A man who had to be at least 6-foot-2, 250-pounds and wearing a Top Gun security uniform intercepted me as soon as I walked through the door. With biceps bursting out of his short-sleeved shirt, he was intimidating, gruff and everything one would want from a security guard.
The fact that someone ran up to me as soon as I walked into the Beverly Hills BMW dealership didn't surprise me at all. However, I expected to be accosted by a man with a deep tan and a coat and tie. Or, a woman in a nice suit and a store-bought rack.
"Excuse me, sir? Can I help you?" he said while placing a hand on my shoulder.
Lifting my head to make eye contact, I saw a name badge that identified him as Ed.
"Well, Ed... is it OK if I call you ED?" I said.
"That's fine, sir."
"Good. I am here to buy a car. The last car I will buy. You OK with that?"
"Are you sure you are at the right place? It's just that we are not used to seeing someone in shorts, a t-shirt, and flip flops coming in here."
While taking a step back from Ed to get his hand off me, I laughed at how I must have looked to everyone inside the showroom. The first time I have been out of a suit in years and with legs as white as the snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains that can be seen from the showroom, I must have looked like some tourist from the East Coast trying too hard to blend in with the Southern California natives.
"I didn't realize there was a dress code when spending more than $50 grand on a car,'' I said. "Will my attire prevent me from purchasing one today?"
"Not at all. Let me take you to a sales specialist,'' he said. "Let me also say that I am sorry about coming up to you the way I did. Can I get you some coffee or anything?"
Sales specialist? What a joke. At a Ford dealership they are salesman. Here, they are too good for that. I can't wait to get out of here and away from all the superficial bullshit that is LA. But, if I have to put up with it for a few minutes in order to get my dream car, I'll gladly do it.
"No apology necessary and no thank you on the coffee. Just take me to someone who can get me into a car quickly."
Walking down a long corridor with beautifully furnished offices on both sides, it was almost surreal for me to think about paying cash for a car that I would never have dreamed of buying. But, here I was, just minutes away from driving away in a BMW convertible.
I can't help but think how ironic it is that it took me getting a death sentence two days ago for me to start living.
The transaction took just a few minutes longer than my interaction with Ed. With my trade-in and $30,000 in a cashier's check, I was officially an owner of a BMW Z4. It was everything that I wanted it to be: fast and with an incredible ability to handle the road, gorgeous, and most importantly... mine.
Climbing into it, thoughts of where I was headed began to overcome me. Bright lights, endless amounts of entertainment, and finally an opportunity to test my skill against the best the world had to offer laid ahead of me. I was brought back to the present when the "sales specialist" congratulated me on the purchase.
"You look great in it,'' she said. "How does it feel? You like it?"
"Oh yea, I love it. Thank you for your help."
"It was my pleasure. So, where are you headed first?"
"I am going to Vegas. Yep... I am going to Vegas."