Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Power of Cake

The thing is, my blog has received more commentary (directly on the blog... I've always received a lot of e-mail from you-all privately) in the last couple of days than it has in it's history. I've talked about many things here, and I know that there is a moderate amount of traffic coming by, but food contraband seems to have hit a sympathetic note in all of us.

That being said, you should know that Mom got a new car about 10 days ago. And a Duncan Hines Lemon Cake played a significant role in the negotiations.

We negotiated and bought Mom's new car on Eric's Birthday; he played a significant role in the process. In fact, on "test drive" day, two days before Thanksgiving, Mom happily announced to Reuben - our supurb sales associate - that Eric was in charge of making the turkey. When Reuben professed genuine surprise, Eric countered by saying "I'm practicing on the turkey, then I'm coming back for you!" Everyone laughed.

In deference to Eric's birthday, I made him a birthday cake the night before. Duncan Hines Lemon with Cream Cheese frosting. I carried the cake to the negotiation; picking up Mom enroute. It sat proudly in the back seat complete with candles, matches, paper plates, & silverware. Arriving at Honda at the same time as Eric, Reuben our salesman was there to greet us. I got out of the car, then pulled the cake out of it's container. I walked into the dealership with it uncovered.

You wouldn't believe it, but getting a piece of that cake became one of the prime negotiation points of the deal! Yes, having the cake there started out a joke(and I brought it along to eat there because we had a busy day ahead of us and I didn't know when else we would have a chance to sit down and celebrate), but Eric made it very clear that only people that pleased him would be allowed a slice. It got to a point that when Reuben disappeared into the sales manager's office for a little while, Eric followed him and announced that his birthday wish - for when he blew out the candles - was that Reuben and the dealership to make him look good in front of his girlfriend and his girlfriend's Mom.

The sales & manager team wanted to cut that cake right away, but we refused. "Let's do business first, and we'll have cake to celebrate." OMG - LMAO! That cake sat on Reuben's desk right in the middle of all of us during all of the negotiations. Never once pushed to the side. The sugar smell permeated everything. And do you know when I knew that they were taking it seriously? We & V--, the sales manager, came to an impass on price and V-- declined to negotiate further. Eric said "Fine, then no cake for you. Reuben can have a slice as a consulation prize, but not you." For about three seconds, Victor's face actually cracked before he regained his composure!!!!!!! And Eric sat there grinning from ear to ear, satisfied that he had done his best impression of the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld.

Victor walked away, going back into the manager's office. We decided to cut the cake and eat it with Reuben. Stalling for time, obviously. The manager and his friends watched us from inside of the glass cage. We actually heard somebody in there saying to another "...and it's homemade too!"

Having eaten about 1/2 of our respective pieces, I looked at Reuben and asked how we could make it work. We just weren't that numerically far from each other, but we would absolutely leave for another dealership over the difference. Reuben knew that we meant it, too. He quietly advised us what our most favorable options were. All while he was chowing down and telling me how good the cake was.

In the end, we found a mutually agreeable middle ground for the price on which to settle. Do you know, though, that the final offer from Sales Manager Victor actually stipulated that he was to be given a piece of cake? In writing.

We all thought it was very funny, and decided to leave the remaining 1/2 cake at Miller for the staff to enjoy. After all, my own birthday was only two days into the future, and there would be more cake then. But the whole situation gave me pause for thought.

In fact, I truly believe that the presence of the cake - the permeating sugar smell - made a difference in the negotiations. It saved us money. Both Reuben and V-- were fit young men, and participants in one of the tougher industries to negotiate in. They were the last ones that I thought would have ever been affected by the temptation of sweets. But in fact, there it was. They were. There must be some kind of primeval wiring that we're all subject to that makes us respond to such stimuli.

And all this time, I thought that the overeating problem was just me. Well, maybe it is in that I gave into it when others have not, but the fact is that everyone at the Honda dealership wanted that cake. No joke.

And it was only later that Eric realized that he should have admonished them before we left that the car that Mom drove away in had better be a good one. That the only lemon of the day was to have been in the cake.

* * * *

And now for a quick sales pitch; if you know me at all, you know that my endorsement is not for sale.

If you're considering buying a Honda and are located in the San Fernando Valley area, Reuben at Miller Honda in Van Nuys was a supurb sales consultant and I would advise looking him up. Not only did he treat me with respect, listening to what I was concerned about during my first visit, but when we turned back up with Mom, he treated her with the respect that she deserved considering that she was the actual paying client. Talked directly to her; none of that age-or-sex-discrimination routine that I noticed at other dealerships. He was respectful during the sale, and has been available to answer her questions since the deal was closed. All in all, buying this car was a good experience and I would personally look Reuben and Miller back up again in the future. Of course, I might try bringing Devil's Food with Cream Cheese Frosting as my next cake offering...

* * * * *

Yoni Freedhoff - a physician specializing in matters of the Obese in Canada and author of the blog Weighty Matters - blogged today about obesity in our canine friends. I thank him for posting this link and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Yes, Adele. I think the dog's name is Runty.


janel said...

well geeze, I should have taken cake to the realtor's office when we were negotiating our house, our deal almost went sour and some sugar might have sweetened the deal.

Eric said...



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