Tag Archives: salesman

Forget everything you know about golf

“Forget everything you know about golf,” Mitch told me at the beginning of the one-hour golf-with-a-pro golf lesson I won for free when I dropped my business card into a bowl of business cards at the Kia dealer a few months ago.


“What?” I had to ask the person on the other end of the phone when they called me up to let me know that my name had been chosen as the winner. I didn’t even wind up buying a Kia. And that was a real challenge, walking out of that showroom empty handed. Those guys were out for blood. One of the salesmen was actually walking down the street with me for a few blocks, still convinced that if he could only find that magical combination of words and discounted interior upgrades, that I’d reconsider, I’d turn around and sign my name on that dotted line that was in front of my face even before I’d selected which model would have made for a cool test drive.

“That’s right, you’re the lucky winner of the  Kip’s Bay Kia Golf Giveaway!” And yeah, it’s nice to win something, especially something that you weren’t expecting. I was at work, my phone rang, and the last thing I could have imagined was that I’d win an hour of private golf lessons with Mitch … what was his last name? I can’t remember. He was definitely a pro though. He showed me his pro card before even shaking my hand.

And that was the first thing he said to me, “Forget everything you know about golf.” And I looked at him and said, “Done.” And then I closed my eyes and made an expression like there was something rattling around in my head, and then I opened my eyes and went, “Ding! Golf memories: erased.”

He didn’t laugh, which, I don’t know what to say. I thought that was pretty funny, considering it was totally on the spot. Like I had no idea he was going to tell me to forget everything I knew about golf. And I’m pretty good with jokes, you know, not like a professional comedian or anything, but whatever, mildly funny, that’s probably a fair description. And this was so beyond my regular mild humor, I tried to match his stone cold gaze, but I couldn’t help but laugh a little.

“You done?” he said after a really awkward twenty or thirty seconds.

“Yeah, I’m good, sorry Mitch.”

“All right, well, we’d better get started. Did you leave your clubs in the car?”
“No, I don’t have a car.”

“You didn’t bring clubs?”

“Clubs? I told you I won this, right? At the Kia dealership?”

“But I just thought you said that you don’t have a car.”

“Right, yeah, I just took the subway.”

“So then how did you win this lesson at a Kia dealership?”

“Well, I thought about buying a car, but I didn’t do any research, and you know how the salespeople get you, they sit you down at that desk and start writing numbers down, I knew I was way …”

“All right, OK. How about, I’ll just get one of the loaner clubs from the driving range and we’ll give you like three buckets of balls.”

“And then what?”

“What you mean and then what?”

“What are these balls you’re talking about? Driving range? None of these words make any sense.”

And he looked at me for a second, and then I started laughing again, which, I really wanted to see how long I could keep a straight face this time.

“Mitch, remember? You told me to forget everything I knew about golf?”

And I was smiling and, for a minute, I thought Mitch was going to break, like I’d gotten through to him, like he was going to start laughing any second. But he just looked at me and said, “You’ve got something wrong with you, asshole.”

So he walked away and I didn’t even get those three free buckets of balls. And now Kia won’t stop calling me either, they’re like, “How was the golf lesson? Any thoughts about buying a Kia? Do you want to come down to the showroom and talk about financing? Rob, come on, tell me what I’ve got to do to get you in this Kia. Rob, help me help you buy a Kia. Rob, you’ve got to buy this Kia.” Over and over again, I’m at the point where I’m thinking about getting a new cell phone. But the last time I went to the T-Mobile store I also never bought a phone, and weirdly enough, while I was there I also won a prize, a twenty-five dollar gift certificate to the Sports Authority. That was like four months ago, and those guys just finally stopped calling me. “Hey Rob, how was that gift card? You thinking about coming down and buying a Samsung Galaxy smartphone? We’ve got some great deals on refurbished models that I think you’ll be interested in. Come on down and talk it out. Tell me what I’ve got to do to get one of those smartphones in your hands.”

I joined a gym

I saw this deal on Groupon for a gym by my house. Usually I only run, outside, but lately I’ve been feeling like it might do me some good to change up the routine. There are a bunch of reasons why I’ve never gone to a gym before, the self-consciousness of working out in front of other people, the not really knowing how to use any of the equipment. I remember one time I went to the university gym while I was in school, I had no idea what I was doing. I sat down at some machine where you put your arms on a platform and start moving some weight attached to a bunch of cables. It wasn’t even that heavy, I swear, but I totally did something wrong, because I couldn’t move my arm for like a week. And it wasn’t soreness, I know what being sore feels like, this was like somebody punched me straight in the triceps.


Honestly, probably the biggest obstacle preventing me from signing up is the cost. Most gyms by me are in the fifty dollar a month range, and I don’t know, I can’t even bring myself to subscribe to cable TV, there’s no way I want to drop that much money on a gym membership. But this Groupon sounded like such a good deal, just two hundred bucks for an entire year, no membership fee, unlimited classes.

I could make that work. On the way over I thought about the closest I’ve ever come to doing something like this, it was about four years ago, I wanted to take a yoga class, just to see what everybody was talking about. The lady at the front desk told me that a single class would be twenty bucks, or, I could spend thirty and get an unlimited monthly pass. Some guy behind me chimed in, “That is probably the best deal in New York.”

Sold. Then I went inside the studio and it turned out that the guy who encouraged me was the instructor. I felt played. I felt even more played when, a month after I had taken several classes a week, I enthusiastically asked how much it would be to continue my membership. That’s when they started throwing numbers at me, like big numbers, four hundred dollars, stuff like that.

I prepared myself for similar tactics at the gym. While I’d never been to a real gym before, I’ve seen plenty of stuff on TV, how they sit you down, they try to rope you in immediately. Sure enough, I walk to the front desk and the guy’s like, “How’d you hear about us?” My plan was to demand the two hundred dollar deal and stick to my guns, but as soon as I said the word, “Groupon,” the guy told me, “OK, well, we can iron out the details later. Let me you show you around the facility.”

And I knew right away that the two hundred dollar yearly wasn’t going to happen. All of my questions were met with a “We’ll get to that,” as the trainer showing me around guided me through his carefully orchestrated gym-membership speech. He showed me the protein shake bar, the spin studio, “You want to go check out the bathrooms?” he offered, “Eh, I don’t know, I don’t really think that’s necessary.”

“All right, well, unless you’re sure you don’t want to go check out the bathrooms, let’s go to my office and fill out some paperwork.” Wow, this guy was aggressive, both about the bathrooms and the roping me in to a membership. I followed him to a desk and he went from trainer to car salesmen as soon as he sat down in his leather chair. “All right,” he took out a piece of paper and started writing down numbers, “Let’s get down to business.”

“What about the Groupon?” I was kind of surprised about how meek I sounded sitting in this chair, something about taking a tour through this factory of muscle and sweat, here I was, I looked like I just rolled out of bed, I was wearing a Batman t-shirt and jeans, whereas normally I feel like I’m in great shape thanks to running, now I felt just really skinny and awkward.

“The Groupon expired,” he dismissed the offer, which I later learned after rechecking it out, it never really was an option to begin with. When you went to try and buy the Groupon, it would tell you that it was sold out, even though they kept posting the same ad every month or so. “But come on,” he tried to persuade me, “Thirty bucks a month, that’s a dollar a day, unlimited classes, it’s a great deal.”

It did sound like a good deal, and I don’t know if it was him taking advantage of my insecurities, but I had a pretty strong urge to join the gym. He could see me thinking, he could sense my hesitation, and taking something right out of the used car salesmen playbook, he looked at me and said, “You know what? I like you. I can tell you’re serious about working out.”

Really? He likes me? And how could he tell how serious I was? He wrote down the number seven on the piece of paper, “So here’s what I’m going to do for you. You see this seven dollar membership fee?” he drew a big circle around the seven, “I’m going to take care of that seven dollars for you,” he crossed out the seven, a big X across the whole paper.

I looked at him for a minute, he stared me down, right in the eye.