The power of decency. - Kristen Kalp

The power of decency.

I bought a car yesterday.  It was an emergency purchase required by my old car dying a painful death.

So, I wanted to buy a USED (anyone who’s been in 7 car accidents before the age of 30 does not buy new) car.  Specifically, an automatic Volkswagen Beetle with a moonroof with under 80,000 miles on it.  Year irrelevant, so long as it fit within budget.  And time was, you know, of the essence.

I was just going to go to the dealerships of the cars listed on the internet when my Dad warned that they don’t always keep the listings current.  The car could be sold.  Silly me for thinking that your advertising the car means you still have the car.

I called dealerships.  And called dealerships.  And called dealerships.

Sold (with listing still active.)

Sold (with listing still active.)

Sold (with listing still active.)

Not sold!  But the VW Golf you’re asking about is red, not the Barbie Pink featured in the 18 photos that made you fall down laughing and then inquire immediately. (See dealer photo to the left.  I would have ROCKED the pink car.)

And then a ‘Let me check, I’ll call you right back.’

To me, ‘right back’ is not three hours later.  But he — we’ll call him Shady — did call back.  And Shady said: “Well, since we listed that car online, we’ve found a series of problems: a, b, c, d….r, q…x.  That’ll come to an additional $1700.  Oh, and the inspection has unfortunately run out, so we’ll need to do that, and an emissions test, and…”  I hung up.

The next dealer — we’ll call him Less Shady — said, “Oh, where did you see THAT!?” when I called.  On the interwebs.  Where you placed twenty-one pictures of the car.  “Um, can you hold?”  I hold.  Turns out that the car was photographed and posted online before it went to the mechanic, and the car is no longer for sale because it ‘isn’t up to dealer standards.’

Let’s recap.  I spent over eleven hours on the internet and making phone calls, but still had not actually found a car I could test drive.  And then I called Decent.

Decent dealership answered the phone with enthusiasm.  They directed my call, and then Chris answered.  Chris gave me his first AND LAST name.  He told me the price of the car and asked if I had taken a look at the Carfax.  (I had.  Dad should be proud.)  Turns out Chris had taken the trade-in of the car in question.  The lady grew tired of the Beetle purchased from the Decent Dealership a few years ago, so she got a new Beetle from the same Decent Dealership.

I bought the car.

All Chris had to do was answer the phone, give me his name, and confirm that the car cost what it said it cost online.

He didn’t have to be amazing, above and beyond, or extraordinary.  He just had to be Decent.

Sometimes we focus so much on being extraordinary, revelatory, brilliant, and mind-boggling that we forget the power of Decent.  Returned e-mail.  Returned phone calls.  Enthusiasm for the task at hand.  Listening.  Honest answers to questions.

I told Chris about my car-buying escapades and he laughed, saying, “I’d rather be lucky than good any day.”

Amen, brother.  But you made your own luck yesterday.

P.S.  Even strip clubs go out of business.