Cars! All The Different Cars!

, , , , | Right | CREDIT: RaikaMstr | April 1, 2021

I am a huge car enthusiast who’s very proud of my family heritage — mainly French and Italian — and have been to Europe a few times to be familiar with the cars there.

It’s about 2015, and I’m at work at my local outlet mall, working at a higher-end audio brand’s store. The mall sees a TON of both local and international traffic, as there is an international airport about ten miles away with busses that run directly to the mall from the airport.

We just started selling a brand-new Bluetooth speaker that has plenty of hype behind it, and it’s becoming quite popular as we enter the summer months because of its loudness and outdoor usability.

A man enters the store.

Me: “Hi, welcome to [Store]. How can I help you?”

Man: “Well… I have an odd request.”

I’ve heard this line before, or so I think.

Me: “What do you need?”

Man: “I need to take a product outside. Do you have a floor model I can take?”

Me: *Mildly startled* “What do you mean, outside? Our products can’t leave our sales floor.”

This gets the attention of my store manager, who now has his head turned to listen in on the conversation

Man: “I need to see if something fits. It’s a tight space.”

Mind you, this gentleman is older— maybe mid-fifties into early sixties. From his demeanor, I can tell that even he knows that it’s highly irregular to ask to take a product off of the store floor without purchasing, but I can also tell he is an honest sort of guy.

Store Manager: “What are you trying to do, sir?”

Man: “I heard about this new speaker of yours and wanted to see if it fit in a space in my car. It doesn’t have a stereo, and this speaker looks like it could fit perfectly in this space.”

My manager knows my affinity for cars, so when I look at him knowingly and longingly, he gives the approval for us to go outside with the product and basically tells me to guard the unit with my life. As we walk out to the guy’s car, we start talking back and forth.

Turns out, he is an Air Force veteran who served for nearly twenty years at airbases in Germany and Italy. He served from the 1970s to the ‘90s and lived with his wife in Italy. They returned only recently and decided to bring his beloved car back from Italy with him.

The car? A beautiful, all-original 1970s Fiat 500 in a glorious two-tone red on black. It has been refitted with a power outlet to run a small fan — these cars were never built with AC or anything powered — with the original leather top as the only other source of fresh air. And it is tiny!

After discussing the car, we promptly look in the center. Lo and behold, the “space” he described is a near-exact fit, with a power outlet to charge the speaker right there. The car never had a radio in it to begin with, so this would be a huge upgrade over the deafening sound of tiny Italian engine noises.

We give it a test right there in the lot in the car. The veteran is relatively satisfied, but after all the excitement over seeing and being in this car, I want to seal the sale. I convince him to start the car so we can test the speaker with the native car sounds and see if the it can outdo the noise. Then, HE gets really committed.

Man: “Buckle in. Let’s go for a ride.”

Without question, I buckled in. Next thing I knew, we were scooting around the massive parking lot of my outlet mall doing nearly forty or fifty miles per hour — the top speed of the Fiat — blasting the Eagles at full volume without any issues hearing the music. I was having a blast, loving every second of not only chilling with this incredibly nice gentleman, but also getting PAID to be in this car with an Air Force Veteran.

About ten minutes of racecar noises and receipts later, he bought not only the speaker, but every optional item we had for it, minus a car charger since he had the power outlet already in his car.

It was easily the coolest day at work EVER and one of the best customers I ever had.

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