I don’t want to pick a fight with local used car salesmen. My 1999 Ford Ranger is closing in on 100,000 miles and I don’t want to go truck shopping incognito.
But I thought anyone willing to go into used car sales in the first place would have skin as thick as say, a news reporter.
Just last month while covering a potential story, a woman in her Sunday finest standing on church house steps glared at me and told me, “Go back where you came from.”
A lot of things I’ve been called over the years — usually by criminal defendants’ mothers, wives and girlfriends and the occasional attorney — aren’t printable.
I recently wrote a story about the passing of a talented if sartorially-handicapped attorney. I wrote that his typically rumpled state of dress and apparent disorganization belied a sharp legal mind. I compared his appearance to that of a used car salesman.
Soon after, I received an e-mail and my boss received a phone call, apparently from the same gentleman, that said I owed an apology to “every automobile salesman in York County.”
That’s not going to happen because I didn’t say anything about new car salesmen, who the last time I dealt with any, wore khakis and spiffy polos with their company logo.
Sight unseen, the gentleman car dealer told me, “Get your act together … Mr. Sharp Dresser.”
He asked my boss why I didn’t compare the attorney to a rumpled reporter? Well, because “rumpled reporter” doesn’t bring an image to most people’s minds unless they know me.
I admit I’m partial to my brown sport coat because it doesn’t show the coffee stains. A pair of black pants will be streaked with cigarette ashes before I even make it to work.
Was I stereotyping? Absolutely. An image placed in a reader’s mind can always save me a couple of sentences.
Was I wrong?
Until I see some pictures of local used car salesmen that prove to me the stereotype is outdated, I can’t say it won’t happen again.
Here’s me at work.
And at play.
What about you, “Mr. Sharp (used car salesman) Dresser?”