Friday, December 4, 2009


Did you ever get the opportunity to watch a "pro" work. I don't necessarily mean an athlete or a prostitute, but some one who is beyond excellent in his or her job. Someone it is a true pleasure to observe. I did when I worked with the Silver Fox.

I have previously mentioned the low pay of the banking profession years ago and how I sometimes took a part time job to make ends meet. This particular part time job was with one of the largest new car dealers in Florida. I worked a couple evenings a week there as a receptionist.

The BAD thing about working for a car dealer was that I discovered a lot of the tricks of the trade. The GOOD thing about it was that I discovered a lot of the tricks of the trade. As a result, I am now a much better informed car buyer and quite wary of most salesmen. I may like them and would willingly break bread with them but know they will do whatever it takes to get my money.

Because I was young, flirty and friendly, the salesmen spent most of their down time around my desk telling their favorite stories and various tricks. It was interesting to watch each man work for there were no set patterns. They each had their own unique approach. They were actors without a stage.

The different types of salesmen were fun to watch. There were the "I'm your new best friend" types. The "I have a family also so I know what you want" types. The "snow you with stats and horsepower" types and the really good looking salesmen that gravitated towards the single women and vise-versa. Sex does sell.

I got to the point that when I saw someone on the lot or show room floor, I could tell which salesman would come striding out of his office to approach them. Each man had his specialty. All except the Silver Fox.

This man was glorious to look at. He was an older gentleman who had a thick, neatly barbered, mane of white hair which along with his cunning nature, earned him that nick name, the Silver Fox. He was tall, thin and very tan. He moved slowly but deliberately. There was no wasted motion. But his voice was what got me. There will only be few reading this who can remember, but Senator Everett Dirksen had the same voice. It was slow, low, rumbling and came from deep inside him. It assured the listener that the speaker was honest and wise. This was a man you immediately felt you could trust.

I enjoyed watching the salesmen roll out of their offices to snag a potential buyer. Silver Fox would just sit there calm and comfortable and stayed clear of the competition. When a man in stained coveralls would approach the building was when he would get up. The rest of the salesmen stayed put, thinking by the man's appearance that this was obviously a no-sale customer. Silver Fox would get the man some coffee, take him into his office and then proceed to sell him a fleet of 10 dually pickup trucks for his huge corporate farm.

He would just as quickly snag a man in ragged cut offs,no shirt and flip flops to sell that investment banker who was just back from a fishing trip, a Corvette. No one could qualify a customer like he could. He could smell a bank balance. The other sales men tried to copy him but their men in "coveralls" were generally exactly what they looked like. Some worker or retired farmer just wishful shopping who would look at every car and buy none. Silver Fox was an artist in his profession and he turned car sales into a craft.

While he was indeed a foxy salesman, what I admired the most was that he was also a caring individual. Even the times he would slip up and not get a sale, his sincere interest in each customer would manage to cultivate a new friend who later recommended him to someone who did buy. Regardless of the outcome, his customers got his complete attention. He never rolled his eyes behind a customer's back as the other salesmen often did. Eye rollers forget one thing. They person they are rolling their eyes about might not see them, but others do. Definitely a trust flushing action.

One of the best lessons I got from watching and listening to this man interact was never to judge someone by appearance alone. Sadly this was something I often had to relearn but those basics had been set by my parents and I got to see practiced by a man with snow white hair in a very cut throat business.

The Silver Fox once told me in his rumbling tones, "I always try to treat all I meet with respect and interest. That always frees my head and heart for a good nights sleep." That man never sported dark circles or bags under his eyes. He slept well.

Often I have failed to meet these high standards, but I keep on trying. Sometimes when I have a restless night with poor sleep, I think of him and laugh as I ask myself, "OK, who did you screw over today dummy?"

Is there someone in your life who set the bar high??


  1. Yes, not in the sales category but my profession as pharamcist. My last employer was amazing, at multitasking, as I was not.

    He could talk to a customer, answer the phone, type a Rx label while reading the prescription, often nearly illegible, at one time...and NEVER appear frustrated.

    Even though we disagreed on some topics, I had high regard for his one overwhelming virtue, extreme levels of patience and caring.

    He had an overwhelmingly successful independent business, holding his own with the big chains despite price differences which he kept reasonable but necessarily matching.

    Even when I retired and no longer cared for the profession, I sent referred persons to him. I understand his daughter will soon take over the business. I wonder if she inherited her father's talents.

  2. No one person actually, but two books did, "Prodigal Summer" by Barbara Kingsolver and "Gift From the Sea" by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
    I believe they made me "see" and be more appreciative in my life.

  3. I must agree with you that there are some guys and gals, but more guys than gals, who sell cars and make a good living at it and are well liked and community leaders.

    For every one of those there are the others who are always considered as low on the totem pole as low gets. Here where I live or in this town, a used car salesman is lower down than a preacher or an undertaker. I don't mind dealing with them but would rather just go push a button and wait for the car to pop out.

    Brookville Daily Photo

  4. I have a friend who has always set the bar high on friendship and integrity. I have known her since we were 6 years old and to this very day I have never heard her say a critical word about another person. When other girls gossiped or said unkind things about someone else my friend would always remain silent. Even her silence did not appear judgmental yet still set an example to aspire to follow.

  5. Hi Patti, YES---- my high school band director was the BEST around and this band director was a SHE---even back in the days when women didn't work outside of the home. Mrs. Mac (I've blogged about her) was fabulous. She always had winning bands--both concert and marching. I was so privileged to be in 'her' band. She was respected by all---and she was fabulous with discipline. When she talked, we listened. This was an example of someone who 'raised the bar' high--especially for other women in the workplace. She was truly amazing.

    I've never trusted car salesmen ---or salesmen in most any field. Most of them are just out to get my money at any cost... I do think that only certain people can 'sell' things. It's a gift that they seem to be born with--and no amount of training can help someone learn the gift of selling.

    Have a great weekend. We may get some snow.

  6. Nitwit,
    Multitasking wizards are like magicians to watch. They never lose their place.
    I do hope it was in the genes and that the daughter got some.

    Thanks, two more for me to look up and put on my list. It is those who rise above the masses with virtues we admire that catch our eye.

    Because he was a car salesman AND also a wonderful person was what made him stand above.They do have a bad reputation as a rule.

    Oh I love gossip squashers and you are right about silence being effective. Now I see why she has been in you life for so long.

    I do remember the post you did about her, I think more than once you have mentioned her fondly. We never forget those who really shine and help to steer our lives in the right direction by example.

  7. This is a beautiful description of some characters, Patti!
    Thanks for your wonderful birthday wishes! Yes time flies!

  8. Sounds like an interesting character.

  9. Lesson for everyone ! Love the way you write. You simply transport me into a different world & stump me with some wise words all of a sudden.

    Silver Fox - someone I'd have love to watch first-hand :-)

    Hmmmm.. One of my collegues always did that to me (raise the bar I mean). Not just at work, even with my writings , paintings etc. It pushes you to that edge doesn't it! I'm glad he does.. yes even now!

  10. Reader wil,
    Thanks wil, it is the "characters" in life that are memorable to me.

    When I realize it has been 40 years since I have seen him, I guess he really made an impression.

    Thank you. Don't people facinate you? I am never bored people watching. They can teach us so much.
    Blogging is a great way to work on your craft. Knowing someone is actually reading your words, makes you think a little clearer and work a little harder. I am so glad you have your friend to "raise the bar."

  11. At one of my first jobs I noticed a handsome young man who always knew how to handle a situation with professionalism, solid knowledge, kindness, and a clear moral compass. Since I'd grown up with a stepfather whose methods were less than savory and morals were suspect, I was so impressed with this guy's talent and abilities.
    People who worked with him stretched to be a little better because of his work ethics.

    I married him.

  12. The Silver Fox reminds me of my husband, never a mean word or thought about anyone even those who "screw" him over, he is a great inspiration to me to turn the other cheek so to speak. Everyone seems to like him and he can talk to someone for five minutes and have their whole life story, people just trust him and luckily for them he is worth trusting.

  13. MML,
    Aww, that is the sweetest testimony to a hubby I have ever heard. What else could you do with a guy like that but marry him. You are both lucky.

    Linda Starr,
    Wow, back to back women who found neat men and scarfed them up. He sounds like a real keeper.

  14. My English/Literature teacher. She was a wonderful person. And her names was Mrs. Starr.

  15. I had a few teachers who were like that. Good post, Patti.

  16. Patty,
    We never forget the good ones do we.

    Thanks Judy. I had one or two myself.

  17. Having worked for a car dealership many years ago, I really enjoyed your post.
    Some of them sure lived up to the old question of would you buy a used car from this guy? LOL
    Sunny :)

  18. Sunny,
    Then you know exactly what I am talking about. Makes you a better car buyer though for the experience.