In the parking lot, bedecked with myriads of banners and club flags fluttering in the wind, like a circus newly arrived in town, there were dozens of cars of all shapes, sizes and colors awaiting customers.
From loudspeakers mounted on poles was blaring Madonna's "Lucky star".
A salesman in a green jacket, yellow shirt and pink tie, came up to François.
He took a good look at the Frenchman from head to toe.
Salesman: Can I help you?
François: Well, I'm looking for a second hand car.
S.: Foreigner, uhuh?
F.: Yes, I'm from France.
S.: Sorry, we don't have French cars. But if you like Volkswagen, Saab, or perhaps Japanese…?
François knew that Americans did not like French cars, particularly not the DS, which they thought looked like a suppository.
F.: I'd prefer an American car.
S.: Coupé, roadster, sedan, station wagon…?
F.: A four door. Something classical, not too expensive.
S.: What is your price range? We have cars for every purse and purpose.
François had learned never to trust a used car salesman.
And he had also been told to beware their selling techniques.
F.: Around a grand.
S.: That'll be tough, but let's see...
François noticed a beautiful faded gold Chevy, but pretended to be interested in the red Camaro parked next to it.
S.: Unfortunately, this Camaro goes for $1800.
The Frenchman tried to look disappointed.
S.: But I have this Chevy II, a great American classic, for $1400, if you can go up to that.
F.: Well, I guess I could. May I try it?
The salesman went to the showroom and came back with the keys.
S.: Leave me your passport, and come back in a quarter of an hour.
François sat into the driver's seat, turned the ignition, and left the lot. It was an automatic, so there was no gear stick. He checked the direction lights, the wipers, windshield sprayers, the radio...
He drove around a few blocks. The transmission was smooth. The power steering made it very easy to drive. All seemed fine. He drove back to the car dealer.
S.: Everything's OK, mate?
F.: Yeah. I think I'll take it.
He got his passport back, wrote a cheque, shook hands with the salesman and left at the wheel.
On El Camino Real, driving his own car, paid with the money from his summer job, François was feeling on top of the world.