Fun_People Archive
20 Jun

Date: Mon, 20 Jun 94 12:41:40 PDT
To: Fun_People

Forwarded-by: bostic@vangogh.CS.Berkeley.EDU (Keith Bostic)
Forwarded-by: (Guy Harris)
From: (eye WEEKLY)

eye WEEKLY                                                   June 2 1994
Toronto's arts newspaper                 every Thursday
NEWS & VIEWS                                                NEWS & VIEWS

                      BABY, YOU CAN TEST-DRIVE MY CAR

                             ALAN A. VERNON

If you don't own a car, errands can be a bitch to get done.  Sure, most
of us have a bicycle, but if you buy anything, getting home is almost
always a balancing act. 

Now there's a much more economical way to get around -- and infinitely
more splashy.  No longer do you have to depend on "the better way" or
the extravagance of taxis.  If you're daring enough -- only a real
schmoozer could pull this one off -- just visit your nearest car
dealership and ask to take a car for a test drive. 

It's really that easy. 

If I was going to do a feasibility study for this prize-winning scam, I
figured I should start right at the top.  So I paid a visit to the
closest Mercedes dealership -- after all, price was no object. 

Armed with the air of a high roller and a gold Amex card (which I was
ready to draw at any time), I sashayed into the showroom dripping with
jewelry.  I wore a pair of Armani linen shorts, a unique batik vest --
shirtless -- and Cole Haan white bucks.  You know the look -- that
eclectic mix of uptown chic and fashionably correct downtown grunge all
rolled into one.  Sophisticated, yet stylish -- confident with just a
touch of the whimsical. 

For the first few minutes, I looked over the floor models that ranged
from $40,000 to more than $100,000 for the two-seater convertible. 
Never once did I flinch at the prices, all the while trying to deal with
the fact that 3,000 of these cars are sold every year, and for the price
of the 300SL I could be kept very comfortable for up to...  what, three

Every so often I would dip my DKNY shades to the front of my nose -- the
appearance of bifocals always adds just the right amount of snob appeal. 

That's when the sales rep took his cue and approached me.  Now I know
some of you may be thinking that it wasn't really nice to waste his time
with my little charade, but most of them were just sitting at their
desks wrinkling their $500 suits. 

I explained to the agent that the car was to be a gift from my father,
and that we were looking in the $50,000 range.  I also made it quite
clear that I had my heart set on a new BMW, and that it was only at my
father's insistence that I had come here. 

Well, with turbo speed, dollar signs filled his eyes.  He was so elated
I thought he was going to jump up in the air and kick his heels like a
Toyota dealer.  I was quite surprised, however, that I wasn't offered a
cup of coffee.  He didn't even send out for a salad. 

Now for the sales pitch.  I was told all about the special treatment I
would receive when seen pulling up in one of these machines.  He went on
and on ad nauseam, when all I really wanted to hear was his offer to
take a test drive.  Finally I said, "How's the ride?" The next thing I
knew I was sitting in the leather power seat of a 300E 4MATIC at
$77,050.  Quite a contrast, when only moments before I had been on a bus
with 50 people I've never seen before -- sitting in a sticky orange
vinyl seat and having my nasal passages offended by the odor of cheap
loonie-store perfume that would serve better as a kitty litter
deodorizer.  And that's the better way?

With keys in hand, the stereo set at CISS FM, away I went.  I had only
about an hour for this fantasy joyride because if you don't return the
car within a specified time, your dream wheels turn into a pumpkin and
you'll probably find yourself taking a free ride in the back of a police

I drove in the most heavily populated areas and in the neighborhoods
where I would most likely be recognized, pretending not to notice anyone
who saw me.  At one stoplight, a friend came up beside me on his bike. 
Later in the day, I ran into someone else who said, "First we see you in
a Benz, and now you're walking down Yonge St.  like the rest of us --
that's so cool."

My hour was up, but I didn't want my fairy tale to come to an end.  So I
made up an excuse to do it all over again. 

When the salesman asked how it was, I told him that the ride was a bit
sluggish.  He then suggested a two-wheel drive rather than the
four-wheel drive I had just brought back.  Like candy from a baby. 

So away I went.  Only this time I visited a few friends and did a little
grocery shopping.  I even had time to stop for a take-out coffee and
hang out.  I spent almost two hours on this ride that rivals any
amusement park.  Best of all, it was free and I didn't even have to pay
for gas. 

To make this fantasy come true, all you need is a valid driver's
licence.  Unfortunately, they do make you sign an insurance bond that
makes you liable for the $1,000 deductible in the event of an accident. 
That may be enough to deter some people from this high-stakes game, but
not me. 

I told the salesman I needed some time to think it all over.  He told me
to come back any time.  Who knows? Perhaps I'll need another test drive. 

What a performance.  Just think, I imagined the freedom and I didn't
have to win the 6/49 lottery.  I wonder how many Mercedes dealerships
there are in this city? But, then again, there's always Porsche, BMW,
Lexus and Infiniti. 

                            Alan A. Vernon is Assistant Editor of X-tra.

Retransmit freely in cyberspace          Author holds standard copyright
Full issue of eye available in archive ==>  or            "Break the Gutenberg Lock..."         416-971-8421

[=] © 1994 Peter Langston []