Bottom Line

I’m a bottom line guy. I say that because it is one of my favorite expressions. I like to cut to the chase and get to the core of the issue. I like saying it so much that I can use that expression several times in a five minute conversation, which makes you wonder what really is the bottom line. It’s like digging deeper and deeper until you think you finally hit China. My luck, there would be a Chinese man standing upside down holding a shovel with a dumbstruck look on his face saying something in a sing-song like fashion along with the word “America”.

I use the “bottom line” tactic in a negotiating stance. The last time I bought a brand new car was nine years ago which makes me due for another one in a few more years, right? At the time, I went to the dealership loaded with ammunition convinced I wasn’t going to be taken for a sucker. After all, I had done all the necessary research on the Internet and had a good feel for what the exact car I was interested in should cost. Or at least I thought I did.

Like the coach who prepares his own team for a basketball playoff game by figuring which players are going to start on the opposition, I was mentally ready to shake hands with a tall fellow with greased back hair and a somewhat loud sport coat and a patronizing attitude. But, no! Instead, a short kid- okay he was maybe 25, but that’s a kid to me- approaches and shakes my hand and before you know it goes into a sob story about how he is in the military reserve and is waiting for his notice to be sent to Iraq.

“Bottom line- how much is this baby going to cost when you add in all the extras?” I asked “Uh, there are not extras. That’s the price”, he replied. “You wanna take it for a spin?”

We get in the car and has me drive over to the gas station at the corner and fills the tank up. He says, “well, if you are going to buy this then you are entitled to a tank of gas. So, let’s get this out of the way here and now.” Of course, I had not yet said I was gonna buy it, right?

When we got back to the dealership office he asked me for the keys to my car so he could have someone take it out and evaluate how much they would give me for a trade-in. The car was in deplorable condition and I didn’t expect a penny. They took a look at it and agreed.

“Bottom line- so how much is this gonna cost me?” I again asked. He replied, “It is what it is.”
Naturally, I said, “okay, it’s a deal.” That’s when he gave me a shovel and motioned for me to dig deeper because he was now bringing in “the closer” to finish it off and do the paperwork.

Now that I had a new ear to listen to me I once again asked, “bottom line- what is the total cost?” That’s when the guy with the calculator told me, “first sign and then we can give you what it will be with the City of Chicago transaction tax, license plate transfer, and other minor things.

That’s when I pulled out my own real bottom line and said, “Uh, here- I forgot- I have a letter from GM Card indicating that I am entitled to 800 dollars off whatever deal I cut. So, take 800 dollars off and re-calculate.” Naturally, the calculator guy gave me a look as if he had taken a swig of room temperature coffee. I think the dealer had to wait a while to collect back the money lost on the GM Card rebates from their home office.

I’m used to dealing with a lot of bottom lines, especially those in finalizing a mortgage agreement. The last mortgage I re-financed was about half a year ago. I must have put my initials or signed my full name on the bottom line on over forty pages belonging to all the pertinent documents. At the office where the closing was conducted, I didn’t get a chance to say “bottom line” to anybody. The lady who assisted me was also working on closing another party’s property. She came into the area I was sitting every few minutes or so and asked me how it was going. I desperately wanted to say “you know what” along with, “how much more do I have to do?” but I refrained and said “fine”.

Bottom line, I left my pen there.

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