Every once in a while, you meet someone so unusual you don’t quite believe they’re real. I mean, you know you’re standing there talking to them and if you pinch yourself you feel it, so you know you’re awake, but there is still something about them that causes disbelief to descend on you like a shawl. Yesterday, I met someone like that.
We are in the market for a new car, as my stepdaughter Gabrielle will inherit my old one. So yesterday, while running errands in Lexington, my husband and I decided to stop off at a dealership and go for a test drive.
That’s where we met Scott, a man with a feathery haircut (business in the front, party in the back). Scott was prowling the aisles of shiny cars when we arrived and greeted us casually yet immediately, introducing himself as a salesman and squeezing my hand with a decidedly firm shake.
Scott smoothly took us into the showroom, where we outlined what we were looking for. Let me be clear from the get-go: I actually liked Scott immediately. He accepted that we were looking for a used car and didn’t push us toward a new one. He also didn’t push us toward a bigger car or a more expensive model. I liked that.
So we decided to take out one of the cars for a spin.
In the world of social interaction, I think we can all agree the test drive is a very strange experience. First, you’re essentially in an intimate space with a stranger, sitting so close you can smell each other’s breath. Second, you’re about to operate a machine that, in an instant, can become a death trap. Third, you’re having to dodge an aggressive sales pitch at the same time as you navigate a series of roads that range from highways to school zones, most of which you’ve never driven before.
But somehow, Scott made it all the stranger.
First off, the minute he learned our names, he incorporated them into the fabric of the conversation at every possible turn. This resulted in dialogue that resembled something like this: “And let me just show you, William, how it feels if we’re in sport mode. And now, William, let’s try for sports-plus mode. But, William, if you want comfort mode, this is the button you press. See how easy that is, William? Did you see that, Tara? Tara, you are going to love these features.”
At the same time he was addressing us, he was also insistent on addressing the car as a person. In this case, by using the pronoun “she.” So that train of conversation sounded like this: “If you push her, she’ll be a monster on the road. But she can be smooth. In the end, whatever your driving style, she really just knocks your socks off.”
The more he talked and displayed his affection for “her,” the more I got the impression that Scottie hoped the car would not only knock off his socks, but other items of clothing as well.
Scott performed the test drive by driving the car first and then letting William take the wheel. At the change-over point, in a sprawling parking lot, Scott decided it was time to show off the sound system in the car. So what did he turn to? With such confidence it was as if we had requested it?
Asked “her,” his voice a caress, to turn it to the Watercolors station.
For those of you who don’t know, the Watercolors station specializes in smooth jazz. The song that was playing? “Delicious Curves.”
It seemed like Scott had been waiting to hear it all day. He didn’t actually start full-body swaying to the music, but boy if he didn’t want to. He did bob his head a little, causing his gentle mullet to swish on the collar of his polo.
By the time we got back to the showroom, Scott had provided us with an experience so unforgettable that I doubt that we will buy a car from anyone else, if only so we can spend more time to see what he does next. In the meantime, little Gabrielle continues to learn how to drive.
Coming next week: Surviving driving lessons.