I heard somewhere that the best things in life are free. I pondered over that idea for a couple minutes. Let’s see: friends, family, time, public education, advice, nudie bar flyers, garbage, food samples in grocery stores, political campaign buttons, and love.
Well, that last one can be a whole other article. But basically, those are all things you would expect on a list of “free stuff.” But did you know you could drive a $40,000 automobile for free?
Oh yeah, Skippy, you can.
My friend Joe and I went out on a mission to test-drive a new BMW. To make it all possible, Joe and I dressed up as highly reputable businessmen looking for a new car. In this little escapade, Joe plays “Mr. Quinn,” an owner of a highly successful Florida-based Internet company “Crunchable.” He’s strict, all about business, and richer than God and Satan combined. Oh, and he’s armed with a hidden tape recorder.
Then there’s me. I assumed the role of “Rob,” naturally. I am Mr. Quinn’s personal driver obsessed with the movie “Pulp Fiction.” And to spice things up, we spoke in New York accents.
We started our adventure in Poughkeepsie, New York, a cold and bitter little city one hour north of New York City. “Mr. Quinn” and I enter the BMW dealership with some hesitation and nervousness. We weren’t sure what to say exactly. We didn’t have a script to follow because we wanted it all to be improvised.
I bought my first car a year ago, so my automotive negotiation skills were shabby. We weren’t sure what to look for or what to ask, so we stood there in the middle of the dealership for what felt like hours. We ogled the many BMWs on the showroom. There were several convertibles, a couple sedans, and an SUV. Good to go? Alright.
Joe: I don’t see anyone around to answer our questions. (Walks over to a nice-looking BMW sedan.) This one’s a stick shift though.
(Looks at another.) Also a stick shift. (Looks at another.) That’s a standard. Basically, I want a car that you’ll be comfortable with, and one that looks good for the company.
We should see if they have any convertibles with a standard shift. I like the two-seatahs — a lot of room, you know? All the legroom. Maybe you don’t realize it, but you get someone as tall as me sitting in those leather seats, in that kind of car … (Points to a price tag of a black BMW four-seater.) What does that say right there?
Joe: I’ve got an itch on my left buttock. Wanna get that for me?
Rob: Umm … I don’t think that’s my job, Mr. Quinn.
Joe: Make it your job.
(Suddenly a young man in his late 20s approaches us, wearing a blue shirt and yellow tie with dark pants, with way too much gel in his hair.)
Salesman: How’re you gentlemen today?
(Holy shit, he called us gentlemen!)
Rob & Joe: Good.
Salesman: How could I help you?
Rob: Well, we need a car.
Salesman: (laughing) Oh, okay. Well, what kind of car are you looking for?
Rob: Eh, I don’t know. Not sure. We just want a good one.
Salesman: Well, what do you need? Who’s gonna be driving?
Rob: I’ll be driving. I’m the driver. We need a four-seater, not a convertible …
Joe: Standard shift would be good.
Salesman: Okay, okay.
(He leads us to a black BMW that we were looking at previously and opens the door for Joe.)
Salesman: Right here, we’ve got a fully loaded 2001 BMW. The battery’s dead so you can’t move the seat up. Let me show you a car outside with a good battery.
(He walks into an office in the back to get the keys for a BMW outside. When the salesman comes back, he leads us outside the display floor. He takes us to the outside parking lot filled with BMWs of every color of the rainbow. The salesman opens the door of a brand new car for Joe.)
Now, I know you guys don’t know my friend Joe, but he’s about 6 foot 7 inches. For his entire life, people have been asking him to his face, “Hey, Joe, how tall are you?” and saying things like, “Wow you’re tall!” No shit. It’s like telling a blind man, “Gee whiz! You can’t see!” But anyway, it’s important for us to find a sedan that could fit our Mr. Quinn. And so you notice the emphasis on the seating room.
Joe: (Adjusts the seat to his liking by moving it as far back as possible, giving him the optimum legroom.) It goes pretty far back. Oh, wow, it seems like everything we need as far as seats go.
Rob: Now, what about test driving something like this? (Pats the top of the shiny automobile.)
Salesman: Sure! You wanna drive a new one though, right? (He leads us to another BMW that is suited for test driving. This is where he starts getting chummy.) I’m Marcus, by the way, and you?
Rob: I’m Rob.
Joe: I’m Joe.
Marcus: Joe, okay — nice to meet you.
Rob: Mr. Quinn here (pointing to Joe), he’s the head of the company.
Marcus: Oh, a company based around here?
Rob: Oh no.
Marcus: Where from?
Rob: We’re from Florida.
Marcus: Oh yeah? Where in Florida? Over in …
Rob: From Miami.
Marcus: Oh really! Wow … so what’re you guys doing up here?
Rob: Oh … a little vacation.
Marcus: (with a chuckle) Alright, so are you guys gonna buy the car and drive it back down to Florida?
Rob: Nah, we’re gonna keep it around here. We’ve got a car down there for Mr. Quinn.
Marcus: Alright, alright. Well, here’s the 2002 530i. It’s got the black leather, supreme package, heated seats, moon-roof, and wooden interior trimmings …
Joe: Looks like the thing we’re looking for.
Marcus: Yup, yup, it’s automatic, a standard shift.
Rob: Nice car — you like it?
Joe: Yeah, I like it.
Rob: Can we try it out?
Marcus: Yeah, sure, let me get the keys.
Rob: Is there a CD player in this one?
Marcus: Yeah, it comes standard. (Goes inside to get a special license plate for test driving cars.)
(Boo-friggin’-yah. Well, that was easy. Rob has his “Pulp Fiction” soundtrack all ready to go. Joe’s all set. Let’s kick this up another notch.)
Rob: Are you ready, Mr. Quinn?
Joe: I’m ready.
Rob: Will you be riding with us, Marcus?
(Marcus nods his head. He quickly mentions all the boring safety features, the roadside assistance, its warranty and maintenance policies, and how it won the “Safest Car Award in South America” or something. We don’t care. We just wanna ride this puppy to Vegas.)
Rob: Alright, excellent.
(We enter the new 2002 black BMW. At a quick glance it looked like a licorice jelly bean with wheels. We slowly sink into the leather seats of the car. Dead cattle comfort our asses.)
(Rob turns the ignition and takes our brand new puppy for a walk.)
Marcus: Click on that on-dash wooden panel for the CD player.
Rob: Well, Mr. Quinn, we’re gonna have lots of fun with this one.
Joe: Keep in mind we’ve got a job to do here. That’s why we’ve got to do a test drive.
(Rob quickly opens up the in-dash CD player and slides the “Pulp Fiction” soundtrack inside. Smooth, baby, smooth! In the meantime, Marcus tells us the wonders of the heated seats and how we can adjust each individual seat’s temperature according to the person’s taste. This is where the last line on track 1 of the CD kicks in. As we drive onto Route 9 North heading towards the heart of Poughkeepsie, we hear “… Any of you pricks move, and I’ll execute every mother-fucking last one of you!” followed by surf music.)
Rob: Ah, this feels great!
Marcus: What kind of company car do you have in Miami?
Rob: Oh, we have a BMW.
Joe: But we have a different driver down there.
Rob: I drive Mr. Quinn up here. Ah, this is excellent. So, this can get from 0 to 60 in how long?
Marcus: Oh, about 7.1, about 7 seconds. I don’t know the exact …
Rob: Well, let’s find out.
(Rob vrooms that engine and feels the vibrations surge through our bodies. He kicks it hardcore, putting the pedal to the metal. Marcus is right. We reach 60 mph in about 7 seconds.)
Rob: I like it. This is very nice. Mr. Quinn, I think you’ll like this.
Joe: Oh, I’m enjoying this. One concern I have is the driver down in Florida. We got him a really nice BMW with all the luxury features. He just got so carried away with it he would start driving right past all the stops. He would have the radio cranked up, heat and all, and get all adjusted with the controls down there, and forget about what he’s doing. So, you gotta make sure you’re all focused.
Rob: Maybe you should think about just having one driver. You know?
Joe: Well, we’ll see what happens.
Rob: Hey, this is fantastic, Marcus. Fantastic. How many of these do you sell in a day?
Marcus: Oh, we’d sell about 65 BMWs a month. It all depends really. You can sell two a day and others sell three a day.
Rob: Right, on average it seems like two a day. That’s pretty good.
(Track 4: “Jungle Boogie” plays next on the “Pulp Fiction” soundtrack. Rob cranks up the volume and lets the bass pound through the car.)
Rob: Ah yeah, you feel that, Mr. Quinn?
Joe: It’s a very nice system.
Rob: It’s pretty good! Ah, good ride. So Marcus, be honest here. How many BMWs do you sell to people our age?
Marcus: Oh, a lot! Oh yeah, you’d be surprised. BMWs are a younger guy’s car. It attracts a younger crowd.
Rob: Oh yeah?
Marcus: Oh yeah, all the time, all the time. I’ve got people 16, 17 years old coming in. I mean, they’re a little unusual. Their parents just come in and just buy it for them.
Rob: Ah, those kids! I hate those kids.
Joe: Tell me about it.
Marcus: Hey, well, you know, they’re the lucky ones.
Rob: Lucky ones who don’t work!
(Marcus laughs in agreement.)
[Editor's note: Rob is currently unemployed.]
Marcus: Yeah, I’ve got young kids come in who’ve got businesses and good jobs and they want the Beamers. It’s the best car on the road.
Rob: (Track #9 kicks in. Following Bruce Willis’s quote playing on the CD …) Zed’s dead, baby, Zed’s dead.
Marcus: What company do you have? Is it all down in Florida or mostly up here?
Joe: We have two branches. It’s Crunchable.net, an Internet company.
Rob: We’re one of the few ones that actually succeeded.
Marcus: Oh yeah, yeah that’s good. What do you guys do, sell stuff?
Joe: Yeah, we’re doing alright. I mean, we’re trying to count our blessings, seeing what happened to other companies.
(Rob sings along to “Girl, You’ll be a Woman Soon.”)
Joe: Hey, you gotta concentrate on your driving.
Rob: Sorry! I always do that! I always freak him out ’cause I love this fuckin’ soundtrack. I just go crazy over it.
(We hear Marcus laughing in the background.)
Rob: So Marcus, what do you do for fun?
Marcus: I pretty much ride most of the time, like motorcycles.
Rob: Motorcycles? Ah, very nice.
Joe: I read a very good book about motorcycles. It’s called Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Piercing. It’s a very good book.
Rob: Yeah, Mr. Quinn keeps talking about it. It is a good book.
Marcus: I also go to some clubs around here. I like to go to McClurry’s over by Route 9.
Rob: McClurry’s, huh? Maybe we should check that out, Mr. Quinn. Are there girls?
Marcus: Oh yeah, oh yeah.
Rob: Ahhhh, girls. Excellent. How’s that, Mr. Quinn? Girls! Girls!
Joe: Oh, we’ll see what happens.
Rob: That’s pretty good, I like that idea. Sometimes you get the girls who are just impressed by the car. You know? So it’s just, eh them girls! You get a lotta hotties over there at the BMW place?
Marcus: Some, some. Not too impressive.
Rob: Ah, must be that Poughkeepsie blood!
(Marcus laughs. Rob turns right into the parking lot of the BMW dealership. We say our goodbyes to Marcus and thank him for a pleasant drive with a fantastic car. Rob rejects taking his business card due to the fact that he has a “good memory.” We all shake hands and leave the lot.)
Rob: So, what do you think, Mr. Quinn?
Joe: Eh, I don’t think it was expensive enough. I would buy a car exactly like that if it was three times the price. We’ll see what they got in Manhattan — that shit down there’s expensive.
There you go, ladies and gentlemen. A 10- or 15-minute ride around Poughkeepsie with an executive, his driver, and the BMW salesman. And it was all free.
So next time you and a buddy are sitting around Friday afternoon with nothing to do, dress yourself up, head down to your nearest car dealership, pick out an overly expensive luxury sedan, and drive off in the sunset. Or go to that nudie bar advertised on the flyer. You’ll thank me in the morning.