The Case of the Elusive Car Salesman
I was pacing around Lexington, waiting for my local mechanic to finish the
latest repairs on my '77 Chevy Impala. My name's Yesterday, Sam Yesterday.
It was hot in Lexington, by that is not uncommon for mid-July. I'd had a
good several months, and I was in good financial position for the first time
since I bought that Impala back in 1977. That car had served me well, but
lately it had been failing. Maybe it was time for a trade, I thought; so I
walked over to the nearest friendly (sort of) car dealership.
As soon as I set foot on the shiny showroom floor, it seized me. It was the
most beautiful thing I had ever seen. A sparkling combination of steel,
leather, electronics, and a very large engine. The muscle car had been
revitalized in the form of a 1995 Chevy Impala SS. It was sleek, resembling
the type of car Darth Vader would drive. I grabbed the nearest salesman,
hopped into the body hugging leather bucket, fired up the 275 bhp. LT1 engine
and took off. As the 6-speaker CD stereo belted out Aerosmith the poor
salesman tried to sell me a car that had already sold itself. I had fallen in
love, it was the only car that I had loved since that '77 Impala. It had an
engine large enough to satisfy my primitive need for power, an image that
screamed "Hey you with the radar gun! See if you can catch me!" Granted, it
was heavy, it had watery boat-like handling, and drank gas like my Uncle
Bubba drinks beer. Still, I loved it. It wasn't Japanese, German, Korean, or
otherwise. It was a big hunk of purebred, American muscle car, dammit.
I picked out a nice shiny new one, called the bank and drove home in my new
wheels. I decided to spring for all the bells and whistles; leather, CD
player, alarm system, keyless entry, etc. I figured that if this car was
going to run as long as my last Impala it should be well-equipped.
As I was admiring the view from my office in the Financial Center, the phone
rang. I answered and was greeted by a rather hysterical woman named Diane
who thought that she had been cheated by her car dealership.
"That evil Car salesman has kidnaped my car!" she explained.
I calmed her down and asked what happened.
"Well, Larry, the salesman, picked up my Lexus for servicing, just as usual.
Also as usual, he left a more expensive car as a loaner. Later in the day,
I received a call saying that my car had been destroyed. Larry said that one
of the technicians had accidentally cranked it right up into the ceiling
while it was sitting on the lift. I found it hard to believe, but he
promised me a new model if I would just come over and sign the papers. As
soon as I arrived, Larry said that he would credit me the value of the car if
I wanted to by a nicer mor expensive model. I agreed and ended up with a
lovely new sports coupe."
"Nice car," I remarked, realizing that the salesman was making a tidy profit
on the transaction.
"Yes, it is. But I still miss my Essie."
"Essie?" I interrupted, quizzically.
"Yes, Essie was the name of my old car, the ES300, I loved Essie, and the
new car wasn't the same."
"You had a brand new $55,000 Lexus, which you got for only $25,00 and you
miss you older $35,000 Lexus?" I asked, beginning to wonder whether she was
playing this game with a full deck.
"Yes, I did. So, anyway, I read the article in the paper covering the
incident, and was struck by something. The general manager said that he was
baffled, because there are safety mechanisms on the lifts, preventing them
from going that high. I also realized that Larry would be making his regular
commission on a $55,000 Lexus, and not a $25,000 one, because the payment for
the ES was made by the insurance company after the sale. So, not only had he
made money on Essie, but on the new car as well."
"Interesting. Is that all?" I asked.
"Yes. If the accident wasn't really an accident, I want to know, and I want
a lot more than a new sports coupe, that car meant a lot to me." She
concluded, between sobs.
I agreed to take the case and drew up a contract. I thanked her, promised
to get to the bottom of the matter, hopped in my stealth bomber and left.
It seemed that the fist place to look was the dealership. I decided to go
undercover, and scope out the salesman first had. I called Larry and
scheduled and appointment to look at a few cars. I decided that I would look
suspicious driving up in my brand new car, so I borrowed a friend's old BMW.
I arrived at the dealership and was greeted with a phony, yet somewhat
pleasing smile. Larry asked me if I would like something to drink, and I
ordered my usual, a Coke with a splash of Vodka, and a lime twist. Larry
smiled, and, lying, said "That's a good choice, I drink those too." What a
I walked around the showroom. Looking at the stickers on the new rich people
mobiles, and realized that I had chosen the wrong profession.
"So. What would you like to accomplish today sir?" Larry asked, handling
me my drink. I realized that this was the nineties, politically correct,
non-pushy, Lexus way of asking, "Which one of these over-priced,
indestructible, warranty clad, Japanese tankes ca I sell you? Right now.
Now, not later. Now."
"Uh-huh. I wanna look at a car, but I'm not sure which one. I think it's
time to trade in my trusty beemer."
"Are you sure? That looks like a nice little car I might be a player on
that one...I think you look like an SC400 kind of man let's go drive one;
what color would you like?" I never thought that a person could say so many
things in one sentence before. I could tell that this guy was ruthless, I
could also see how he could easily have influenced poor Diane.
"Ok Larry! Let's do that!" I said as enthusiastically as possible, without
losing my composure. This guy was really pathetic.
"All right. Here's and SC400. It is a really nice car, great engine,
practically indestructible, fun to drive, great on trips...did I tell you how
dedicated the Lexus family is to you? We commit ourselves to what you want.
Want to drive it? Ill get the keys. Will you be leasing or buying? And
will you want to finance that through us?" Larry said as he pushed me in to
the leather wrapped cucoon.
"Here you are! Have a good drive. I'll be right here when you get back.
Be back in five minutes or I'll call the cops. Have fun!!!"
I started the engine, smiled and floored it. I watched the color draining
from Larry's face as I zipped into traffic and accelerated out of sight.
It's really amazing how fast one of those fat things can get to sixty.
As I drove that cushy over priced status symbol, I thought of how, exactly,
I would nail Larry with the crime which he had obviously committed. I
decided that if he was involved in something cooked, it wouldn't be too hard
to find. I also came to the conclusion that Larry isn't the brightest apple
on the tree, if you get my drift. With this in mind, I returned to the
dealership, pulled in at about sixty miles per hour and pointed the car at
the showroom. I saw Larry inside drop his coffee mug as he saw me and his
shiny brand new Lexus heading straight for the single piece of glass
separating him and his other new Lexuses from me and my obvious vendetta
against the car sales industry. Aerosmith belted "Livin' on the Edge" from
the 10 speaker 200 watt stereo system and the Air Conditioner quietly cooled
the car to a comfortable 72 degrees and I played with the electronically
controlled transmission adjustment, I decided whether to test this vehicle's
sophisticated Anti-Lock brakes, or its dual airbags and passenger safety
cage, or both. I decided for the brakes, as the brochure seemed to make a
really big deal about them
They worked well, I plowed onto the pedal and closed m eyes. The sporty
coupe skidded to a stop about three feet from that plate glass window, and
about seven feet from another brand new SC400. Larry looked up from the
fetal position which he had assumed on the floor, looked stunned for a moment
and resumed his mission to sell me a car. He straightened his tie, smiled
and headed in my direction. Meanwhile, I adjusted the Aerosmith volume and
tested the alarm system.
"HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK..."
Wow, that would
really stop a thief. Larry broke into a sprint as other customers began to
stare. Was I embarrassing this slime? Cool. I silenced the alarm, and
cranked up Aerosmith's "Love in an Elevator" in order to further embarrass
him. I was naturally surprised to see Larry break into a dance and yelled,
"great tunes dude!" I knew he was full of his usual schmoozing crap, so I
shook my head and turned off the ignition.
"That was some awesome driving back there! I was a little worried for
awhile! Heh heh heh..." Larry said in an attempt to break through my
salesman resistant emotional armor.
"Yeh...well...uh..." I tried to begin, but to no avail.
"The SC400 really has an excellent braking system doesn't it? Now if you
had plowed through that window, and struck something, the other safety
systems would have proven their effectiveness as well. Thank goodness you
didn't though! Ha ha ha..." Larry didn't seem to pick up on the fact that I
wasn't laughing..."On snow and ice it handles well to, the electronic
traction control system was first engineered for the SC 400, blah blah blah."
I tuned him out as he entered an other babble session. "Excellent this,
breakthrough that, blah blah blah."
"Great Larry. I think I like this little number. Wonder if I could borrow
it for a few days, so I can get a better feel for it?"
"Well, we don't usually do that, but you seem like an honest fella... sure
"Great! I'll call you in a couple days, and tell you what I think."
"Okay, I can come out to your home and actually talk turkey if the trip is
inconvenient for you. Here's my card with home phone, so just give me a call
I took the card, jumped in the car and floored it. Larry's eyes followed
me out of the lot and he looked as if he really wished he hadn't given me
I started up my Aerosmith and formed a plan. I decided to return to the
dealership after closing and investigate. I realized that I had left my
friend's car at the dealership and decided that I had to retrieve it before
someone noticed it. First, I swung around to my place and picked up the
It felt great to be once again behind the wheel of a car the size of my
apartment. I really detest sporty, fuel efficient, small Japanese
luxury-sportmobiles. I picked up my buddy and drove him to the Lexus place
to get his car. Having done so, I drove to Larry's house, allowing that he
was still at work.
I was in luck, no one was home. Larry lived in a nice little home in a
lovely little development off Nicholasville Road. He had no alarm system and
his door locks were a joke. I Rifled through his desk and noticed that he
had been doing very poorly for awhile, in fact he was nearly broke before
Diane's car got destroyed. Hmm..I thought. I also noticed that Larry had
received a new car as a company bonus just after selling the SC to Diane.
Hmm...I thought again... Just then I heard the hum of and overpriced car
entering the driveway and decided to make a hasty retreat through the back
Larry smelled guilty to me, and I couldn't help feeling as though I was
about to stumble upon a conspiracy. I decided to call my fiend at the Police
Station to see if they know any thing about this, or if Larry had a criminal
"Hey Sam! No , we haven't heard anything about a conspiracy at the Lexus
dealer's, but if you find anything, let us know okay?" Buddy replied in his
usual cop manner, feeling that although P.I.'s do more work and solve more
cases, they are the scum of the earth and should be watched closely.
Granted, we don't use the most ethical of evidence collection methods, but
nobody's perfect, right?
"Sure thing Buddy. How about a record on the Larry guy?" I asked,
wondering if Larry was more crooked than just a simple car salesman.
"Nope, he's as clean as a sleazy car salesman ca be. Sorry Sam" Buddy
replied he didn't seem to be to upset about being unable to provide me with a
"Bye Buddy." I hung up the phone, realizing once again how much I hated the
As it was nearing dark I resolved to make a trip to the Lexus dealership to
round up some conclusive evidence enabling me to solve the case and take a
trip to Hawaii. I was sure that this wouldn't happen, but it seemed like a
nice dream so I gassed up the Impala, ate dinner, and drove toward
I pulled around to the back door and noticed that the dealership had a very
fancy alarm system.
"Damn," I muttered to myself, alarm systems can be a major hassle. I went
back to the car and got my high-tech black bag of tricks from the trunk.
From this I removed my multi-purpose computer interface device, a small
black box enabling me to connect m note book computer to just about anything
I liked, from an ATM machine to an Elephant's tongue. (Don't ask...)
My next task was to find the nearest available alarm wire to splice into. I
was pleased to find, instead of the above, an alarm company exterior control
interface box with a small lock on it. My electronic lock pick tool made
short work of that, and within seconds my notebook was displaying the entire
alarm configuration of the building.
I sent the notebook to work on decoding the alarm security code, while I
called the security company. While I was searching for the cable linking the
alarm's brain to the phone line I talked to the dispatcher, trying to divert
his attention from the blips I was creating on his computer screen
"Yes, we have code 4 security breach on level eight, sector 2 building 7 at
client number 26342. Yeah, that's right. We'd also like a large cheese
pizza with extra sauce. Thank you very much," I hung up on a very confused
young man, who was undoubtedly still scratching his head and looking up
client number 26342.
The alarm telephone cable was not difficult to locate, and within seconds it
was interfaced with my notebook, and I was inside the building.
I went straight for the computer system and powered it up. I hooked into
the worldwide Lexus satellite network and typed in the vehicle identification
number for Diane's Lexus. I was correct in assuming that Larry was an idiot.
He had neglected the obvious and left Essie's computer file completely
intact on the Lexus-net. The full record for the ES300 appeared in front of
me. It had indeed gone in for service on May 16, and had on that same day
been sold back to the dealership and sent to Anchorage, Alaska. The computer
also stated that Essie was still on the lot of the Lexus dealership there,
awaiting sale as a Lexus-Certified Pre-Owned car.
I printed a copy of my findings, and tapped into the company's financing
software, I found that the dealership had received thirty thousand dollars
for replacement of the ES300, Diane's ES300, that they said had been run into
the roof of the service department. They had then rebated this amount off of
the price of a new $55,000 SC300 for Diane. The dealership made their
profit, and Larry made his. The insurance company picked up most of the tab,
and Diane paid the other $25,000. Larry also ended up with a nice bonus
after this sale consisting of a new GS300.
I printed a copy of this repot as well, stuffed the papers into my black bag
and started toward the service department. I fired up the hydraulic lift and
pressed the up button. Not only did it not reach the ceiling, it was
incapable of going over six feet off the ground. This was due to the fact
that the lift shaft was only six feet long! I took a few photos of this
phenomenon, turned off the lift and headed toward the door.
As I was walking I heard someone enter. It was Larry., I heard him say,"So
you've figured me out, huh? Well, we'll see about that! No one tricks Larry
Lundergan, no sir," He babbled on, pretending that he knew what he was taking
about. What a moron. As he babbled, he paced around the room and paced off
toward the showroom. Again, what a moron. I slipped out the door behind
him, hopped into the Impala, and floored it. Just for and added flair, I
once agin headed straight for the showroom glass at sixty, and once again I
swerved out of the way just as Larry hit the dirt.
I picked up my car phone and called a buddy of mine in Anchorage. I asked
him to fax me photos of a 1994 Lexus ES300, VIN JTK38A34K4498LJE5. I told
him the entire story and asked him to got the dealership and take pictures of
the car, including the VIN plate. He consented and agreed to fax me the
pictures, in exchange for the usual monetary reimbursement.
I returned to the office and began to type my report including copies of the
insurance claim, the insurance company's returned check, the bill of sale
from the Lexus dealership in Anchorage, and the pictures of Diane's Lexus on
the Anchorage lot. As dawn broke I called the Lexus Store of Anchorage, and
told them not to sell that car, as they didn't legally own it. I faxed them
a copy of my report and they consented to hold the car until further notice.
I then faxed Diane a copy of the report, as well as the bill for my
services. Next, I made another call to Buddy, explained the situation faxed
my report and asked him to arrest Larry and all other involved parties.. He
wasn't happy about it, but he couldn't resist a big arrest, even if it did
require missing he donut break.