My father taught me many things, and one of the most important was to never judge a book by its cover. There was a grumpy old man in our neighborhood who never smiled and would barely acknowledge anyone when they said hello to him. Everybody called him Mr. Grouch. One day I said that I wondered why he was always in such a bad mood and why someone who acted that miserable all the time even wanted to be alive. It turned out my dad knew the man and his story and told me that during World War II his ship had been torpedoed and he had watched many of his friends burn to death before they could get off the ship or drown when they did. While he came through the ordeal physically unscathed, like so many veterans of so many wars, he carried psychological scars that nobody could see that were deep and painful. We never know what the person next to us is going through, just as we never know so many things about other people.
One of the easiest car sales I ever made happened soon after I went to work for the dealership. It was a cold, rainy winter’s day in Tucson (yes, they get them sometimes), and there hadn’t been a customer on the lot in hours when a Yellow Cab pulled in and an old man in bib overalls and a striped railroad cap got out. There were four of us salesmen on duty, and the other three didn’t want to go out in the rain to mess with the old geezer. So I went outside and said, “If you’re here in this weather, you must need a car.” He shook his head and said, “No, I need a truck. I come here every winter to get out of the cold, and I’ve got an old Ford that I keep in the carport. It hasn’t wanted to start the last two years and is giving me all kinds of trouble, and I’m tired of messing with it. Show me a nice truck.”
So I did, and he settled on a brand new F-150 that certainly wasn’t the fanciest truck on the lot, but there was no question that it would start when he turned the key. We went inside, and I was prepared to negotiate a deal with him when he said, “I have to get home, I’m taking a pretty lady to dinner and I ain’t got time for all that nonsense. Just tell me how much it is and I’ll buy it.” Figuring what the heck did I have to lose, I gave him the full retail price, and he said, “Sold. Will you take my check from back home in Pennsylvania?”
I wasn’t sure about that, so I went to ask the sales manager, and he told me to call the bank the check was drawn on and see if the old gentleman had enough money to cover the purchase. This was before the days of the Internet, so I had to have an operator find the telephone number of the bank for me in the little town of Palmyra, Pennsylvania. When a lady answered the phone there and I told her I was trying to verify funds on a large check and gave her the gentleman’s name, she asked me to hold for a moment. Then a man came on and said he was the bank manager, and he understood that one of their customers was there to purchase a truck and I needed to know if he had the funds to cover the check. I told him that was true, and he asked if it was an old guy named Harvey, with bib overalls and a railroad hat, and a chaw of tobacco in his cheek. I said yes, that was him. The bank manager said, “Son, if he wants to buy the whole damn dealership, give him the keys and I’ll guarantee the check. He owns half of Lebanon County.”
Well, all right then. We got the paperwork signed, Harvey handed me a check, shook my hand, and drove off the lot. The other three salesmen who didn’t want to go out in the rain were still sitting inside the showroom complaining about what a wasted day it was. Nope, never judge a book by its cover.
Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is a copy of the new hardcover edition of the RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, campground information including amenities at RV sites, a place for campground reviews, room to record activities, people met along the way, reminders of places to see and things to do the next time you’re in the area, and a page for notes for each day.
To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.
Thought For The Day – Some people dream of success while others wake up and work.