The gong show: Bringing dad-in-law along for the ride

My new book, The Man in the Garlic Tuxedo, which is about my father-in-law, will be released soon. I hope this column, which does not appear in the book, whets your appetite. 
Next week I'll be posting a sneak peak directly from the book.

My father-in-law, Tony, recently accompanied me to the local car dealership. This is why.

Initial salesman: (with semi-strong accent) Hi, can I help you guys find a car today?

Tony: You are from the Philippines.

Salesman: Uh, yes, I am actually. How did you know?

Tony: Heh, don’t worry about me. My son-in-law needs a car.

Salesman: Okay. (to me) Which car are you looking for?

Tony: How is Manilla? Is it nice? How long have you been here, at this dealership?

Salesman: Three and a half months.

Tony: Oh. (licks chops)

We find the car I want. Unfortunately, the first salesman did not have authority to discuss numbers. Enter his manager, Phil.

Phil: (approaches a bit on the arrogant side, motions for first salesman to move out of the chair so he can sit down) Fellas.

Tony: (so disgusted with Phil’s attitude he doesn’t even bother to guess his ethnicity) Hmph.

Phil: (to me) So what kind of monthly payment are you looking at? You putting any money down?

Tony: Pffffffffffft.

Phil: I’m sorry?

Tony: We already discussed all this crap with Gary (not first salesman’s name). Why are you asking us again? What is your deal? Why is my time being wasted right now?

Phil: Okaaaaay, I’ll uh, be back with some numbers, alright guys?

While we wait, Tony begins telling me about a movie he saw the previous day. When Phil returns, Tony catches him through his peripheral but continues to tell me about George Clooney’s role in the movie while Phil waits, and waits, and waits. Finally, Tony turns to Phil.

Tony: Well … ?

Phil: Okay, I got some numbers for you. (slides sheet across the desk)

Tony: (looks at sheet, sits back in his chair and lets out exasperated sigh) Why don’t you go back there and see what you can do, okay? And let’s be serious here. (turns to me) Mike, can you believe this guy? Anyway, so the movie is really about art …

Phil leaves. A few minutes later a new person emerges, Phil’s manager, Corey.

Corey: Hi there Tony, Mike. I’m Corey. Nice to meet you both.

Tony: (impressed with Corey’s demeanor) Hello there, finally someone worth talking to! You seem to be … Irish, maybe? You have beautiful blue eyes.

Me: (in my head) Yikes.

Corey: Uh, thanks. Listen, I've updated the numbers here, and we’re really close to your bottom line, guys. But it seems like we’re the ones making all the movement here. You gotta meet us, if not halfway, just a little bit, ya’ know? We’re talking dollars and cents at this point. Mike, can you put just, say, $300 down so we can get to where you need to be?

Me: (mistakenly interprets ensuing five seconds of silence as license to speak) I guess I could do th—

Tony: No, he cannot. Despite what Mike has just said, he would rather not, cannot actually, do that. Please go do what you need to do so we can make a sale. I like your haircut, by the way.

Corey leaves, comes back and congratulates us, and hands me a mallet to bang the dealership’s sales gong, which scares but also pleases Tony to no end. A long while later, we are finally invited into the leasing manager’s office. There, the leasing manager tries to upsell us on additional coverage and, in doing so, misinforms us that the payment we had agreed to did not include tax. This sets Tony off to the point that the leasing manager’s manager—everyone at this dealership is someone’s manager—has to intercede. Steve, when he arrives in the office, thinks he recognizes Tony from somewhere.

Steve: Good afternoon, gentlemen. (looks at Tony) Hey, I know you. Did I sell you a car a few years ago?

Tony: (in stride) Absolutely! For my uh, daughter, I think. It’s Fred, right?

Steve: No, Steve.

Tony: That’s right, STEVE!

A few minutes later, I had additional coverage for free and my initial lease payment was waived because we were, apparently, repeat customers.

We took my new car directly to P.F. Chang's at Tony’s request, where we ordered beers at the bar and toasted to Fred.

Note: This column appears in the 4/10 issue of The Glendale Star and the 4/11 issue of the Peoria Times.