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Entry Date: 10-15-2022 - Courtesy, hmmm - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

Since I am traveling, I’m going to get back into the story of my working career. As you may recall, I talked about Easy Street last. It was in September, I think, of 1995 when Easy Street finally closed. I got the stuff I wanted from there and locked the door for good one day after Steve told me things were done.

I harbored no ill will towards Brian and Steve. They did the best they could, and the shop had run its course. I was not able to buy it or keep it going and at the time, I didn’t want to do so. I was pursuing my degree and had student loan money to keep me solvent for a while. Funny how I’m still paying for those days now.

Not funny but what did I know then?

After a couple of months of being a man of leisure, it was time to get back to work. My buddy, Aaron, was sharing our band room and told me that Courtesy Chevrolet, where he worked, needed people. I think it was $7 an hour to start or something like that, maybe $7.50 and I applied for the job of lot attendant. I was 26 years old, and I needed to do something.

I worked for the used car department for two guys named Paul and Mike beginning in early December of 1995. They were decent dudes and for the most part, they left me alone. Paul was a small guy who kind of reminded me of Joe Pesci, in a way, especially if he looked more like the guy who played the fight promoter in the first Rocky movie. Mike was a handsome fella who drove a giant truck. He kind of looked like Gary Sandy from WKRP in Cincinnati.

I was a bit older than the other guys and spoke English, so I had it relatively easy. I was able to work around my school schedule and get 40 hours per week. Overtime was also there if I wanted it and I did, so it wasn’t uncommon for me to get sixty hours or more. I enjoyed the larger paychecks, for sure.

The job was super simple. If a salesman needed a car pulled, I went and got it. If they needed help with a used car, I did what was asked. Sometimes there was not much to do so I went out to the back lot and made sure the cars were parked in straight lines. A lot of the time we just figured out ways to make ourselves scarce.

As a lot attendant, we were about the lowest people on the totem pole so most of the people who worked at Courtesy tended to ignore us. I liked that. It allowed me to pick up a lot of information about what it was like working at a dealership and be helpful to customers. I realized quickly I had no interest in selling cars. It wasn’t uncommon for salespeople to try and talk me into joining them, but I didn’t want to work 60-70 hours a week with nothing guaranteed.

I also knew I couldn’t sell someone a car they couldn’t afford.

A number of people I worked with had zero scruples when it came to other people’s money. The finance people would laugh about how they offered someone who qualified for say, 4% interest, a significantly higher interest rate because most people didn’t know what they could qualify for on their own. If they got someone who qualified for 4% to sign for 7.5%, the finance people would get a nice fat commission.


I know, I know. I admitted to bilking the army out of money. How does that make me different? Maybe I wasn’t. Looking back, I took a nice ride on Courtesy’s dime by racking up OT that paid me time and a half and double time on weekends when it wasn’t really necessary. Nobody was forcing me to work overtime, usually, I just stayed on the clock. They liked having us around.

I got to drive a bunch of cars that I wouldn’t have ever driven. I especially enjoyed the corvettes. They were a lot of fun to drive, but we didn’t get to drive them very much. It was a bit nerve wracking when we would have to move a car out of the showroom because there was always a crowd of people watching to see if you fucked up, but I never did.

I did scrape a car once that was parked almost right up to a fence in the lot, but a guy named Larry who worked in detailing helped me get the scratch out. That guy was a very interesting cat. He was a Jehovah’s Witness, but he never preached. In fact, we had a number of great chats about the meaning of faith.

On the weekends when there were no managers around, we would play home run derby in the back lot. We had a wiffle bat that was wrapped in duct tape, and we would try to hit tennis ball off the big wall that had the parts warehouse on the other side. It was a lot of fun. Occasionally a ball would hit a car, but it never did any damage. It’s amazing we never got caught doing that.

At some point, I found a label maker in one of the many supply closets that were around the dealership and started making little messages to stick places where I thought they would be almost subliminal. I would put things like “Can you really afford this car?” or “Never trust a salesman.” I also liked to put the word “Conform” places. This got brought up in a staff meeting once but no one looked in my direction.

I worked as a lot attendant for about nine months before they offered me a job in the alarm bay. I’ll have to dig into that job in the next edition.

See you tomorrow.

It's quite a sign. Imagine seeing it every day.

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