Friday, August 7, 2009

More Than Just a Car Sale

This popped into my head randomly this morning and it seemed entry worthy.

Pay attention to the people who blip in and out of your life. Even the seemingly insignificant players will often have useful information and experiences if you take the time to talk with them.

The event that formed the memory that came to me earlier happened about five years ago. I was attempting to sell my Elantra at the time, and this day was showing it to a father and son pair. The son was probably in his mid 40s, with his father easily in his 70s. They test drove the car with me, deciding to buy. We chatted a bit that day and made plans for the father to come back to make payment and get ownership transferred. He and I spent an hour or so that next day getting things signed and notarized. On the way we also stopped so I could book a rental care for a few days until I could purchase my new Civic.

Clearly Mr. Car Buyer was a bit player on the grand stage of "Jason's Life." But he made a strong impact. Turns out the guy was something of a genius and an armchair economist. A retired engineer, he was very well read and very willing to look soberly at the world as it was, not as he'd like it to be. He was convinced we were in a housing bubble at the time, a runaway system that had to correct itself at some point. This went against everything I'd heard at the time. The prevailing wisdom from family and even real estate agent and investment professional friends was that, at worst prices would stabilize some day soon. That the housing market had found a new level, and that one day prices would simply stop rising so quickly.

Mr. Car Buyer wasn't convinced and made a strong case in opposition. Turns out he was right. I really wish I'd taken his advice to heart. I might have sold my house earlier and started renting for a while, which was his advice. Instead I went back to believing what I wanted to believe about the world. Which turned out to be inaccurate.

Whatever issues your having in your life, talk about them with people. Not to dump on them. Not because you enjoy yammering about yourself, but because people are interested in other people's lives, and they often have useful contributions to make. I was recently telling one of my coworkers about Kate's burgeoning photography business, and mentioned how we were trying to find a good, affordable site to act as a front end for selling prints to clients. Another coworker happened to walk in during our conversation and chimed in that her mother had a photography business she'd been running for years and used a great service she was really happy with. I got the information and passed it on to Kate. Had I kept to myself and assumed no one was interested in hearing about my and Kate's life I never would have found out about Katrina's mother.

So the moral here is just to talk to people. Even the people that might only appear in your life script for an hour or two. They're still people with their own life experiences, people that could make an impact on you if you let them.

1 comment:

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