I Was Wrong

“We’ve talked about trading several times. But the thing that always stops us is the inevitable disappointment we know awaits at any car dealer that is not M&M Motors in Girard, Kansas.”

-- “


,” It Goes Without Saying… But Bears Repeating, December 6, 2010

I found out I was wrong in Holton, Kansas.

From Manhattan, Holton lies about 50 miles windward of the Pott County Flint Hills. Founded by pre-statehood abolitionists, Holton evolved into a typical small-town Kansas production agriculture-based county seat. Just 30 miles north of Topeka, Holton’s described in 21


century Kansas demographic parlance as a “bedroom community.”

With nearly 140K miles on our ’96 Thunderbird, we’d made a conscious decision to drive it until the Inevitable Catastrophic Failure (my caps.) The tranny dropped in Allen County a couple of weekends ago as Jackie was returning home after visiting her folks in Girard.

My wife felt strongly about car shopping in a small town. We made plans to visit car dealers in Holton and Clay Center (leeward of Lake Milford and Fort Riley.)

We never got to Clay Center.

Inevitable disappointment? Phfft.

“You look familiar.” After careers on TV and as a political hanger-on, I get that a lot in my home state.

Not so fast, Mr. Ego-The-Size-Of-A-Rapidly-Expanding-Johnson County-Suburb. The car salesman at Foster Ford-Lincoln (No more Mercurys) was talking to Jackie. Turns out, in


previous career, my wife enrolled his daughter in animal science at K-State. The daughter graduated last month.


He takes us into his office. The walls are lined with photos of his kids and the prize ribbons they earned at the county fair.


Turns out he’s from nearby Atchison County and his brother-in-law’s cousin is one of Jackie’s former colleagues. They uncover a couple other mutual friends.

More line.

In the kind of casual, unforced conversation that happens naturally during these sorts of phenomena, we learn he owns livestock and was meeting a guy that evening to AI his momma cows



There’s no shortage of car dealers in Manhattan and Topeka who would have been only too happy to sell us a car. But because she’s true to

her values, her upbringing

, Jackie preferred to shop first in the sticks.

Our 2011 Ford Afterthought.

Two reasons: If we’re going to spend that kind of money in Kansas, let’s spend it in a small town. And whether it’s real or simply because we want so badly for it to be that way, it’s less slick.

More genuine.  

Think about the car salesperson/customer pairing. You have a short, finite amount of time to build what is, by definition, a transient, fleeting relationship.

The root of relationship is relate.

If you can relate, you can build trust. In this case, based on shared values. When that occurs, the actual financial transaction - the deal - becomes an afterthought. 

I've learned over the years to trust my wife's instincts. They've proven to be uncannily accurate.

Inevitable disappointment?


I was looking at the glass as half empty.

It was half full.