Before I met this car salesman, the word “vulnerable” conjured up two images — share your deeply personal experiences. And have the guts to absorb the whimsical reactions of the world. A car salesman widened my view.
My wife and I were strolling through the car lot of a dealership. His first words — “Would any of the cars interest you?” Stereotypical start.
I turned around to see a middle-aged man eager to shake my hands. I reciprocated. My wife and I motioned our hands to a white SUV we gravitated towards. The Houston sun was blinding and we used our hands as blinders to peep through the tinted glass. “Let me get the keys,” is all he said and was gone in a jiffy.
The long walk to the office took him a while. In the interim, we paraded the huge lot and spot-checked more cars. When he returned, he handed us the keys. While surveying this vehicle, I chit chatted about two other cars we would like to explore.
He said, “let me get the keys for them.” And left again.
I was dumbfounded.
He did not ask for my driving license, there was no one else in sight in the blistering heat. I had never met him before that day.
Earlier, while loitering the lot, I had mentally psyched myself to expect every conceivable high-pressure tactics.
I never expected this complete antithesis — left in peace with a fully loaded, high value item with full rights to the ignition.
The thing that gets me the most — there was no drama. When he walked away, he acted as if it is normal thing to do. Not even a moment of hesitation.
We all have our perceptions of another human in the car dealership. I was no different. Yet this man did something daring — he had one faint moment to make a choice when I had the keys — he chose to be vulnerable.
Until that very moment, for me, the word “vulnerable” conjured up two images — share your deeply personal experiences. And have the guts to absorb the whimsical reactions of the world. Great names have led the way — Dr. Brene Brown through her heart felt TED talks opened up vistas to many of us.
The car salesman did none of that — did not shine light on a deep-seated secret, a heart-felt self awareness or an oops moment. He chose to be vulnerable through a simple human act with all the uncertainty, risk and exposure.
I was impressed by his audacity, uplifted by his trust and surprised by his gesture.
Best for last: The art of giving
Sometimes, a small act takes up the most room in our heart. What made the salesperson take the chance? If our roles we reversed, would I? Would you? On my drive home, I wondered.
My thoughts wandered to my mom’s best advice on giving –focus on what is of great value to others but less cost to you. The value part is crystal clear. His cost was somehow lower than most of us in his shoes.
How could that be? Something I read a long time ago flashed back.
“The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”
Words attributed to the universal scientist and profound philosopher, Albert Einstein.
Now, I could feel the impact of those words and correlation between vulnerability and mindsets.
In the marvelous, simple act of a car salesman is a window into a mindset at the heart of his choice — choice to be daringly vulnerable and a choice to grant trust.