A recent visit to a Delco car dealer turned into a game of cat and mouse when the salesman kept trying to put his paws on me. Just another day in the age of too much familiarity!
Curiosity steered me into this local dealership to take a look at one of those quirky Kia Souls. I’ve been toying with the idea of replacing my reliable Honda CR-V. Some six steps out of my auto, a tall guy in a shirt and tie, mixed gray hair, popped up next to me.
I immediately made it clear that I was not buying at the moment; I had just buzzed in for a little Soul searching. But our introductions were barely complete before the salesman had his hand on my shoulder. The man sure could talk, but apparently he could not read body language. Somehow he missed the meaning of my sharp shoulder roll to remove his intrusive palm from my personal space. A series of quick steps backward to put some space in between us did nothing to keep him from creeping closer.
Moments later, as we continued to spar across the asphalt among the multi-colored used cars, he reached out and tried to pat my arm. While I peeked into the window of a metallic yellowish-green model, a hue that I told him was not my speed, he moved closer again and I considered pulling a rope-a-dope.
At a break in the action, the salesman backed off a minute to mention a new model I really ought to see in the showroom. Whew! Fight or flight, I thought, surveying the area that led from the lot to the dealership’s front door. My inner slugger made the call.
I pivoted and moved toward the entrance, keeping a couple of steps ahead of the guy. After I sailed through the swinging door that he politely held open, we went the distance across the showroom floor. When he opened the sparkling black Kia Soul’s front door, I hesitated before agreeing to sit in the driver’s seat. Fortunately, he did not jump in on top of me.
When he opened the back hatch and flipped a mat, he seemed to think that I might find what lay below of interest. The smartly designed, built-in coolers there were ideal for tailgating, he said with a grin and a twinkle in his eye.
Time to go, I thought, even as I assured him that I was not likely to need the tailgating feature. No problem, he assured me — maybe my lifestyle needs could be better met by a less-expensive Soul.
My old faithful 2006 CR-V was looking better and better to me.
So I thanked the guy for his time, accepted his business card and bolted.
Maybe his heavy-handed hustle was an act of desperation — an effort to survive a economy that’s been on the ropes. But this salesman — like other self-servers with business-related or personal agendas — was punching above his weight. Being friendly is one thing. Being overly familiar is another.
Ironically, his over-the-top approach produced the opposite of its intended effect. True familiarity brings people closer. Faux familiarity only breeds contempt.