The 80’s were great for me, the TV program Dallas was at its height, it was unbelievably popular, and I had the good fortune of bearing a slight resemblance to one of the characters “Bobby Ewing” played by Patrick Duffy, I didn’t think so, I thought I was a lot better-looking 🙂 but lots of Women seemed to think I did.
I was out with my mates one night and on my way back from the bar when I was surrounded by a Hen Party, they were obviously living the latest Dallas Story Line and they asked me who I would choose between the 2 Women in Bobby Ewing’s life, Jenna Wade (Priscilla Presley) or Pamela Barnes Ewing (Victoria Principal), they were very drunk and quite insistent on getting an answer, if I’m honest, they were quite scary. I wanted to get away from them as quick as possible, So I said I couldn’t decide, I would have to become a Moron and have them both, one of them said “Don’t you mean Mormon?”, I had been married and I knew what I meant, so I told them that in my opinion, you would have to be a Moron to have more than one Wife.
A couple of weeks later I was signing up a customer, and I could tell that there was something wrong with him, he almost threw his deposit at me. I had tried to engage him in conversation and had gotten fed up with his one-word answers so I asked if I had done something to upset him, it was then he told me that he could have got the same car cheaper at another garage, but his wife had ordered him to buy it from me because I looked like Bobby Ewing. I felt really sorry for him, but not as sorry as I did when his Wife rang me a couple of weeks later to ask what aftershave I wore, apparently 2 weeks after I delivered their car it still smelled of Polo (that’s my Ralph Lauren aftershave not the Volkswagen) she preferred it to the stuff he used and she wanted him to start wearing it too.
I was in the final stages of negotiating with a rather elegant Lady who was buying herself a new car, she was also buying a little hatchback for her Daughters 21st birthday, there was still some wiggle room in the deal if she pushed me for mats and mud flaps, I was just ready for a trial close, and possibly a monetary or accessories compromise but surprisingly before I had chance, she said “I will buy them both so long as you agree to ask my Daughter out on a date when she picks her car up.
To be honest, I was going through a bit of a dry spell, and sales were a bit slow too, so even though I was only about 24 at the time I would probably have gone out with her Mother let alone her Daughter if it would have clinched a 2 car deal. One of the first things you learn in car dealing is if the customer thinks you have given in too easily they will keep asking for more and more, that’s usually why the Salesman chooses to “Go and see his Manager” he doesn’t need to, he just does it to make you think that you’ve asked for too much.
I knew if I agreed too readily to her request there was a slim possibility that she’d ask me to take her mother out too, I couldn’t pretend to go and get the Sales Managers permission so I did the next best thing, I leaned back in my chair and took a sharp intake of breath through clenched teeth, In car Sales, speak this means “Don’t Push Your Luck”. I was between a rock and a hard place. I knew I would have to take her Daughter out no matter what she looked like otherwise I would lose the deals, but just to show that I was no pushover and to save face I asked her if she had a photograph of her daughter that I could look at.
My worst fears were confirmed her Daughter was absolutely stunning! (Now I know what you’re thinking “Hang on Baz, Worst fears? She was stunning; WTF’s the matter with you?”) Well for those of you who haven’t seen the film “Fatal Attraction” or dated as many insane Bunny Boilers as I have, I will spell it out for you! if she’s beautiful and she has to rely on her mother to set her up with a date for her 21st birthday party, it means that she probably has a screw loose and is some type of Psycho. However, after seeing her photograph I decided to take a chance, and even though she hadn’t asked, I also decided to give her mats and mud flaps for free.
Everything went according to plan, and her Daughter was lovely, I really liked her. It was my Long Weekend off and we ended up spending most of it together. All was well till I went back to work and the Sales Manager called me into his office, unusually he wanted to know what I had been up to at the weekend and when I told him he suggested that it may be better if I were to stop seeing her, or I would need to find a job somewhere else.
No It wasn’t because we had some rule that prevented us from “fraternising” with our customers, it was because she lived too far away when the Sales Manager had done his routine Monday morning mileage check on our Demonstrators, he had noticed that mine had done 770 miles in the 4 days that I’d had it, and his vehicle “write down” budget would not sustain having a high mileage user on the fleet.
Depreciation and Running costs put an end to our romance, not exactly, Romeo and Juliet, I grant you, but they only killed themselves once, while my love life has died the death of a thousand cuts and they’ve all been delivered by my machete-wielding Mistress otherwise known as the Motor Trade.
There was a new model coming out in the Marque that I was selling and we were taking advance orders. Mrs Robinson (not her real name) was one of my first orders, but it would still be at least a couple of months before her car was delivered, we had a few weeks to submit the final specification to the manufacturer, but Mrs Robinson couldn’t decide and kept changing her mind, each time she did I would have to sit with her, change the order form and get her to sign it again.
She was spending nearly as much time at the garage as I was, my Boss was getting a bit fed up and the other salesmen had started to take the Mickey out of me, she was older than me and they had nicknamed her Mrs Robinson, every time she telephoned or pulled up on the car park someone would shout “Benjamin” it’s for you (a reference to the film The Graduate) unfortunately that was as close as I would ever get to being a Graduate.
It was a lovely summers day, the weather was fantastic and I was enjoying my day off when there was a knock at my front door, to my surprise it was Mrs Robinson, she explained that the person who was going to buy her car privately had changed their mind and she now wanted me to take it in part exchange, she thought the matter was so urgent that it couldn’t wait until the next day, there was no such thing as mobile phones in those days and she had persuaded one of the other salesmen (who was more than willing to cock me up) to tell her where I lived.
Long story short I ended up going out with her for the next few weeks until her new car was ready for collection. Much to the amusement of my work colleagues she arrived to pick it up with her Husband whose existence until that moment I had been blissfully unaware of.
I couldn’t believe it, I’d been used as a sex object, I’d earned commission, and I was due a new Demonstrator, selling cars was the best job in the World!