In 2001 during an early evening with a piercing December chill, Jason splayed the salesman’s grin when Dad and Son showed up in a warm showroom. Well of course he’d be happy to let them try a new Passat, “but first can I get a copy of your license?”
Moments later, Jason pulled up to the glass front doors in a black B5. He hopped out and assumed the passenger seat. Ten-year-old Son scurried in past the back door and settled in the center of the backseat with a commanding view forward.
Despite his 30 minutes of interactive product training, salesman-Jason wouldn’t be the expert in the car that evening. He didn’t stand a chance against the ten-year-old in the back. That boy’s bedtime stories came from Consumer Reports and Road & Track.
As Dad secured himself in the driver’s seat with the Teutonic click of the seat belt, the boy was already reaching forward from the back seat to show off the seat heaters.
“You can roll it to turn on the bun warmers, see!? And look, if you move the lever to the side you can shift the gears like a manual car!”
“Son, put your seat-belt on so we can go,” Dad said over his shoulder.
Salesman Jason racked his brain for Passat arcana that would put the boy in his backseated place.
Jason prescribed Dad and Son an anemic test drive route with a quick hop onto and off of the highway. Soon, salesman and boy sounded like an old couple.
Salesman: “And this car has…”
Boy: “…190 horsepower!”
Salesman: “So you can get up the driveway when it snows …”
Boy: “…this car has four wheel drive.”
During the drive Jason had a difficult time getting a talking point or a question across without Son finishing the salesman’s sentence.
Salesman: “And if you move that dial up there…”
Boy: “…you can open and tilt the sunroof!”
Salesman: “And if you pull on the handle…”
Boy: “…it goes back into the roof softly!”
When the three rolled back into the dealership parking lot, Jason mustered as genuine an expression he could stomach, turned back and said, “Hey kid, you seem to really know your stuff. You probably know…”
Boy: “…more about this car than you do? It’s child’s play.”
By virtue of going to Road & Track night-school, Son knew more about the Volkswagen, and every other automaker’s lineup, than any salesman should ever need to know.
At the end of the day, Jason focused on selling to the front-seat driver when really he should have focused his efforts on the fifth-grader in the back.
Instead, the boy in the back settled on an Acura TL.