A Sample Size: Comparing the Present to the Past

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“Hi, I’m looking for D…D…D…David.” 

“Excuse me, sir. Who did you say?”

“D…Da..Da…David, please.”

I was at the car dealership yesterday to buy out my lease. I didn’t hesitate when I stepped up to the receptionist to ask for David, the car salesman I was there to meet. I walked through the door and asked, stuttering freely. 

Moments later, I sat in front of David for the first time, as he had been texting with my wife to arrange the sale. I introduced myself and discussed what I wished to do—buy my car and purchase an extended warranty. 

David went on to ask for the usual personal identifying information needed to find me in the system. In the past, I usually asked to type it all in myself. Not this time. I rattled off my full name, address, phone number, and make and model of my car—all without hesitating and with forward moving stuttering. 

After I applied for the bank loan and we were waiting for it to process, David started asking me existential questions about life. David, a twenty-one-year-old new car salesman and college student, was eager to know what it was like to not have to worry about money—presumably because I was buying a car because nothing about me screams financial success from my presence alone. I told him something I’d heard that stuck with me, which I call the grocery store test. I said you know you have enough money when you go to buy groceries and you stop looking at the prices and just put the items in your cart. You buy what you need and don’t question whether you’re really going to eat the $9, ten-pound watermelon from Whole Foods, or even the fact that you’re shopping at Whole Foods instead of a lower priced supermarket. 

From there, David was off on a fast-paced exploration of figuring out what it takes to make it in life. How do you know when you’ve found the one? When should I move out of my mom’s house? Where should I live? What’s it like to have a child? Where did you go to college? How did you work your way up at your job? His innocence was testing my stuttering endurance, though it turned into one of the most enjoyable conversations I’ve had in a long time, in a non-car-salesman sense of the way (because he wasn’t selling me anything). 

After David, I was whisked away to the finance guy for another thirty-minutes of small talk. He was interested in what I did for a living, or at least it gave him an opportunity to brag about all the cool people that have come through the chair in which I sat, like a guy that helped capture the elusive cartel kingpin el Chapo (though I didn’t buy that story). Like David, I wasn’t used to the fast paced back and forth, but I more than kept up. In the moment, I was just talking and staying present, though upon this reflection, it had been a real indication of how far I’ve come, particularly following David’s barrage of thought-provoking questions. 

Four hours later, I had a sparkling clean car and a new monthly payment. I was proud. I have leased, and now purchased, five cars in my life, none of which had been this easy to do. It had always been a challenge for me because of their urgency to make the sale and the public nature of communication in the dealerships. 

Not anymore. I didn’t think twice. And stuttering played no role in my interactions with the receptionist, David, or the finance guy. 

Remember to take note of the representative samples from your daily life that show you when you’ve made it. Money has nothing to do with these samples…stuttering freely wherever and whenever I want does it for me every time.

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