I received a letter today from a Honda dealership in Hillside, NJ. There were two pieces of paper in the envelope. One was a “printout” of an email from the General Manager to his salesman and the other was a “handwritten” note from the salesman to me. Personally! I know! I did feel special!
Apparently they desperately needed to purchase my 2005 Honda Pilot which has 150,000 miles on it or a 2003 Sonata, which I thought at the time was a classical record that Willie Nelson recorded in his tour bus while it was up on a lift getting the tires rotated. Turns out a Sonata is just another car made from an outfit called Hyundai.
I’m still not sure why the Honda dealership needed my car specifically but believe me, I knew it must have been important otherwise they would not have taken the time to write to me personally. My first thought was that Honda lost the recipe or whatever they call it for how to make a 2005 Pilot and needed my car so they could send it back to Japan and reverse engineer it but as you can see in the letter, they’re very vague about their reasons. Maybe you can help me figure this out.
Here are the letters. I blocked out the names of the guys who wrote the notes, not for their sake, I just wanted to give this post an “All The Presidents Men” kind of vibe to add to the suspense and air of mystery.
Ok, email letter #1 which sets the stage:
Are you still with me? Apparently the General Manager needs a 2005 Honda Pilot pretty badly and in this letter, which I’m sure he never wanted me to see, he’s clearly turning the heat up on his minions. So, if it wasn’t to reverse engineer the recipe, why else would he require a ten year old car which is like eleven years old in dog years? Perhaps the GM needs the car for himself, I reasoned. Perhaps he lost his own 2005 Honda Pilot in a poker game.
What if he thought he had the hand to end all hands and cavalierly tossed the keys to his 2005 Honda Pilot into the kitty? But when it turned out one of the other players had a pair of threes and the GM’s hole card was the card that contains the rules for card games on it, he knew he had lost and his wife would know something was up if the next morning he suggested that instead of taking the Pilot, she take the bike to work because he was very concerned about her cholesterol.
But in much the same way Republicans view global warming, this was all conjecture on my part, and while my scenario was quite plausible, I had no real proof that the General Manager was married. However, this much I knew. The GM was desperate because he started putting pressure on his own guys to deliver.
Ok, letter #2. From the General Sales Manager guy. This is where it gets even more intriguing.
Make sure you ask for me personally! There were three exclamation points in his letter which if my recollection of “Eat Shoots Prays, Loves and Leaves” is accurate, that means he wanted me to know that his letter to me was important and perhaps even a matter of life or death or even worse — an urgent plea to help him avoid repaying his recoverable draw from the last six months.
Wow. I was convinced this poor guy was being strong armed and I felt it was my duty to help him in any way I could while at the same time, making sure the General Manager would learn a valuable lesson in the process. So I wrote them back. But as I was writing the letter, another thought popped into my head. Aren’t car salesmen notorious for being a little shaky in the ethics department? Is it possible that the General Manager and the General Sales Manager were in cahoots and had some sort of ulterior motive? Was I to be the fall guy like Elisha Cook in “The Maltese Falcon” but with a lot more hair on my head at least in the places where I can still see it without having to use two mirrors?
The more I thought about it and the more my wife screamed in my ear as she read the letters over my shoulder that the whole thing was a sham to get me on their lot and to sell me a new Honda, the more I thought this was a sham to get me on their lot to sell me a new Honda!
So that’s how it was. Maybe this was an opportunity. Maybe I could turn the tables on them and perhaps score a victory for all the little people out there who hate purchasing automobiles because they still haven’t built vending machines that would allow you to buy an automobile without having to talk to anyone who works in the automobile industry first. I decided to write back.
And if you’re wondering, I really did send it.
Letter #3. From me:
Hi (name removed to continue with sense of intrigue),
I received a letter from you with an email from your boss about his need to get his hands on a 2005 Honda Pilot. Sounds like you are under a bit of pressure from Mr. _____! I don’t know why bosses have to be that way. I found his email to you to be very curt and somewhat condescending with the whole “We talked about this before” thing. I bet he’s not really a trained manager, just a real dogged sales guy who kept hitting his numbers so they had to move him up the ladder somehow to keep him happy and to stop him from going across the highway and doing the same thing for Suzuki.
Anyway, your stressful work situation triggered a nerve in me, maybe it’s my lifelong hatred or deeply repressed fear of bullies, or maybe it’s just thoughts about my own mortality and leaving the planet a better place when I’m gone by helping a car salesman. I don’t know. Whatever it is, I want to help you.
Call it kismet! Your letter to me. Out of the blue. Unanticipated. It could have been lost and I would have never known you were looking for me and that we were meant to be together. Strictly in a business sense of course, and specific to selling a used car. I’m happily married, ____. I want you to know that.
So let’s talk about the car, and judging by the desperate tone of your letter, clearly the rarest of Japanese imports that have been streaming into America since the early 60’s. The 2005 Honda Pilot! This is like a 4-wheel drive, optional folding third seat in order to comfortably seat seven adults Cinderella story!
I don’t know how you knew but yes, I am the match, for I am still in possession of a 2005 Honda Pilot, and judging by the urgency of your letter, perhaps the only one in NJ or even all of North America considering ____’s note to you about granting his “permission to pay whatever you need to get these vehicles”.
In your letter you also state that you are looking for a 2003 Sonata but sadly I can’t help you there. The last arguably intact 2003 Hyundai Sonata I saw had a pack of feral dogs living in it and I’m pretty certain money is of little interest to them. I would imagine you might be able to get the car for a couple of pounds of ground beef assuming they haven’t already eaten the pink slip. Dogs will eat anything that isn’t chained down, believe me, I have one and I know. My dog eats sofa cushions the way eight-year-olds down Raisinets® at the movies! Anyway, if you do want to see the dog car, let me know. I can send you directions on Google Maps at least to get you to the edge of the swamp. The Hyundai dogs are on the other side of the swamp. You’ll have to rent a pirogue from there and paddle six miles or so to where you see the turkey vultures circling overhead. You can’t miss it. Bring bug spray.
So, let’s step into my office and see what we can do. How much did you want to pay for this car? Ha ha! The tables have turned, Mr. _____! Just kidding. Let’s do this haggle free.
If you can get me $67,999 for the car, that would be fine, although in all honesty, I hate to give the car up, we’ve been through so much together. Rain, snow, sleet, dark of night, several factory recalls. We even spent one night sleeping in the Pilot, five of us. Actually we started out camping but one of my kids mistook the shadow of a moth for a bat and ran screaming straight through the side of the tent that didn’t have a door in it.
Now before you make up your mind, I realize I am giving you a tremendous break, since your letter to me stated that “I have been given the authority to offer the highest possible amount for this vehicle”, which as anyone who knows anything about numbers –and I’m sure you do being a sales professional — knows that numbers or “amounts” can go hurtling straight past infinity. Look at our national debt, for example. One day it was a dollar and a half and now it’s $17,759,084,373,096.61! So you see with the invention of infinity, the highest possible amount you can pay me is whatever comes after googolplexians plus one cent. Unless that’s what you’re paying the guy with the 2003 Sonata. Then it’s two cents more.
That said, I’m not greedy. But if you do think I could get a little more, and I would truly appreciate your honesty and candor here, I’d like to get a quarter of a million dollars for my car, particularly because I just put in a brand new air freshener. It’s the one shaped like an evergreen tree, so you know I’ve treated this vehicle with kid gloves.
I’ll be home all week and am looking forward to your call and helping you to get on the good side of your boss, who, between us, may be in desperate need of therapy judging by his Machiavellian tactics and use of exclamation points. I’d watch your back, ____, Also, you might consider going on record with HR about this General Manager. If it were me, I’d start a paper trail.
All the best,
As of this blog post, I have not had a response to my letter nor have I received my check for $67,999 or a check for my fallback price of $250,000. Not a word. I can only assume someone higher up in the organization has been made aware that I am onto their scheme and she or he’s probably told everyone at Route 22 Honda to go to the mattresses until the 2015s come out. Anything changes, I’ll post again, but in the mean time, read every piece of mail you get from an automobile dealership very carefully after you’ve already thrown it in the trash unopened.
©2014 The Monkey Bellhop and John Hartnett