Initial Ramblings – Fall 2019: The Great Change
by JT Burkard
Many of you may have noticed that I missed last quarter’s column. Usually I am running late to the last day of the deadline, or perhaps a little over it. Poor time management, busy life, forgetfulness, writers block, the excuses can go on. Our editor, Jerry, has been very patient with me. Unfortunately, I didn’t even think about the deadline or my column this last issue because I wound up doing something I said I would never do. It took up all of my time and focus. Something that went against my core values. Something that made me re-evaluate my life. What is this heinous act you ask? Have I sold my soul to the devil? Well, not that extreme but close. I sought employment at a new car dealership. [GASP] Well surely you think I went to BMW, right? No, but it was a top choice if there was a dealer hiring at the moment. What about Mini? No. Mercedes? No. Audi? No. Alfa Romeo, Porsche, Maserati, Lamborghini, Lexus, Acura, Jaguar? No. Anything luxury or sporty? No. Ok, enough with the NO (channeling Grumpy Cat here).
So where did I wind up? Ford, yup Ford… sort of. How the hell did I wind up there you ask and what do I mean by sort of? I have owned Dodge trucks for 20 years so just walking into a Ford dealership was automotive adultery. Let’s be honest though, Ford makes very good trucks. There is a reason why the F150 is the bestselling pickup for decades. But, it wasn’t the Ford product that I was looking to peddle; it was something different, more challenging, more commercial. Tow Trucks. Those glorious vehicles that transport your vehicle when it breaks down or needs to be moved from one place to another not on its own power. I am proud to say I am the Jerr- Dan Sales Consultant for All American Jerr-Dan in Old Bridge NJ. [Insert shameless plug]. This isn’t that much of a stretch for me. I have a background in towing. From 1996-2000, I worked as a towing operator. I also owned 3 tow trucks myself in the past 23 years. Plus, I have done a lot of transport work. It seemed like a good opportunity to combine my 19 years of sales experience and my tow knowledge together. I certainly didn’t want to hustle Mitsubishi Mirage’s or Chevy Trax’s.
The first thing that I needed to get used to was NOT being the manager. For years, I have been manager or partner in some capacity for the other dealers I worked for/with. Now I have managers, many of them, and they have managers too. And the paperwork, my God, the paperwork, so much paperwork. I think hostile corporate takeovers have fewer things to sign. Plus, everything has to be precise, not “ish” as the previous places were. Finally, the hours. 40 hour work week? What are you, part time? If you are getting out in under 50-55 hours you are lucky. And it doesn’t end when you punch out. It’s all day and night talking with customers. The moment you wake up until the moment you went to sleep. I was used to that already though.
The upside, volume. This is a busy place. Even doing the specialty wrecker and flatbed sales, it’s got the business. Plus, I get to play with all sorts of trucks, not just Fords. On any given day I would hop into a Hino, Freightliner, Peterbilt, Kenworth, Internationals, and even Rams and move them around or drive them to customers. I am the road salesman so that means I get to travel this vast state, visiting shops, towing companies, body shops, etc. It’s a lot of fun.
Now, how does this relate to BMW’s? Being that I have a 30 mile commute each way, I decided that the E21 needed to stretch its legs a couple days a week. As long as there is no snow or salt on the road, I will drive it. I have to say, 17 years we have owned this car and I still get massive amounts of enjoyment every time I drive it. Crank open the windows and sunroof, get the radio going and cruise all the way up and back enjoying life. When you think you had a rough day, nothing like cruising an older BMW to put a smile on your face.
One thing about working for a car dealership that sells Shelbys and Roush is there are a bunch car enthusiasts there. Several of them, Bimmerheads too! The couple of BMW guys that work there already scoped out the ol’ 320i in the employee parking lot. Yesterday, the one Subaru sales guy said “You are the one with the Mercedes SLK?” I said yes, that’s actually my wife’s car. We have a bunch of stuff. Then I mentioned the E21 to him. He said “I didn’t know that was yours too, we need to talk later”. He owns Audis. It’s still German so it counts. My car guy status has been solidified.
Now that I have been driving the 320i more than usual, I have discovered a few things that need to get taken care of. First, there is an exhaust leak on the head pipe coming out of the manifold. A crack has developed and it’s leaking just enough to annoy me. I crawled under to see how bad it was. I even tried to use some muffler cement as a temporary fix. It didn’t work. I started looking for an Ansa exhaust to replace it with. Years ago I wanted to do a full Ansa system but was being too cheap and decided to pass. Now when I need to do it, I can’t find them anymore. The only Ansa exhaust is basically a stock replacement like the Bosal I have on there now. The down falls of owning a 42 year old car.
The other thing is I need to get a new stereo. The Blaupunkt cassette player that was strangely mounted under the left side of the steering column in 1986 is ready for replacement. Only 2 of the 4 speakers are working and of the two remaining, one fades in and out. Plus, the little 4×6 speakers are old and blown out so the sound quality is subpar at best. Being that I do not want to hack the uncut factory stereo location, I wanted to put a hidden stereo in it.. On eBay I found the perfect solution, a 5”x3”x1” 50 watt 4 channel mini amp that works with iPods, satellite, and MP3 players. Since I rarely listen to regular radio, this was an ideal set up. Hide the unit, run a remote mini jack to plug in your device and jam out. I just have to pick out the right speakers since they all turned to dust.
None of these will be fixed by the time our Whack Your Turkey Rally happens so I will just deal with it over the winter or early spring depending on when I tuck the car away for the winter. Now, if I can only get to that E28 project I bought several years ago, I can rotate that into the daily driving duties.
So for those of you who enjoy this column every issue and were looking forward to my adventures but missed them last issue, I apologize for being so caught up in the new job, I neglected your entertainment needs. Never fear, we have gone back to our regularly scheduled editorial. Stay tuned, more BMW action after these commercial messages.
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