Tag Archives: new york

On Jobs, or In Defense of the Used Car Salesman

I like to consider myself a seasoned New Yorker.  I like to think that I’m not easily fazed, and that I can walk the city streets without giving anyone a second glance.  I like to think these things, but they are far from the truth.  I am a highly evolved individual, and I can’t help it if I am curious.

Last week, while in line at the bank, I noticed a man wearing a beautiful suit on his body and a long, oily, braided rat tail on his head.  It was a Tuesday at 10:00 AM, and I immediately thought:

“What sort of job could possibly necessitate the wearing of a suit and yet permit the wearing of such an outrageous hairstyle?”

Expensive suit

 +

Rat tail hairstyle

= How the heck do you make a living???

I quickly ran through a list of possibilities in my head:

  • Prison breaking consultant
  • Exotic animal salesman
  • Circus owner
  • Treasure hunting venture capitalist
  • Professor of quantum physics
  • Spokesperson for the Hare Krishna
  • Motivational speaker for the video game industry

I came to the conclusion that this guy was awesome, and that whatever it was he did for a living was probably something that I could get into.  I had some time to kill, and so I decided to tail him for a little bit (pun intended).

After making his deposit, we walked north a couple of blocks and headed into a bodega.  I rummaged through the Doritos, inconspicuously, while he bought a falafel.  I analyzed this to be further evidence that I was dealing with a worldly individual, and the fact that he gobbled it down so sloppily – seemingly unbothered with the tahini sauce drizzling from his chin– led me to be almost certain that he’d spent time in the developing world, where napkins were a luxury he had learned to live without.  At this point, I had to reconsider my initial question:

“What sort of job could possibly necessitate the wearing of a suit and yet permit the wearing of such an outrageous hairstyle and a face full of dried up tahini sauce?”

I could only think of one answer:

  • One where he was the boss

I was becoming more and more enthralled with this guy, and so you can imagine my disappointment when we ended up at a used car dealership.  This was far from the glamorous life I had expected for my new friend.  I wondered why someone of such obvious aristocracy would choose such an average employment.  It just didn’t make any sense!

After a few short moments of being utterly flabbergasted, I realized that I was being judgmental.    Aside from the nightmares that Matilda had given me, I had never had any personal experiences with any person from this profession.  Used car salesmen get a bad rap, and I was being that dumb sidekick kid that follows the bully around.  I was being totally uncool.  Who was I to say that this means of living was not worthy of the thrill and adventure that my new friend obviously demanded?  For all I know, it could be the most exhilarating trade out there.  After all, it can’t be easy.  I mean, anyone with two feet and a talking mouth can sell a new car.  But a used car, now that’s a challenge!  It’s a risk!  It’s a role of nobility, only fit for the lover of the underdog!  Yes, I see it now!

As I watched my newest friend examine his teeth in a car’s windshield reflection, Emma Lazarus’ famous sonnet came to mind:

“…Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

This man was doing for cars what America did for immigrants in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, and that I can respect.

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