Friday, January 8, 2016

Meth Head at the Car Dealer (Merchants of Misery)

We saw a meth head lady at the car dealer trying to buy a brand new car.   It would have been funny, if it weren't so tragic.

The Hamster was recalled due to a possible loose bolt in the steering.  We has to sit around the dealership for an hour while they replaced it.   I wasn't too upset until they decided to do a "courtesy wash" on the car, which I had just waxed and detailed.   They sprayed some kind of caustic soap on it, and of course just let it air-dry, so it was covered with water spots.   The first thing I had to do when I got home was re-wash and hand-dry the entire car.   Car dealers suck.

But I almost had sympathy for this one salesman at the dealer, who was "up" when a meth-head lady came in wanting to buy a car.   It was a small dealer and we heard the entire exchange go down, while sitting there waiting for our car to be badly washed.

She was unemployed and had no source of income - not even social security or SSI.   She said she was "waiting for her settlement" to come in - no doubt the victim of a Personal Injury Attorney scheme.  He ran her credit and her score was 400.  I never realized the numbers went that low.

Obviously, he couldn't sell her a car.   Not without verifiable employment and a W2.   And he tried to explain to her that even if he could get her a loan, the interest rate would be so horrific that she would pay more for the car in interest than she did in principal.   She wasn't dissuaded, and would have signed the papers that day, if some lending company was foolish enough to lend money to an insolvent unemployed person.

I kind of felt bad for the salesman, as he lost an "up" at the dealer, and wasted an hour with this lady, when he could have snagged a more promising prospect who at least had a job.   But it illustrates how small-time and small-town dealerships work and why they are a bad place to buy a car.  They are geared toward the insolvent customer, and are set up to offer "low monthly prices" (or even bi-weekly or weekly rates) based on shifty financing.   The last thing they want is a customer with cash or a good credit rating - they wouldn't know what to do!

And of course, most of the cars on the lot were stripped models, as no one in our area has the money (or so they think - the dealership itself suffers from poverty of the spirit) to buy a fully loaded model.

But struck me that this lady was a classic example of poverty-think.   She had no job, largely because of her drug habit (which was obvious by her appearance and mannerisms).   And rather than give up the drugs, she just beat her head against the wall, trying to borrow more and more money.   Sort of like a moth flying into a light-bulb at night, pounding itself silly to no avail.

A 400 credit rating doesn't happen overnight.  You really have to work at that.  And if you find yourself in that sort of situation, the last thing you need to be doing is going to a new car dealer (or any car dealer) and begging to borrow yet more money - on onerous terms.

I thought also it was sad that she was pinning her future hopes on a Personal Injury "settlement" which of course, as we know, will turn out to be much less money than she is expecting.   But no doubt, at this very moment, she is "on the pipe" with her friends right now, regaling them with how many millions she is going to get for her staged slip-and-fall at Wal-Mart, and how she'll show that snotty car salesman when she comes in just throwing money around!  Oh, and by the way, can I borrow $20 until next week.  You know I'm good for it - I'll pay you back when I get my settlement!

Do I feel sorry for this person?  Not really.  I've known a lot of people like that, back during my drug days, and they are pretty odious folks.   For them, working is something chumps do.  The smart folks work the system!  Like shoplifting and breaking into people's homes!   Yea, that's how you get ahead.  Drugs do make you do weird things.

The sad thing is, she will go from car dealer to car dealer, until she finds some run-down "buy here pay here" by-the-week car dealer who will sell her some load for far more than it is worth, on interest terms (or even a weekly lease) that is scandalous.   And she will drive the car for maybe a month before she is pulled over for a DUI (with no insurance of course) and the car is re-po'ed and her credit rating is in the tank for seven more years.

But of course, she'll be in jail once again, so she probably won't care.

It made me sad, seeing such human misery.   Small towns in rural areas - or urban ghettos - are full of businesses that cater to the poor.  The Merchants of Misery, I call them.  On the way home, we passed two rent-to-own furniture stores, several pawn shops, two "title pawn loan" places, a bevy of check-cashing stores, and several consumer finance companies.

All are in the same business - trafficking in human misery.   It kind of made me depressed.   I mean, is this the best humanity can do?

Apparently, the greatest ambition one can have in Southeast Georgia is to start up a business which utterly exploits the poor.   Sadly, it seems to be the same all over.