My Auction Hell

Jehovah Johnson
by Jehovah Johnson
my auction hell

Ed Niedermeyer is AWOL collecting bribes with hermaphrodite LeMons Judge Murilee Martin somewhere in – aha! – San Francisco. So Sajeev Mehta (bless his heart, why is he not judging?) tracked down our old friend Jehovah Johnson to write some fiction. Or was it the truth?

This is a story related to Steve Lang’s Hammer Time series. The following is an excerpt of something I wrote chronicling my two day tenure at an auction house down in the city. I’ve been in sales, particularly the auto industry, seemingly forever, so it’s not like I didn’t know what I was getting into. Several people thought this was creatively written, so I’m submitting it to you guys; post it, laugh at it, whatever you wish. Your website is great. Thanks and pull up a chair…

So I get there on Day 1, pumped – there’s about 500 cars outside, in various states of disrepair and readiness for sale but nevertheless. Go in, introduce myself, etc etc. I’ve officially arrived and am ready to solve your problems was the general tone. Met everyone, typical car environment segregation – males running the place/in sales with some excellent females on the phones and handling the accounting/secretarial – some serious talent was present in the back office. This is going to be fun, I thought.

Find my office, which turns out to be in the basement and contains a Commodore 64 and an abacus as sales tools for me to use. No big deal, I thought, they’ll set me up in due time – this is a big corporation like ADESA after all and it took me 3 days just to get a password to turn on my computer when I started there years ago. Besides, this is supposed to be an outside sales deal so I won’t spend much time here anyway. The sales manager breezes in:

“You’re the new guy.”

“Yeah, good to meet y…”

“Listen, I don’t care if you’re Pope John Paul II as it relates to sales. As far as I’m concerned you’re @#$% on a stick until you show that you can move metal.” He exits stage left.

I look at the other sales guy who’s been there about 3 years. “Welcome to ADESA!”, he says wryly and scuttles out the door. The rest of the morning I wander around the place trying to figure out how the whole show works, who does what, etc. They had sent me a 2 page training manual detailing what they were going to train me on each day, but by this time I’m starting to doubt its validity.

Noon rolls around, and I’m back in my office looking at the yellowed Mitel phone dating back to the Regan era. One of the hotties from HR shows up and hands me about a dozen sheets of paper. “Sign these”, she says, leaning over the desk, causing the the double Ds to rest at eye level. I look at them (dividing my time between the papers and the DDs), some banking information – usual – and … what’s this? A new job description?

“That’s standard,” she says, “Don’t sweat it. They make everyone sign one here. Bring it up to my office when you’re done.” She bounces away.

Man, I don’t know if they didn’t expect me to read it or not, but what they hired me for was most assuredly not outside sales, as advertised online and in the interviews. My “new” role was to – get this – make sure the cars were ready for sale, follow up on some non-payers, and resolve If Bids. If Bids are what happens when, say, a Silverado crosses the block and the seller is looking for $17K and the bidding only goes to $16K. It would be my job to phone the seller, convince him to either take the lower price or negotiate some sort of deal. Not what I signed up for. Plus, there was a new salary structure buried in small print on Page 9. I was furious.

So I march upstairs to confront Mr. Sales Manager, who cuts me off before I can get to his office. He looked greasier than a KFC Double Down.

“What the #$%^ were you doing out in the yard without a safety vest on?” (remember that I was travelling around the place, providing my own self with the training they had said they were going to). He pokes me in the chest.

“Safety vest?” Keep in mind that I’m used to dealing with characters in the auto industry, but this guy is mental.

“I can fire your &$% for that and don’t think I won’t do it.” He clips me, yes clips me, in the back of the head.

So by this time I’m ready to take his head clean off his body but I stuff my now clenched fists into my jacket pocket and storm out. I don’t remember the drive home. Relate this story to wife, who is equally horrified. First thing in the AM I call my old boss and get my old job back. But I am not going to let this slide. Off I go to ADESA on Day 2. The Sales Manager starts ragging on me again when I get there. I look at him.

“Listen buddy, I’m twice as tall as you but only half as ugly. Don’t *&^% with me today.” The entire office goes silent. It’s clear no one’s ever spoken to him in this manner before. I stand there, waiting for the inevitable, but at this point I don’t care because I have my old job waiting for me. Instead, he lets out what I can only describe as a Chewbacca Grunt, turns on his heel, and walks away.

I decided to stick around for the auction as I find those things fun. There were three going on at once; mass chaos but I loved it. That’s the part that annoys me; I would have enjoyed it immensely. But it’s clear there’s no freaking way I can work there. Before I leave, though, Stubborn Me appears. Remember those If Bids I talked about? That afternoon I squared up every single If Bid from that morning, purely to show them what I was capable of. I know I made them scads of money on those cars but that’s not the point.

Epilogue: I’ve realized that I’m many things but lacking in boring stories is not one of them, even if they are not quite at Baruth level – yet.

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2 of 11 comments
  • Areaman Areaman on Mar 25, 2011

    Heh, the Richmond BC ADESA public auction is a frequent Saturday morning event for us. Always fun to play with oddball cars without salespeople bugging you.

  • Accs Accs on Mar 25, 2011

    Alright.... I put my order in for a 20oz NY strip steak (cooked well-done), no fat with mushrooms on the side in a nice amt of gravy with about 3lbs of lumpy, with skins potatoes more gravy. The order FINALLY gets here.. and I start sinking my teeth into a really nicely cut 3" thick 20oz steak, long thin slices.. and eating slowly.. to savor it. I know there are bewbie shaped potatoes and plenty of gravy with mushrooms... ---- when the piece ends. Piece definitely isn't long enough, greatly wanted more. I hope more pieces like this are coming.

  • Dukeisduke I know it really isn't, but the central display looks like it's being held by one of those cheap spring-loaded mobile phone mounts. Poor interior design.
  • Fred Remember when radios were an option? Do you know you can use your phone to listen to any radio station in the world? This is just a whole waste of time.
  • Pig_Iron ASTC 3.0 AM radio was successfully demonstrated at CES. It is a common standard shared with terrestrial television, so the audio equipment is commonized for broadcasters. And no royalty fees to pay, unlike HDRadio which has been a less than stellar success. 📻
  • Art Vandelay Crimes that are punished with fines encourage abuse by those enforcing them. If it is truly dangerous to the public, maybe jail or give the offenders community service. People’s time tends to be very valuable to them and a weeks lost work would certainly make a high earner think twice. If it isn’t a big danger why are police enforcing it (outside of raising money of course). Combine it with a points system. When your points are gone you do a week imitating Cool Hand Luke.
  • Cha65697928 High earners should pay less for tickets because they provide the tax revenue that funds the police. 2-3 free speeding tix per year should be fair.