Opinion

Shepherd's Heart/Smile ... and keep driving

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Last fall, while on a visit to the city, we decided to drop by an automobile dealership to look at new pickup trucks.

The salesman was nice enough, and asked all the usual questions.

"Where you from?" and "What do you do for a living?" That kind of thing.

When I told him I was a minister, he immediately -- in a round about way -- assured us that he was also a Christian. Then we were on our way to the truck lot to see what was available.

The units he presented were in the upper range of price -- I'm talking WAY out of our league, so I asked about the specials they had been advertising. With what seemed like great reluctance, the salesman guided us out of the back lot and around to the front of the facility, where the "specials" were all parked in a nice, neat row, facing the main thoroughfare.

Did I mention that his Christianity seemed to have faded by this point?

From that point on, it was a battle. When we finally talked turkey and an agreement had been reached, our friendly salesman turned us over to his boss. Again, business as usual Until I said I would be back the following Monday -- with a check from my local bank -- to pick up the pretty red unit I had just agreed to purchase.

That's when, as the saying goes, the manure hit the air-moving ventilation device.

The manager of the dealership tried to talk me into using their financing, then into leaving a $1,000 check to hold the unit (which was not in any danger of being sold, I'm sure).

Then he started calling me a liar, and saying things like "ministers shouldn't lie." When I asked him what I had lied about, he said that I had made an agreement to buy the truck, and that by leaving without giving him the money or leaving a deposit, I was being untruthful.

He even stood in the parking lot, holding onto the door of my vehicle and yelling about it being his truck now. I asked him politely to let go of the truck, to which he replied "You think I'm gonna hurt this old thing?" I replied that I just didn't want him to get hurt when I pulled away, which I did, to the sound of his voice yelling across the lot.

Did I mention that MY Christianity was almost fading by then?

Needless to say, the deal never came to fruition. I am sorry that my wife and son had to witness such an episode, but it was a good learning experience all of us, I'm sure. We learned that civility is an important ingredient in our everyday lives.

I know we all have days when we don't feel like being nice, or when the slightest thing being out of whack throws us for a loop. But if we call ourselves Christians, we need to let the light of Christ shine through our own ability to remain civil even if we find ourselves in an uncivil situation.

So, to all the believers out there, remember: The next time you come face to face with a belligerent sales manager who is threatening you with bodily harm and casting aspersions on your lineage, just smile and say "God loves you and so do I."

The latter may not be all that true, but it will probably shut him up.Smile ... and keep driving