I’ve just gone through the process of getting a new car.  In a sanguine moment, I decided to let bygones be bygones and lease a German car.  After all, nursing a grudge requires a lot of  psychic energy and seventy plus years is close enough to the statute of limitations for wars, holocausts and such things.  I settled on getting a new Volkwagen Tiguan.  VW claims that the name “Tiguan” comes from  a combination of “tiger” and  “iguana”.  I kind of see where “tiger” might be a word you’d want associated with a car you’re marketing  but why anyone would want an iguana-like car is a mystery to me.  In any event, I did a little research and discovered that’s just a cover story anyway and in fact, “Tiguan” is German for “So… you have relatives living in Germany!?”

Undeterred, I went to the VW dealer and was assigned Gianluca as my salesman.  Since that’s a mouthful, I asked him what I should call him–he said, “Gianluca”.  So there I was,  me with my one syllable name up against four syllable Gianluca.  G looks like a younger version of Joey from Friends  but despite his callowness, I was clearly overmatched.  We entered into a negotiation that was like a dance; his moves included occasionally going to see his manager with whom  he was “going to bat” for me.  My move (I have only one) was sitting and waiting.  It’s as if in this dance he was Fred Astaire and I was…I was…well, I was me.  Which, if you’ve seen me dance is more iguana than tiger.

We ultimately agreed (I with him) on a price and features for the Tiguan and arranged for a delivery date. In car dealer talk, “delivery” means I come back to pick up the car…really, there’s no delivery involved at all.  A week later I returned to get the car and sign some paper work with Gianluca. All the while I was waiting for “the other shoe to drop” but none did.  And then just as I thought I was done, G said, “Now you need to meet with our finance manager, Vince, and sign your lease agreement”

I entered Vince’s office and then came that shoe I thought I had averted.  A size twelve.  Double EE.  Vince greeted me with, “So Mr. Stein, how are you going to pay for the $700 finance charge for your lease?” I quickly went into a diatribe I had prepared about how similarly we in the real estate business and car salesmen are viewed by the public; how we’re often seen as duplicitous and untrustworthy.  And how it’s up to us (Vince, VW and me) to do the right thing and change that image.  And how in the world could no one (Gianluca in this case)  have not  mentioned this extra charge. I went on like that for quite some time.   And then Vince responded with, “So… how to you want to pay for this?”  So much for my art of persuasion.

When I told this story to my friend, Kram, he said that I was naive and should have realized that even though it’s been a long time since the War, maybe it’s not long enough. And it’s very possible, he suggested, that this may well be some evidence that the Germans aren’t through with us just yet.

“Oh by the way…there will be an additional 400 Mark fee”


4 Responses to “Achtung!”

  1. Ray Says:

    Big Neil,
    I must admit that your stories continue to make me smile and laugh every (well, almost every) time I start to read them in the morning when I start my work day. For this I thank you.
    The images in this story are hysterical.

  2. iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

    …and I know how hard it is to get you to smile. thanks.

  3. news Says:

    When are you going to post again? You really entertain a lot of people!

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