Undercurrents in Fall 2003
by William Doonan
Jake, I got your message. Congratulations
on your promotion. Senior Associate Vice President has long been a dream
of yours. Youíre going to need a bigger house now, some very expensive
golf clubs, a time-share, and youíll need this car. An ordinary car will
no longer suffice. Youíll need a Thistle. Iím guessing thatís why you
called me. I know your machine is going to cut me off soon, so Iím going
to make this brief.
letís note that this is not going to be an easy process. Everyone wants
Everyoneís neighbor wants a Thistle, as do their neighbors. You can try
to buy one at your local Thistle dealer, but you will likely be shown
the door. Itís just not that easy. This is a special car. This is the
kind of car that says youíve arrived, and when youíre driving one,
youíll be able to do just that.
get down to business.
working at Thistle for almost a year now, long enough to know what it
takes to sell a car and to buy a car. Selling is easy. Sure thereís
paperwork involved, but the overall process is disturbingly simple. I
fear I might one day soon be replaced by one of those robots that take
your order at Taco Barn. Remember when they put those in, Jake? That
happened fast; it felt like overnight. I think that happened, but Iím
not wedded to the notion. Looking back, there might not really be any
robots currently working in fast food, but there sure could be, and Iíd
be among the first to bitch and lament. Given that, this is a car that
sells itself. And a company that builds a car that sells itself does not
require salesmen. Yet they employ me. Why? Because this car is not for
You have to
be absolutely sure you want this car and I have to be sure you want this
car. This car is nothing but attitude. It has that to offer and very
little more. As such, it demands the same; attitude, and very little
more except an ass-load of money well-spent.
sales transaction will be taped and closely monitored. If you make an
error in the buying process you will not get the car. And you will have
to wait six years before you even try again, and even then you might
make another error. So let me give you some pointers here. The first
pointer; weíll call this pointer number one, is that you need to be
doing a little introspection. So take your shoes off and light some
incense and think this through.
calling me suggests that youíre developing a broader perspective, that
you now have more information about yourself and the world around you
than you did some years ago. Still I worry. Remember back when we were
in college and you dated that girl Laurie? Can you even think about her
now without crying? She was perfect, Jake. What was not to like? On a
scale of 1 to 50 with 50 being the top girl, Laurie was 50 and change.
But you had never had a girlfriend before and so you didnít know she was
a 50 and you treated her like an 11. And after her you were looking at
one 12 after another with maybe a 17 thrown in every couple of years,
like that number last summer, the one with the butt. Point being, you
have to know know what quality looks like and feels like. Otherwise
youíll fail, Jake, fail to recognize it when it drives by. And if you
fail, you wonít be the one driving by, not in a Thistle, no sir.
know, Jake, that the sun is going to blow up in five billion years and
roast the whole planet? I think about that every day. Every car I sell,
thatís in the back of my mind. So letís nip this in the bud right now
because I can coach you all I want but youíre still going to have to
come into the showroom to buy, and our interaction is going to be taped.
So be forewarned that when you come at me with even a hint of concern
about gas mileage, the environment or whatnot, Iím not going to sell you
this car and neither is any other Thistle consultant. This car gets
really, really bad mileage. I shit you not, Jake, youíll burn a gallon
of gas rolling down the window. So just remember that the planet is
already halfway to the crapper and we can forget the issue of gas
mileage. If you mention gas mileage in the dealership, I will press a
button and they will shoot you with a little dart and you will wake up
at a picnic table at the duck pond. Youíll be looking at ducks.
This car is
so special. This is the kind of car that people who dream about making
cars think about while theyíre making babies. Tibor Thistleís parents
were those kinds of people, making Tibor the kind of baby that people
who dream about making cars make when they make babies. Following me?
think about it, Jake, you and I live in tremendous times. So much change
within the span of a single life. I can still remember when calculators
had buttons on them, and when rectal thermometers had little digital
readouts instead of soft reassuring voices. Back then cars were nothing
more than basic ostentation, a vehicle for oneís ego, an outward
manifestation of how you got from there to here. But Thistle changed
He made a
whole new kind of car. You know - the way he incorporated the fuel cells
into the door handles. Why did it take so long for someone to realize
that you could tile the roof with solar panels? It was all so obvious,
but Thistle was the guy who put it all together. Even the colors - the
reflection of the Sienna and Peach upholstery on the Umberine dashboard
Not to put
too fine a point on it, Jake, but it behooves us to discuss the fact
that weíre not going to be discussing horsepower. What really is
horsepower? Itís an antiquated measure of the power of a horse, which is
really both immeasurable and not of any interest to anyone except those
who still commute atop horses. Nobody sits in a Thistle and wishes they
could get from 0-60 in half a minute. If you need to be somewhere in
half a minute, you should plan your day a little bit more carefully and
maybe get a note pad.
has a little plastic wiper on each rearview mirror. One door. Jake, the
car has one door. Even a puritan might object, and puritans do. Oh, the
inconvenience! Jake, we need to face the fact that two doors, even four
doors makes a certain kind of sense, but they surely do lack the style,
the ťlan, the focus that one door brings.
I think I
told you this already, but it bears repeating - this car has a little
voice that whispers in your ear. It has speakers in the headrest that
whisper just loud enough for you to hear, not the person next to you.
Itís just for you. Itís a whisper you can trust, Jake, to alert you to
an open door, a forgotten seat belt, an unanticipated weight gain.
even get a Thistle with tilt-wheel steering.
Why do you
need this car, Jake? Why? Because the world is not what it used to be.
The whole country feels this. After the stock market scandals, the
airline consolidations, breath mint deregulation, church reorganization,
energy reregulation, and banking reamortization, Thistle Industries
restructured corporate operations, and sold off its produce and hosiery
divisions to concentrate on its core products; toasters, breath mints,
and the Thistle 900, the finest car the world has ever known. By
comparison, even the Thistle 800 was like a skateboard with a little
girl skating on it to make it go.
required a new philosophy of automotive salesmanship. Thistle Motors is
the company that came up with the 50% deposit, 50% interest financing
package. Take note, Jake, if you come to me looking to buy this car, I
will offer you rustproofing for an additional $298. You say yes. Itís
just the first in a series of tests. Say no and I will welcome you out
the door and move on to the next customer. And if you try to come back
in, they will ask to to go back out. And if you do not go back out or if
you try to come back in again, they will encourage you even more firmly.
Do we have to go through this again? If you refuse the rustproofing, I
will press a button and they will shoot you with a little dart and you
will wake up at a picnic table at the duck pond.
And to be
fair, itís not like Tibor Thistle just keeps all the money and uses it
to buy more stuff like furniture for Thistle Manor. He gives most of it
away. Have I told you yet about the Thistle Foundation? Itís part of the
sales pitch, or the sales experience as we like to call it. Youíll buy
the car and there will be profits. Lord will there be profits! But Tibor
Thistle is using these profits for good. Heís already wiped out gout in
Tourmaline, and dropsy is a thing of the past in countries like Simaroon
and Carambique. Thanks to the Foundationís efforts, literacy in the
Carolinas is once again something to write home about.
ultramarine floor mats come standard but Iíll offer you a spare set for
$180. You nod to signal your agreement.
This is the
way it works, Jake. I donít really get paid to sell the car. I get paid
to sell you the little things that make the car even more special. The
car sells itself. Just look at it; itís an art piece. Check out the
polish on the delateralized carbothrusters. Even your mother could see
her reflection in those. Feel the thrust of the intake valves. Look at
the whoosh of the hyper-domed alloy clutch; itís breathtaking. The hood
ornament was inspired by Gaudi himself. Thistle is a damn genius! The
four tri-camisoled antennas allow for unbeatable sound and whip like
thin metal tubes at speeds as low as 19 mph. Portholes - why was this
not obvious to earlier designers? Weíll just have to shake our heads
back and forth in disbelief because we will very likely never know.
youíve agreed to the rustproofing and the floormats. Weíre on our way
but weíre not there yet. As a Thistle consultant, I have to sign my name
on a little line confirming that youíre ready. I have to be sure youíll
appreciate a vehicle that brings together the convenience of an SUV, the
maneuverability of a Vespa, and the reliability of a Swiss watchmakerís
weíre going to have a chat. If your name is Lou, weíre going to spend a
few moments talking about Lou. Is Lou quick to anger? Does Lou know that
this car will be kept in a garage? Itís not a suggestion. Thistle Motors
offers a $900 reward to anyone who spots a Thistle 900 spending the
night by a curb or on a driveway. Youíll lose the car immediately if
this happens. Weíll take it back. This is all outlined, Lou, in the
contract youíll sign. You need to understand that the polycarbonate
composite body is impervious to weather and completely dent resistant,
so this is really about respect.
tell you as I hand you the waiver; you will promise not to adorn,
bedeck, or affix this vehicle to any manner of stickers, nor will you
sully any of the antennas with anything fluffy or flaggy. No pinstripes.
Youíll sign this or youíll walk away with no Thistle to drive away in.
Weíre going to have to talk about button and lever colors, there are
ninety options so we have our work cut out. There will be nothing in the
way of something hanging from either rearview mirror.
goes unsaid - you will hold your own cup, so donít even ask. No cup
holder. And if you want a place to hold your CDs, you get a hat because
this car is not about holding your things. Not this car, not a car whose
toggle shaft inverters glow both at dawn and at dusk, this is not a car
with a special place to hold your CDs.
This car is
about detail. Detail is Thistleís motto. They say he even named his cat
Detail but no one knows for sure. Heís quite a recluse --even Thistle
canít get him to interact. Youíll appreciate the Door Ajar light, the
way itís big and central to the console, the hope and the dream of all
Door Ajar lights that came before. When that door is ajar, you will
vulcanized the chrome epoxilators, and buffed the poly-pinions to a high
integrated change purse is woven from synthetic llama wool.
interested in adding some pinstriping? Were you not listening? There
will be no pinstriping. Air conditioning? Itís like an extra three grand
but itís so worth it. It keeps you cool in the summer and its just plain
unnecessary in the cooler months. Pay or walk, Lou.
with Lou. So Iím telling you this, Jake. Youíll pay and pay because this
car is worth your every last dime. Its the kind of car that Senior
Associate Vice Presidents dream about when theyíre still Junior
Assistant Vice Presidents. And they pray, Jake. They pray. And then one
day, god willing, they pay, Jake, and they pay. This car is nothing but
what Iím saying, Jake, is that you have to be ready for this, not just
ready for the car but ready for the car-buying experience. One last
thing, Iíll try to sell you some mints - Thistle Mints. They go for $6 a
tin and thereís only six in each tin, so thatís about a dollar per mint
and theyíre not worth it but you need to buy the mints. I was born to
sell the mints and the cars. Itís the last test. Buy the mints and you
could very well drive out with a brand new Thistle as well as six mints.
You promise to love and obey this car, to be faithful and change the oil
every three hundred miles, and you might have yourself a new car.
on the promotion, Jake. What Iíve shared with you this evening are some
thoughts. If you get this message, call me back.