We used to always hang out together on the day after Thanksgiving.
Black Friday was a complete knockout when she was a young lady. Sexy, seductive, easy to please, and so damn smart! The two of us would go out shopping and pretty much knock out everything I could ever need for my cars before lunch. She was a true gearhead at heart, and for a long time she made my life easy. Oil change packages for $5. A gallon of coolant for a buck. Free spark plugs. She had an uncanny ability to find every item I would ever need for my family garage. With her small army of circulars and rebates, I could get it all for only about 20- to 30-percent of the retail price.
She… was… awesome!
My wife and friends would hang out with her as well. Everyone loved Black Friday for her fun and chatty nature. It wasn’t just the deals that made Black Friday so enticing back then. It was the experience of enjoying that one day when she was the true queen of retail America.
But then she had what could only be described as a mid-life crisis.
Imagine growing up in the modern day world and having no future.
No education. No upward mobility. No right to pursue a better life beyond just a few crumbs of financial sustenance.
This is the reality in most Arab countries and former Soviet republics. It’s a world where opportunities are almost non-existent and certain cliques and clans determine who has the exclusive right to get ahead.
I grew up traveling the world in a family business — the food import business, to be exact. I have learned that in the West there is a tendency to believe folks can overcome Herculean odds in the pursuit of that better life, whatever and wherever it may be.
That opportunity just isn’t there in these places where even geniuses can be damned to a life of a terminally squalid environment. It’s a shame. But what if instead of investing billions of dollars in armaments and other forms of support to these idiotic regimes, we tipped the scales of supply and demand a bit in favor of the billions of little guys and little girls?
She is a a 1989 Jeep Wagoneer with just over 200,000 miles and a fantastic maintenance history. With beautiful, thick leather seats and a working A/C system which is a huge deal here in Georgia, the old woody Jeep could only have been better if it had a stick and a four-wheel drive system mated to its iron-block 4.0-liter inline-six.
I started the bid at $700, a dealer who specializes in the Latino clientele bid it at $800, and then another fellow jumped in at $900. By the time bidding was at $1100, I waited a few seconds, and did a slicing motion with my hand which knocked it up to $1150.
A quarter of a century can yield an amazing level of improvements to a modern day car — but this isn’t always the case.
Take for example a 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air and compare it with the 1983 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera. Even back in 1983, a 1958 Bel Air could offer the keepers among us the enduring joy of a long-term relationship. That big block Chevy V8, even in the early Reagan era, could give you a fiendish ear-to-ear grin behind the wheel. The Cutlass Ciera on the other hand was a rental car from birth with the vapid empty soul of a parts bin beater. It would take a special masochist of an owner to make that a long-term keeper.
Twenty-two vehicles on the front line and not a single one of them a Volkswagen.
This wouldn’t be surprising if this were a used car lot or a new car store that sold a different brand, but this is Jim Ellis VW — the most successful Volkswagen dealership in the entire metro-Atlanta area.
How successful? They have two locations and sold Volkswagens every day for well over 44 years. This dealership was founded on day one with Volkswagens exclusively in their blood. No competitor in the southeast can come close to that level of enduring success.
So what does it mean when one of your most loyal dealers in the entire nation won’t even put your vehicles on their front line?
The alarms clocks ring. Both of them. Just in case I get any funny ideas.
I go through the semi-conscious motions. Clothes… suitcase… glasses… coffee… breakfast. By 4:15 a.m, I’m out the door and driving to the airport in a 21-year-old Geo Prizm. I figured that a 5-speed and a stark lack of noise insulation will keep me alert. Thanks to Atlanta’s penchant for using steel plates to cover up every possible pothole on the road, I am not disappointed.