Though I'm not at all a religious sort of guy, back in 2003 I considered it a message from God when, right after reading an early review of the recently released Mini Cooper, I saw one of the rare (at that time) cars in downtown Salem.
Anyway, until today I have seen only one Mini-Cooper on the streets of Salem, Then, waiting for a light to change at the corner of Court Street and Commercial this morning, walking to my martial arts class, I espy a yellow Mini-Cooper with a white top tooling down Commercial.
I ogle it (though that color scheme doesn't do much for me). I go to the class. After class, I walk back along Court Street, heading for my boring Volvo station wagon. And there, going down Court Street this time, but at the very same intersection I saw it two hours before, is the yellow Mini-Cooper with a white top.
Clearly, a message from God. I am destined to have a Mini-Cooper. And not just any old Mini-Cooper, because God is good, and God is generous. And because I really want a supercharged Mini-Cooper, if I am to have one at all. Which I am, because God wants it so.
However, my wife wasn't convinced that I was meant to have a Mini Cooper, given the state of our savings account. So a few years later, after I'd started my Church of the Churchless blog, I made another stab at invoking a miracle with "Pray for me, I need a Mini Cooper."
Happy National Day of Prayer. In honor of this day I invite everyone to pray for a worthy cause: me. To make things easy for you I’ve written out the prayer, complete with annotations:
“Almighty _______ [fill in name of your chosen higher power], I beseech you to grant the unselfish desire of Brian Hines, who lives on Lake Drive in Salem, Oregon [this is needed to direct the prayer away from the other undeserving Brian Hines’ in the world, and also to make sure my desire is delivered to the right place].
“Please place a supercharged Mini Cooper, racing green with the sunroof, in his driveway as he has been beseeching you for so long [well, just a bit over two years, but the prayer has more pathos with ‘for so long’].
“Brian’s desire is unselfish because this car will bring him so much joy, it [joy, if the higher power asks what this admittedly grammatically imprecise pronoun refers to] will flow out behind his speeding wheels everywhere he journeys, raising the spirits of all who glimpse the Mini Cooper blur. I thank you in advance for your grace and remain your humble servant,_______ [fill in your name if you want to be sure the higher power knows who is praying].”
Sadly, after five years this prayer has proven to be a bust. No Mini Cooper has miraculously manifested in our driveway.
But entirely secular Social Security checks have started to appear in my checking account, which offer a much better chance of producing a Mini in my life. So today I decided to ditch my hope in the supernatural.
I put my physical body in our physical Toyota Highlander Hybrid and journeyed up physical I-5 to Portland's Rasmussen Mini for a test drive.
The experience was thoroughly enjoyable, largely thanks to Larry Larson, the Mini "motoring advisor" (they don't have salesmen/women apparently) who acquainted me with all things Miniful.
On one of my two test drives -- I wanted to try out both the base Mini and the more powerful S model -- I told Larry that I appreciated the relaxed, low-key, non-hard sell approach that I sensed as soon as I walked into the Rasmussen dealership.
Three salespeople were hanging out by the front door. One asked, "Can I help you?" Given my prior experiences with barracuda-like car salesmen who latch onto a prospective customer and won't let go until you violently shake them off, I somewhat nervously said, "I'm interested in a Mini." (Rasmussen sells BMW's also.)
A woman simply said, "Follow me," which I did. She led me past a bunch of BMWs into the Mini section, then introduced me to Larry. We started off with a chat about car-related this and that, reminiscing about days long gone from our decidedly aged perspectives.
The conversation felt pleasantly Chinese/Japanese'ish, not that I've ever had any business dealings in those countries. I've read, though, about how it isn't polite to jump right into negotiations without quite a bit of getting to know you talk.
I mentioned to Larry how I was turned off by a recent encounter with a old style salesperson, which I wrote about in "How to sell expensive stuff to someone like me."
If you're a salesman (oops, salesperson) who deals with spendy items like appliances, autos, computers, or such, here's some advice on how to close a deal with someone like me:
Don't act like a used car salesperson.
Or even like a new car salesperson. Forget whatever sales techniques you've learned on your own or had drummed into you by your boss. Simply act like a normal human being and treat me the same way.
Larry did just that.
He talked straight about discounts from Mini list price (forget about it) and the possibility of better factory incentives in coming months (probable). Plus, he seemingly stayed relaxed during my test drives, even though I wasn't comfortable with the Mini's rather quirky controls and likely was breaking some speed limits on the twisty, hilly southwest Portland streets he guided me on.
Just as I feared -- and predicted way back in 2003 -- if a Mini Cooper is in my future, it has got to be a spendier "S."
I liked the extra power, a lot, and was environmentally reassured when Larry informed me that tweaks to the 2011 Mini Cooper S resulted in both more horsepower and better mileage, which now is just a few MPG under the base Mini fuel consumption.
When I got home, I played around some more with the "build a Mini" feature on the company's web site.
I'm attracted to a white Cooper S hardtop with a black top. In the unlikely event that a benevolent divine presence, or a rich human fulfiller of blog post desires, is reading this, here's the specifics of the Mini I want:
Download White:black Mini S traction:zenon