The alarm clock blasts Overman out of his dream. In it, he is being ripped off by the contractor who is re-modeling the house he will eventually lose in the divorce. Flawlessly mimicking real life, his soon-to-be ex-wife seems to have no problem with a forty-two thousand dollar bathroom fixtures charge, and to top it off, is wink- ing conspiratorially at the contractor. Overman is ready to threaten a lawsuit when he realizes he’s semi-conscious and due at work in forty-five minutes. He leaps out of bed, grabbing from his closet the standard-issue cotton blend white shirt, permanent press slacks and synthetic tie that have long been the couture de rigueur of his current profession. He accessorizes the look with a personal touch, Elevator shoes purchased online to prop up his sagging 5 foot 6 inch frame. Whatever embarrassment Overman already felt about his diminutive stature was formalized the day he received his lifted loafers in plain brown packaging, sent that way to hide its contents from snickering mailmen or inquiring neighbors. The stealthy nature of the delivery clearly branded him as a lowlife, indulging in some sort of abhorrent, illegal foot porn.
In a matter of moments, Overman is in and out of the shower and racing downstairs to the subterranean parking garage that houses his “E” Class Mercedes sedan. As he waits for the rusty security gate to open, he marvels how his is far from the nicest car parked here. How can people live in such a shitty apartment building and drive $100,000 automobiles? Auto leasing knew a good thing when it met Los Angeles.
The drive from old-school mid-Wilshire to Nouveau McMansion-happy Calabasas could take anywhere from a half-hour to three times that depending upon traffic.Today Overman was cruis- ing comfortably, having successfully erased from his consciousness the sales meeting that would occupy most of the morning. How many more ways could his boss continue to sell German cars to Jews? To be fair, it wasn’t just Jews. All manner of conspicuous consumers descended upon Calabasas, that proud Southern California bastion of white flight. But the fact that Overman was an intrinsically guilty Jew made him feel extra guilty each time he sold a Mercedes Benz to one of the tribe. The congregants of Temple Alhashem were undoubtedly his best customers; a living testament to the amount of energy Overman expended diverting them from the BMW dealer down the street.
Mostly he just hated his job. How did a once young man with such promise become a middle-aged hawker of zero down financing? After graduating from Columbia with honors, he had worked as an entertainment executive for the studios, segueing into positions with various management firms and talent agencies on both coasts, garnering ever more generous stock option grants and lavish expense accounts. Now he struggles to keep his eyes open as self- important gasbag Hal Steinbaum enumerates the latest sales in- centives being offered by Steinbaum Mercedes of Calabasas.“We’ll pay off your trade, no questions asked!” “Complimentary maintenance for 36 months!” “Free, All-You-Can-Eat Sunday Barbecue, with 16 oz. Stein-baums of beer!”
The fledgling sales guys, or Green Peas as they are known in the trade, seem to get off on these depressing pep rallies, filing out of the conference room with renewed determination and amped-up testosterone. Overman feigns his usual smile and pads back to his corner desk, away from the hubbub. He will pick up the phone and good-naturedly badger the couple who looked at the CLK convertible last Saturday, review his list of customers with leases about to expire, make a few cold calls from the leads handed out at last week’s meeting.
Overman looks up from his desk to see Douchebag-of-the-Month Rick Crandall flirting with Maricela, the receptionist with the insanely round ass. Crandall is a white trash middle-aged lifer with a tired wife and two ADHD kids. Maricela, a hard-partying and even harder-bodied twenty-six year-old, is best known for the ornate and provocative “tramp stamp” tattooed above her coveted rear bumper. She has a steady boyfriend, but is also aware of her power over all things male. On the surface she may be a lowly receptionist, but for all intents and purposes Maricela runs the dealership. It is common knowledge that Hal Steinbaum himself begged her to accompany him to Cancun one weekend when his wife was out of town. And that when Maricela turned him down, she somehow wound up with a raise rather than a pink slip. The unspoken truth is that every guy on this lot is her bitch. Maricela is at all times the model of grace and composure as she cheerfully answers the phone: “It’s a beautiful day at Steinbaum Mercedes.”
When has it ever been a beautiful day at this shithole, Overman asks himself. On the other hand, how could you blame the messen- ger? The poor girl didn’t make up that greeting, she was instructed to recite it by some dopey middle manager without a creative bone in his body. Overman has nothing against Maricela. She has al- ways treated him kindly, although, to his chagrin, like some benign grandfatherly eunuch. Conversely, he has been nothing but polite and gracious, which could not be said for the rest of the esteemed sales force. Overman admired her assets as much as the next guy: he just had enough class not to drool all over the showroom floor. At least that’s what he told himself. In truth, the respectful distance he kept was rooted in a lifelong fear of rejection and being exposed for the lonely, horny train wreck he had honed to perfection.
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