past. “You can’t mean that man with the walrus moustache, flannel shirt, torn jeans and cap with ear flaps.”
“Oh boy,” I said, not as in OH BOY! but as in oh help.
We were both gripping the arms of our chairs ready to bolt for the door – angry, cold, frustrated and heads fizzing with the raucous inane showroom TV when the finance manager appeared. He was well spoken, clean shaven, wearing a white shirt and a tie and led us into his professional looking office. He quickly took us through all the details of our purchase, came up with an exact price, then congratulated us on our new car and extracted a check for the deposit from Jimmy.
You didn’t really think that was the end of the story did you? Oh no . . . . . to be continued.