The car salesman definitely looked uncomfortable. He ran his forefinger between this collar and his neck, moving to his embossed VW tie, spattered with what looked like bits of Riley’s Chocolate Toffee Roll. He was sweating.
I’d just stated a fact. Seated there in the fancy showroom surrounded by logos, shiny paintwork, gleaming chrome and a slight whiff of testosterone, I told him I spent more time choosing my shoes then I did a car, particularly if they were specialist running shoes, it’s important to get that right, I’m a martyr to my feet.
Noel was wearing his inscrutable look. He’d turned down the offer of test drive, passing the keys to me. I’d tested out the revving and acceleration, in hindsight, maybe that’s why the salesman was sweating, I like to drive fast, I used to be a motorbiker.
Yes, we said. we’d take it, wrap it up and we’d pick it later, once we’d talked about cost. Once we’d gone through our good cop/bad cop routine. It’s a game, really, they say one price, you say another, they go upstairs to see their boss, or rather just disappear and chew on a Riley’s Chocolate Toffee Roll and come back with a tale of woe, accompanied with head shaking and sucking air through the teeth. Good grief, I had some serious faffing around to do, well away from car salesrooms, I could feel myself coming out in hives.
We agreed a price and I was ready for off. But there was the serious matter of the Auto Glym. The salesman insisted on giving us an illustrated talk, complete with PowerPoint and interpretive dance, on the staggering properties of this miraculous treatment which will repel dirt, ice and small animals. It would also keep the interior clean, he said in all seriousness. I was biting the inside of my cheek hard, there may even have been blood, I couldn’t help it, the desire to snigger was too much. Keep the inside of a car clean? The very idea.
So for £500 we could have this miracle and never need to clean the car again. Again? That implied a first cleaning <snigger>. Noel lifted his hand, no, he said, not interested. The salesman looked nonplussed, ‘not even if it was, say, £250?’. Noel’s hand raised again, the answer was the same. The salesman excused himself, clearly he needed another Riley’s ChocolateToffee Roll.
On his return, he had a proposal for us. ‘What if,’ he asked, ‘the Auto Glym was free? It’ll show as a cost on the invoice, but we’ll take it off the total cost, you’ll pay the same.’ Noel and I communicated telepathically, it’s something we do when we want to finish each other’s sentences. Yes, we agreed, they clearly had to please the Auto Glym gods. And anyway, the treatment came with a bag of cleaning stuff which I could empty and use for my running shoes. Result.
So hands were shaken and arrangements made to pick up the shoe holder and the new car, can’t wait, I’ll clean my shoes in readiness.