As you walked up the driveway from the barn to the house there was an antique car that I had borrowed from a friend.It was fantastic to have it there-many people took pictures next to it,some for their Christmas cards.
I asked about the car and this is the story my friend told me:
It must be 10-12 years ago, I was driving to a Middlebury board meeting on a Wednesday night in the pouring rain in October. I drove through Bethel, Vermont, as I have done almost every Friday and Sunday nights for the last 35 years, literally! I drove by this green and black model A on the side of the road, badly needing a paint job. I drove by, and then it started to work on my head. I was not in a hurry to get to Middlebury, I would just go to bed later. I was by myself, so no conflicting points of view. After a couple of minutes I turned around to go check it out, got out an umbrella, raincoat, flashlight and returned to the car, checked it out, and wrote down the phone number, and noticed the asking price of $6000. It seemed intact, but in bad need of a paint job. The next morning, meetings didn’t start until noon so I got up early and drove back to Bethel, probably a 40 min drive. I called the number and the guy told me to swing by.
I stopped in the tiny First National Bank of Bethel in the middle of town and asked the teller if I could get a $6000 advance on my MasterCard? She referred me to the president of the bank sitting in the corner. I approached the president, and he said as long as I had an ID, and credit available, that would be fine. I don’t think I had ever gotten a cash advance on my credit card.
I asked the president if he was familiar with the model A for sale around the corner. He replied, “oh John Merrill’s car? Definitely! He tried to sell it to me”. Fully convinced the entire town would now gang up on the flat lander to exploit as much cash as possible, I asked with trepidation, “What do you think of the car?” He replied, “it runs well, but obviously needs a paint job. Have him start it up for you.”
“Is it worth $6000?” I asked nervously. “Probably” the bank president said, “but let me tell you a little bit about John. You should decide ahead of time if you want to buy the car for $6000. I wouldn’t negotiate. He doesn’t believe in negotiation. Either buy the car for $6000 or don’t buy the car. Let me tell you a story about John. I knew his now deceased father well. I was over there one day and John had 2 Indian head pennies that he was selling. John was about 9 years old at the time. These two men came over from New York to look at the pennies to buy them and John took them in the house to show them the pennies. I was outside with his father and asked, ‘Aren’t you concerned about John negotiating with this two adults from New York?’ John’s dad replied, ‘Yes, I am a little worried for the two guys from New York!’
“Any idea where I could find someone to transport the car to Massachusetts?” “Sure, Ed at the Sunoco has a flat bed.”
So I left with the $6000 in cash and went to the local gas station where I have filled up hundreds of times. They had a tow truck and flat bed, as do most gas stations in Vermont. I talked to Ed, who gave me the same story about negotiating with John. He asked “Do you have AAA prime?” I said I didn’t know. He said “Let me see your AAA card.” He said “you don’t have AAA Prime but I can call and get you upgraded. With AAA prime, I can put that car on the flat bed and take it to Massachusetts for free!” I said “deal”
I went see John. I said, ” I have talked to the president of the bank and the fight who owns the Sunoco station. They both said I shouldn’t negotiate with you, but I have to ask, is this the best price?” John said, you can buy the car now for $6000, you can buy the car in an hour for $7000 or you can buy the car tomorrow for $8000.”
I bought the car for cash, had it delivered to Massachusetts and here it is. The paint job is chapter 2!