Reluctantly selling the perfect car

Kevin Cowherd

July 01, 1992|By Kevin Cowherd

I am currently in the process of trying to sell my car, which involves the usual amount of lying and deception.

Fortunately, I have no problem with lying and deception; the two have always been second nature to me, like breathing and eating.

There are days, in fact, when I spend vast stretches of time, six and seven hours, without speaking the truth even once. And as far as swindling goes, well, everyone is fair game, including nuns and small children.

So I feel good about the chances of selling this car -- particularly if the buyer is not very bright or vulnerable in some other way. Visually impaired, say.

You didn't ask, but the reason the car is for sale has nothing to do with how it's running, which, believe me, is like a top.

No, what happened is this: Despite making the kind of salary that compares favorably only to a child's lemonade stand, I went out and bought a new car.

This was totally unplanned. One minute I was driving by this car dealership, the next minute a small cloud descended around my head and I was signing a piece of paper while a half-dozen salesmen in loud sport coats elbowed each other and snickered in the background.

The new car plunged me even deeper into debt than usual.

Naturally my first thought was: somebody around here needs to get a second job. So I looked in the newspaper and found a job on a loading dock that would be absolutely perfect for my wife.

You couldn't beat the hours -- midnight to 4 in the morning. Plus you didn't have to lift anything heavier than refrigerators and file cabinets, that sort of thing.

As I said, it sounded perfect for her. But every time I brought up the subject, we got in an argument. So I give up. Don't ask me how we'll make the payments on this new car.

Anyway, now I have to unload the, um, quality automobile I drove previously.

My first step was to place an ad in the classified section of the local rag.

Almost every single car ad in there said something like: "1990 Camaro. Excellent condition. Low mileage. Loaded. Greatest car ever built."

So to make my ad stand out, I had them write: "1980 Toyota Corolla. Formerly owned by Pope John Paul II. $600."

Legally, we're probably on shaky ground here. But you worry about things like that when the time comes.

The problem with selling your car through a newspaper ad is that you have strangers -- some of them clearly disturbed -- showing up at your house at all hours.

I came out of the house the other morning when suddenly this figure lunged at me from near the garbage cans.

My first instinct -- as it is whenever I'm confronted by members of the general public -- was to do a quick shoulder roll onto the lawn in case he popped off a few shots.

Then I ran down the down the street screaming: SOMEBODY CALL THE POLICE!"

But this guy kept running after me. And he was fast, very fast, maybe a former track star, and he was yelling: "BOTSCAR! BOTSCAR!"

It was fairly obvious that I'd been marked for death by some lunatic cult, whose assassins used daggers and the signature cry of "BOTSCAR!"

Finally, after a couple of blocks, it dawned on me that he was screaming: "I'M HERE ABOUT THE CAR!"

I was going to have him arrested for scaring me half to death. But when the cops came, they said you couldn't arrest someone for being a jerk and shouting gibberish. And you wonder why the country is going to hell in a handbasket.

Anyway, in addition to cult members, we've had several other unannounced visitors, all the type of people you'd want to run through a metal detector before letting into your home.

The other problem with selling a car is that potential buyers expect you to be knowledgeable about the car.

This one ol' boy was checking out the car the other day, and I knew he was trouble from the get-go.

Not only was he wearing bib overalls and a John Deere hat, but he was one of these people who insists on seeing the engine first -- like I might have taken it out and hidden it in the basement.

Anyway, he popped the hood and poked around for a couple of minutes. Suddenly he sent a stream of tobacco juice flying (which caught my shoe, thank you very much) and said: "She burn a lot of oil?"

"Geez, you got me, Tex," I said. "There's no black tornado following me around on the road, if that's what you mean."

Look, I can barely work the gas cap, never mind worry about how much oil we're burning. All I know about cars is that you get in and drive them until they break down, then you find something else to drive.

What I do know is that this is an excellent, excellent buy.

You have my word on that.

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