Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Golden Skate Award Part 2

Car sales reality imortalized in print by David Teves. Read on:

Back in the 70’s at Hayward Ford we used to have a kangaroo court. If you thought someone had skated you, you could ask for a hearing after the morning sales meeting. This happened a couple of times a month. These mini-trials were wildly popular if only for their entertainment value. Here you would have two impassioned opponents each ready for bear hunting but in this case instead of bear it was each other.

When the sales meeting was over the managers would clear out. They rarely wanted anything to do with this, but they agreed to honor the outcome. The salesmen would stay. We had a big crew so sometimes there’d be twenty or thirty Car Men in there, downing coffee, smoking cigarettes and ready for a show.

Two or three of the senior Car Men would act as judges.

The accuser would point out the guilty party and state his case. Both sides would tell their version of the events, most of the time wildly different from each other. If there were witness they would testify. Then the judges would deliberate. Keep in mind that the sales managers would only tolerate us being off the floor for fifteen or twenty minutes, so there was no Perry Mason oratory going on in there.

The judge’s decision was final.

Sometimes you won; sometimes you lost. (I always seemed to lose, but as stated earlier, I got all the spoons.) It was accepted that this was the end of the issue until, of course, the guy who lost managed to get the other guy back. Car Man justice!

It was out of this that The Golden Skate Award came to surface. It was quickly decided that Mike Aahl’s find would be given out monthly to the man who best exemplified not only skating, but also the spirit of skating. In some ways a Car Man who was a little out of control was admired. Sheer craziness, if controlled, was something grand to watch in a weird, sick way. Car Men were always into weird and sick.

Like the kangaroo court, The Golden Skate Award was given out at a meeting at the first of the month. A few days before, a panel headed by our salesman emeritus, Hank Mederios, would gather to choose the man they deemed worthy to be singled out for this honor.

The much anticipated morning would come. Everyone would be in high spirits. Even some of the Grand Old Men of the dealership, some of who had been selling cars there since the 40’s when Hayward Ford was nothing but an old gas station on the corner of Mission Blvd. and “A” Street, would come to witness the proceedings. In my twenty-one-year-old mind I always imagined them muttering things like, “Young wipper snappers!”

Hank Medeiros was the perfect MC for the job. He was by all accounts a natural born ham. He’d been selling Fords in the East Bay for years. He loved to be in the limelight, tell a few jokes, and have a good time. He set the perfect tone for The Golden Skate Award ceremonies.

I wish I could tell you the names of some of the winners, but the sad fact is that skaters, though entertaining in a weird way, never last long in a dealership. They were like the itinerant gamblers of the Old West, always drifting from one place to another to apply their trade and getting out when the citizens got wind of the cheating.

Hank would tell his jokes, run down a list of the dirty deeds of the award’s winner. When it was finally presented it was met with laughter by all and the red face of the thought-he-was-clever winner. Busted! A second prize was give out, The Golden Key Award, to the guy who tried hard but came in second best. The glittering key was decked out with a fancy ribbon and presented with as much good-natured malice as the skate itself.

Prizewinners were required to keep their trophies in their office on prominent display for the next thirty days. There it could be seen by all, questioned by customers, and a little reminder that they weren’t as smart as they thought they were.

“The Golden Skate Award” is a cherished memory of my youth. These days, working mostly alone, there is no one to skate me—though I have to keep an eye on my boss, another Hayward Ford veteran. But I am certain that the practice sill goes on because skating is part of our tradition, and for Car Men, traditions run deep.

Talk to you later,



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uropatwin said...

thanks for writing this article!

uropatwin said...

thank you for writing this article. It was a great read.
grandson -Kelly