A search for a car leads Sarah Torbeck to an unexpected encounter in the most unlikely of places: a car dealership.
Admit it. As soon as you read the phrase, your mind immediately conjured up images of slick, fast-talking individuals—brimming with facts and figures, but lacking in ethical standards. We’ve all be there, and right or wrong, we usually pivot to that stereotype. Please don’t misunderstand, I know that not every car salesman falls within these parameters, but the pejorative connotation is hard to miss.
And so, with this preconceived notion firmly in place, I walked into a car dealership. I immediately felt vulnerable and unprotected. My late husband had always handled the car salesmen in the past. But he was no longer here, and I was in desperate need of a car. I heard the low swish of the glass doors as I stepped into the showroom and looked around. I silently wondered if I looked like a pigeon. I certainly felt like one, and I was pretty certain that I had just walked into the lion’s den.
I steeled myself and tried to look casual. I stood up straight and lifted my chin. I was going for an air of sophistication, but in retrospect I think I looked kind of snooty. Nevertheless, an unassuming young man approached me, and initiated a conversation.
I was immediately caught off guard. The salesman was soft-spoken, with kind eyes, and an approachable demeanor. Maybe they’ve developed a new shtick, I thought, for pigeons like me. I answered his questions cautiously as I followed him over to his office. My spidey-senses were on high alert.
Sensing my discomfort, the young man, asked me if I wanted a glass of water. I deferred, and continued to fret inwardly about my predicament. Why did I do, this? I wondered. And for the millionth time, I felt a sharp twinge in the lower portion of my heart. It happened every time I missed my husband.
I looked up at the salesman and decided to take a chance: “My husband died over a year ago,” I blurted out, “and I’ve never had to buy my own car—but—but I know I’m not supposed to trust car salesmen.” Then I added a pathetic smile, since I realized that I had just insulted him.
The young man leaned back in his chair, and laughed. I was immediately relieved, and I finally relaxed a little. “No one is going to make you do anything you don’t want to do,” he smiled. I just need some information about you.” I decided that I could answer a few standard questions, so I agreed, as he turned to his computer and began the interview.
We covered the usual information, and I added that I was no longer working regularly, “But I am a writer,” I noted. This admission made him pause, and he turned to look at me with renewed interest.
“You’re a writer?” He asked. I wondered what I had said to make him pause, so I answered him cautiously:
“Ummmm … yes?" Then we both laughed.
“I’m a writer too,” he confided, "but I’m still in the journaling phase.”
I relaxed even more, and before I realized it, we were suddenly immersed in animated conversation about our shared craft. I gave him some advice and encouraged him to start a blog. For his part, he managed to put me at ease, and the overall tenor of the afternoon eased dramatically as we exchanged methods and ideas.
Click to tweet:
I was chagrined by the remarkable difference between my preconceived notions and the soul that sat before me. #catholicmom
At some point I realized that it was time for me to leave, and I felt a pang of disappointment. I wasn’t going to buy a car that afternoon, but the day still felt productive. I found myself delaying my departure. My car salesman friend finally smiled, and said, “Before you go, I’d like to share something with you,” and he pulled open a desk drawer. He withdrew a yellow pad, and said, “This is what I wrote just a few moments before you came into the dealership.” He handed the pad to me with a sheepish grin, and I began to silently read the neatly penned words:
Your life is more precious than the rarest diamond. Never lose your spirit and never waste your mind. Treat with justice—all who share your air, space and time. Die a death worth living—one that awards you [with] eternal Unity. (Omar Scruggs)
I sat quietly in my chair, overcome by the beauty and simplicity of the words and chagrined by the remarkable difference between my preconceived notions and the soul that sat before me. More clichés about not judging a book by its cover come to mind, but I think there’s been enough stereotyping in this little ditty.
Every soul is exquisite, made in the image of God. Some have chosen a different path, but others are listening, and thriving in the Light of the Creator, if only we have the time and the sense to appreciate it, before it slips out of view.
Copyright 2022 Sarah Torbeck
About the Author
Sarah Torbeck is a mother, a grandmother, and a widow. She spent her early-adult years immersed in the esoteric religions. Through the Rosary and a miraculous intervention by the Blessed Virgin Mary, she was led into the Catholic Church. She was home! Sarah was a writing teacher, and currently writes about her faith and love for God—for He is merciful, even to His tiniest sparrow.