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The Unexpected Convertible

I’ve had a love for the fine art of negotiation for most of my life and most recently I’ve developed a newfound love for convertibles. In the back of my mind I feared that these two loves would intersect and yield bad results, but after my recent unexpected experience at a car dealership, I realized that these two things can come together to produce sweet, sweet harmony.

Let me explain. Last year during my “In search of inspiration” tour my cousin and I drove a convertible for the first time in the cold city of San Francisco. I loved it because I felt invincible and unrestricted; however, I also felt cold. The average temperature in the area at the time was 60 degrees, but I refused to close the roof because it was such a new and exhilerating experience for me. I was so fascinated with the roofless car that we made a video detailing the different ways to say “we are going to open the convertible top.” In looking at this video, please note that we are both wearing multiple layers of clothes to protect against the frigid temperatures that we subjected ourselves to:

When I returned home later that week I was inspired to recreate the experience in my daily life and purchase a convertible, but after 3 months of searching for the perfect vehicle at the perfect price, I abandoned my quest.

The G-CLK

Fast-forward to a couple of weeks ago, I was driving by a car dealership and I spotted a gorgeous Audi S5 for sale. I stopped to admire the quad-exhausted beauty when in the corner of my eye I noticed a lonely little convertible parked out back. When I asked the dealership’s owner about the car, he told me that he just accepted it into his inventory earlier that day and it wasn’t ready to be sold yet. I inquired about the cost and he told me that he did not yet calculate the cost of the vehicle so he’d have to get back to me. I realized that this was the perfect opportunity for a negotiation session so I made an extremely aggressive offer for the car and to my surprise he said “ok.” “Wait… You mean ok, as in ‘yes, you accept my offer?'” “Yes.” This was too easy. I thought about capitalizing on my luck by offering him $100 for the Audi S5, but I decided to be modest.

While he retrieved the keys for me to test drive the car, I used my iPhone to check the car’s value on every major car valuation website that I knew and they all suggested that, at minimum, the car was worth at least 40% more than my accepted offer. I assumed that the owner also did the same thing because when he approached me again, he tried to correct his mistake and increase the price by 30%, but it was too late and he realized this too. I’d already mentally purchased the car.

I took the Mercedes CLK430 for an extreme test drive where I subjected it to my battery of extreme tests. I rapidly swerved to test the suspension, I slammed brakes several times to test the pads and rotors, I accelerated from 0-60 multiple times to see how much the engine could handle, and I even blasted the sound system at full volume to see if it could handle my loud hippity-hop music. I tested everything from the wipers to the headlights and everything passed my tests with flying colors. The guy from the dealership who accompanied me on the test drive probably feared for his life as I drove like The Stig, but I wanted to be sure that I fully tested the vehicle that I needed in my life all of a sudden. When I arrived back at the dealership, I prepared for round two of negotiations.

In the process of negotiating further, I became friends with the owner of the dealership and we spoke for a while about things not related to the car deal. He told me stories about his vacation, he showed me pictures of his wife and kids, introduced me to his business partner and his kids, and introduced me to other members on his staff. In the process of speaking with him, he showed me the exact profit margin for the car and explained how he is earning less than $50 on the sale, but he was happy because the customer relationship aspect was a lot more valuable to him. During this deal I realized that the word-of-mouth potential of a sale is often more valuable than a one-time quick profit. I liked this deal because everyone wins: I got a car that exceeded my expectations and he gained a customer and numerous referrals for life!

IMG_0984

So now I have a car that is emblazoned with my G-Head logo, just like the first one. Best of all, I got it a week after my birthday, so it also serves as a birthday gift from-me-to-me. I love this car so much that I want to take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant. Summer needs to last longer!

Eye-to-Eye with the Sky

I recently had my first helicopter experience when I went on a flying tour of New York City. After signing a liability form with multiple lines of “don’t sue our company, please” fine print, the flight instructor guided my friend and I down the tarmac where the helicopter was kept. While we walked, I took the opportunity to ask the pilot a very important question. “So how many years have you been flying?” “Two.” “Did you say two years?” “Yes, two years.” Oh boy, what did we get ourselves into?! Somehow the liability release form coupled with the novice helicopter pilot didn’t instill a warm and fuzzy sense of security in my nervous heart. Was it too late to back out??

Eyes in the Sky

The helicopter pilot then ushers us into a tiny blue dragonfly looking contraption that was the length of 1.5 Geremys. I thought that it would be a very cool toy for my brother to play with, but then our pilot said “this is the helicopter that we will be flying in today.” Wait…this blue insect thing is a helicopter?!? At this point, the “don’t sue us” form, coupled with the beginner helicopter pilot and the 9 ft long dragonfly did not give a sense of security to my palpitating heart. Was it too late to back out??

Pilot man explained the rules of the dragonfly: 1) don’t walk behind the fly 2) don’t walk around the fly if its wings are flapping 3) don’t step on the fly, and 4) don’t try to leave the fly while the fly is in motion. This seemed easy enough. As extra incentive, he explained that breaking these rules could lead to injuries, which probably include decapitation and/or loss of limbs. Now I realized why the release form was necessary.

Eyes in the Sky

We climbed into the fly’s belly and fastened our seat belts to ensure that we don’t fall out. I assumed that the pilot was going to prepare for the flight by wearing some helicopter-piloting gear, like maybe some sort of life vest and perhaps a helmet, but I was horribly mistaken. His helicopter flying outfit consisted of a t-shirt that had three planes free-falling out of the sky.
Next, he turned on the helicopter (which sounded a lot like my dad’s Craftsman weedwacker) and he whisked us into the air. When we were about 20 feet above the ground, I noticed that he had no front door and could easily jump out of the helicopter and abandon the flight if he wanted to. Uh oh..

Eyes in the Sky

Eyes in the Sky

Eyes in the Sky

After we were in the sky, the fly went surprisingly smooth and the views of everything was simply amazing. It was great to see the entire city of New York from a completely different vantage point. I was eye-to-eye with skyscrapers and I felt like King Kong. I continuously snapped photos of everything I saw because I did not want to forget the amazing view. As we reached the end of Manhattan, the pilot turned the fly around and showed us one of my favorite New Jersey cities—Hoboken. He pointed out a few things that were only visible from the sky, such as rooftop pools and gardens, but then I realized that he was steering the entire helicopter with one hand as he spoke. I wanted to mention that I didn’t feel that he was experienced enough to attempt the one-hand-flying routine, but since he didn’t have a door I didn’t want him to get offended and jump into the Hudson River.

We passed by the Statue of Liberty then we crossed over Newark Airport before landing in the same spot where we started. As I exited the dragonfly, I wished the the flight was just a bit longer because it was truly a great experience with great sights. Although I signed all of my rights away on a waiver form, and I flew in a helicopter that was smaller than the glove compartment in a Mini Cooper, and I put my life in the hands of a relatively new pilot, and I risked decapitation, it was a very enjoyable experience that I would partake in again if I was given the opportunity.

Coincidentally, two days later I received an email from the company’s mailing list which stated that flights were postponed indefinitely due to mechanical issues. I don’t know if this was due to the pilot or the dragonfly or the lack of a front door, or the risk of decapitation, or the weedwacker engine, but I am happy that it didn’t happen on my flight so I could live to tell this story about the time that I was eye-to-eye with the sky.

Twenty-Six!

Last Wednesday and I turned 26 years old. Give me a minute to let that sink in…. Twenty-six. Wow.

To be honest, I didn’t pay much attention to my birthday because I didn’t feel like it needed any sort of recognition. When people asked me what gifts I wanted, I politely requested that they save their money and/or buy something for themselves on my behalf. I wanted August 3rd to be observed as just another wednesday in the year because I felt that the age of 25 was normal and uneventful for me. But on August 3rd at 11:45pm I sat in my bed and reflected on the past twelve months of my life and I realized that I couldn’t have predicted such a great outcome in my wildest dreams. These things include:

I would like to thank everyone who was present in any capacity during the last few months of my life. I consider myself extremely blessed and fortunate to have the great opportunity to have these experiences at the relatively young age of twenty five. I know that I did not accomplish these things with my own power, so I can’t take any of the credit for anything.

My main goal in life is to use myself to inspire others and if I’ve done this for anyone in any capacity over the last 12 months, then my goal is working-out well. If I haven’t, that’s fine also because I’m a work in progress.

I am motivated to grab age 26 by the horns and wrestle it into submission, but first I feel the need to give myself a happy birthday gift to myself from myself to tell me, “I’m proud of you, self.” I wonder if Pluto is for sale??