“Salsa Red Pearl.” Kind of a smoldering red that seemed to glow at night. How sexy is that? I just had to have it; getting one became my obsession. I searched the dealers in metropolitan Washington, D.C., and I quickly realized that I wasn’t the only one obsessed with getting that truck: there weren’t any in that color in the entire area, none at all, save at one dealer. You know how they tell you not to shop for groceries when you’re hungry? Well, I was hungry. Very hungry. Actually, I was in love… . I sat down, centered myself, and strategized. This lot was my only shot. I had to make it count I drove to the dealer on a sunny Friday afternoon. I sat down across from the salesman, a nice enough guy named Stan, and told him how gorgeous the vehicle was. He offered me the usual smile—he had me, he thought—and mentioned the sticker price on “that beautiful vehicle”: $36,000. I gave him an understanding nod and pursed my lips. The key to beginning a haggle is to rattle the other guy ever so gently. You do it in the nicest way possible. If I could thread that needle, I had a good chance at getting my price. “I can pay $30,000,” I said. “And I can pay it up front, all cash. I’ll write a check today for the full amount. I’m sorry, I’m afraid I just can’t pay any more.” His smile flickered a little bit at the edges, as if it were losing focus. But he tightened it down and shook his head. “I’m sure you can understand we can’t do that. The sticker price is $36,000, after all.” “How am I supposed to do that?” I asked deferentially. “I’m sure,” he said, then paused as if he wasn’t sure what he’d meant to say. “I’m sure we can figure something out with financing the $36,000.” “It’s a beautiful truck. Really amazing. I can’t tell you how much I’d love to have it. It’s worth more than what I’m offering. I’m sorry, this is really embarrassing. I just can’t do that price.” He stared at me in silence, a little befuddled now. Then he stood and went into the back for what seemed like an eternity. He was gone so long that I remember saying to myself, “Damn! I should have come in lower! They’re going to come all the way down.”
Any response that’s not an outright rejection of your offer means you have the edge. He returned and told me like it was Christmas that his boss had okayed a new price: $34,000. “Wow, your offer is very generous and this is the car of my dreams,” I said. “I really wish I could do that. I really do. This is so embarrassing. I simply can’t.” He dropped into silence and I didn’t take the bait. I let the silence linger. And then with a sigh he trudged off again. He returned after another eternity. “You win,” he said. “My manager okayed $32,500.” He pushed a paper across the desk that even said “YOU WIN” in big letters. The words were even surrounded with smiley faces.
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- Fall '17
- English, Federal Bureau of Investigation