Contrary to stereotype, we have honest used car dealers here in Harvey County. The guy I trade with is Mr. Phipps. He’s a bass player and true bluegrass. Phipsy and I are straight up front with each other. I want a good deal. At the same time, he’s gotta make a profit to stay open, so we look for the middle ground and can do business just fine.
Like with the rest of my life my car philosophy is quite simple. I like to keep my wife safe and in some good wheels. (do they still call it a late-model car?) We travel in her car when we’re on the road. I drive a used truck around home. I figure I know everyone in Harvey County. If it breaks down I can catch a ride in a phone call or two. I kept my last one twenty-one years.
Back when my daughter left for college it became obvious it was time to trade. Every so often I needed to take some supplies to her in the truck. The old horse labored hard to make the journey and made all kinds of racket. My guitar man was with me one night and commented he feared it was gonna blow up. I called Phipsy on Monday morning.
“You got any used trucks on the lot?”
“I’d say you’re about due, Doc.”
I described what I wanted. It needed to have the prerequisite twenty-five thousand miles of depreciation and come with the service records. I preferred the smaller models, but needed one with a third seat every so often, and I wanted at least decent gas decent mileage. I also requested the 4 wheel drive a doctor needs a couple of times a year. The only complaint I had about my last one was even though it was serviceable it was a bit underpowered, so I want to move up to the 4.3 V6 this go-round, as that engine had a reliable track record.
“I’ll look around,” he said.
He called in a few weeks. “I’ve got one on the lot I think you’ll like.”
I drove out to the car lot at lunch. The vehicle was perfect, except the name of the color was champagne. It looked fine, but somehow to me a truck ought to be red, white, blue, black, etc. “Think of it as tan,” Phipsy said.
He made me an offer, and I looked up the vehicle on the Internet. We were already close, and the next day we were within 300.00 dollars. “Why don’t we split the difference?” I asked.
We got ready to shake hands. I recalled the words of one of my patients, a very wise businessman. “Think of me like a sheep. I want you to be able to shear me, just don’t skin me. If you do I can’t stay alive.”
“Hey Phipsy,” I asked.” You gonna get enough out of this? I mean, I want you to be here next time I need to trade. I want to shear you, but I don’t want to skin you.”
“Yeah Doc, it’s fair deal. I’m good. I gotta tell you though. It’s not every day in my business the customer wants to be certain I’ve been treated fair.”
We shook hands. “Tell ya what brother,” I said. “I’ll be back in twenty-one years to get me another one.”
Phipsy scratched his head and smiled. “Doc, you just took all the fun out of it.”
I like Phispy. I might just go back in a decade. As I get older, perhaps I’ll splurge and stay in a late-model.
This post is dedicated to Phipsy and also to Bingo Bob Rupe, my Raleigh mandolin pal. Phipsy is a small town boy, and Bingo is a big city car dealer, but they are of the same mold and will cut you a fair deal. Just make sure you only shear ‘em and don’t skin ‘em. I always want the true bluegrassers to stay alive and thrive, cause that’s where I want to do business.