It is a warm Indian summer day in November as I stand in the lot of the newly formed Government Motors dealership, approved by a new law requiring everyone in America own a car by January 1st. I walk carefully around, looking at the offerings to those yet to purchase. The Rolls Royce Phantom ($400k base model) gleams in the sunlight. A Mercedes S63 AMG ($163k) parked close by; sleek and classy lines run the length. As I turn, a Bugatti Veyron ($2.4Mil) sits waiting to have a new owner experience the fastest car in the world. The paint is so deep you can see into your own soul. The engines hum with enough power to make your heart skip a beat. I dream of pushing these fantastic machines down Audubon 8 (between Stuttgart and Munich in Germany) at speed few have experienced. Sitting in one of these fantastic machines is more “putting it on” than “riding in it”.
The salesman says to me as I walk past each one “These cars are not complete yet, but when they are they will reduce accidents, lower costs for everyone, and eventually make life as we know it better than ever”. I asked when they would be complete. He says that they are still building the steering columns; they should be done by December 1st. The price tag on each is enough that if you have to ask, you can’t afford it; I asked.
Knowing there is no way I could eat, live, or exist owning one of these cars I started back to my 1983 diesel Mercedes. It needs a paint job. Three of the windows don’t work. The transmission shifts badly in second. The air conditioning is rolling down the window that does open. The rust on the rear quarter panel has stopped, for now, however it starts and runs every day. The brakes are good, the steering is solid, and all the lights work. I bought it for its longevity and durability. The engine only had 110,000 miles on it when I bought it, and for a diesel that is just getting started. So, for a utility car this is the perfect match; it gets me to work and school with very little problem. My car gets 27 miles a gallon, I paid $1,500 cash, and it will last another 20 years. I am happy with my low maintenance, durable, reliable car.
The salesman stops me as I reach for my door, saying the manager needs to see me. I tell him there is no way I could afford any of the cars he has to offer. He insists. I look past his shoulder; a security guard is moving to where we are standing. Clearly they intend to keep me there. I agree to see him. Escorted by the security guard on one side and the salesman on the other, we pass through a few doors to the manager’s office. He insists that I sit down. A contract has already been written and my name on the line. He begins to tell me about the fantastic cars he has available for me. I explain that there is no way I could afford even the steering wheel on any of these cars. He continues without hearing me, telling me about the safety benefits having one of these luxury vehicles. I tell him that the Mercedes I have now keeps me very safe, and thank you, no. My refusal does not faze him. He talks of the performance and good looks of the cars. I agree with him and explain that looks and performance I am familiar with, but there is no way I can afford the vehicle. He thanks me for deciding to purchase the ‘Bronze’ Mercedes S63, it is a great choice and pushes the contract to me. Looking down at the contract, the payment is almost my entire monthly check. He says “It’s the minimum car available, but you can have the ‘Silver’ Rolls Royce or the ‘Gold’ Bugatti instead.” I told him I would like to read the contract first. He says “You can read it after you sign it”.
The manager proceeds to inform me that the new law says that my car is inferior. I must purchase one of his vehicles because it is better than what I already have; my car is a junk car. I tell the manager that I am satisfied with the “junk” Mercedes I own and remind him that the President told the public that if they like their car then they can keep it; I would not have to buy a new one. His head shot back and laughed hard. After composing himself, he said that if I purchased the car this year then I could keep it. Because I had purchased it four years ago, it just would not do. I asked why there would be any difference from four years ago to one year ago on purchasing the same thing. He said it had to do with the purchase contract I signed; it didn’t have language concerning lifetime coverage for flat tires, oil changes, and tune-up’s. I told the manager that the cost of such a contract would be outrageous; I could not afford such luxury. He informed me that the new law says that I must have these things for my safety and the safety of others. “It is the socially responsible thing to do. See, if everyone has a new safe car, no one will get hurt.” I told him I could not afford to get “hurt” because I could not afford driving the car in the first place. The coffee he was sipping on almost shot through his nose he laughed so hard. Looking at me with a hint of indignation he said “Son, it is the law. You don’t have a choice.” His eyes turned to anger “Sign the paperwork.” The security guard moved his hand to his Taser; the salesman backed up to the door.
To be continued.