I spent the better part of the day waiting for other people.

After weeks of diligent homework, my wife decided she wanted to buy a new car today, and so we went. This was supposed to be a formality because she’d already been pre-approved for a loan; had a check in hand. Even with that, it still took several hours from the time we drive into the dealership until the moment they handed her the keys.

I realize that buying a car is a significant purchase and shouldn’t be taken lightly, but if she were buying a used vehicle from a private party, the process would have taken minutes, provided she already knew she wanted the vehicle and was ready to write a check.

Why does buying from a dealership still take half-a-day or longer?

I understand that their sales process was created around the concept of wearing the customer down, making them yearn for the vehicle, and then keep it just out of reach long enough until you agree to their ~~demands~~ terms. It’s an antiquated sales system that still exists because the manufacturers still have control of the inventory.

This is not a rant about the retail automotive industry though. This is about time, and how it gets away from us. Because even though I had long stretches of waiting for people, I got very little accomplished. You would think I could use the free time to do something productive, but then you’d be incorrect. Instead, I spent my free time waiting for one salesperson or another to come back through the door to update us. Why get too invested in a personal project when I know the guy would be coming back any minute.

So I spent the time observing, listening, and thinking about what was happening around me. I was taking things in and maybe there might be a glimmer of inspiration from something consumed.

What I noticed most is the way people talk to each other. In this environment, the conversation varied greatly. There were the quiet and sometimes tense conversations between spouses, family, and friends, and then the tone would change as soon as the dealership employees would come around; sometimes friendly, and other times aggressive, with the overall vibe of the room changing depending on which individuals entered the room.

What I found most interesting is how quickly the tone and tenor of the employees would change depending on whether they were trying to win over the customer or running through some of the ritualistic jargon they probably repeated several times a day, every day for as long as they had been in the job.

There was this one moment where a customer was resistant to the purchase, and the young salesman had to bring out his manager to help bring the customer home. The manager was aggressive, perhaps a bit abrupt, thinking his curt responses would encourage a submissive response from the customer, but it wasn't working. There was a moment where the customer made an objection, and the manager responded with a counter argument so laden with BS I was afraid it might hit me from across the room. It was at that moment that the manager lost the sale.

As that customer and his partner got up from the table to go outside and discuss their options, I couldn't help think how I might have handled that conversation as a salesperson. There was no empathy in the manager's words. He just wanted to make the sale, and it was obvious.

Perhaps forceful dominance is the standard psychological approach of the industry, but I've been buying cars for nearly thirty years, and they still use the same tactics. It would seem that science might have come up with a different approach by now, but I'm not a car salesman, so I can't say for sure.

At the end of our long day, we were willing to deal with just about anyone as long as they were able to help speed up the process. We felt good about our purchase, and absolutely no buyer's remorse felt, but it would have been much nicer to have some individuals that were more relatable.

The further I travel down my own road, the more I realize what is truly important in life. This new vehicle is a utility, and though it has certain luxuries to it, it's not a luxury car. It's an object that helps us live our life, but it's not essential.

What I find essential are elements like self-awareness, empathy, and love. The more I know about myself, the better I'm able to find my way in the world.

The more often I'm empathetic to the wants and needs of others, it gives me the power of relatability, so I can interact with them in a way that works best for both of us.

The more I show love for others, the better everyone feels overall. Some people get weird with that word love as if it's too strong for most relationships, but I don't see it that way. I believe it's essential, and when I share with someone that I love them, it's out of appreciation for who they are.

Telling someone I love them may catch them off-guard, but when I share that moment of vulnerability, you can almost feel the interaction change, soften, as if any walls that may be between us just came down, if only a little.

Now I don't expect the guy who sells me a car to express love and deep empathy, but that's not going to stop me from striving to better relate.