I bought a car last week, and my interaction with the used car dealer left me a little off balance. He wasn't the stereo-typical used car dealer. He owns an auto repair shop, and sells cars off that lot. I don't think he was trying to trick me, or to take unfair advantage of me, so that's not what threw me.
It was the conversations we had about money. We had secured a loan, for which I had a reference number in an e-mail on my phone. As soon as I told him that, he seemed to waffle a little bit until he told me point-blank that he doesn't trust e-mails. So we started off the money conversation on the wrong foot. Plus, his business isn't affiliated with the credit union where I got the loan, so there was a good deal more paperwork than if we'd gone to a different dealership.
I figured out what had me off balance, though, as soon as we had the loan secured (paperwork in his hands). See, I had a sizable down payment to give him, but (since I choose not to walk around with thousands of dollars of cash in my pocket) I had to go to the bank. I told him I'd go around the corner to the bank so I could get a cashier's check for the deposit. Before I left, he asked me to write a personal check for the down payment amount (which I would get back when I returned with the bank check).
I had told him I wanted the car; I had spent an hour on the phone tracking down loan paperwork; I had written him a personal check. I had done all that, and still he was worried that I wouldn't come back with the final payment information. Bear in mind, I wasn't driving off with his car. I don't know what had happened to him in the past, but he absolutely didn't trust me.
The trouble, though, is that I think he really wanted to trust me. I think that through his actions and words he was really trying to convince me, and to convince himself, that he trusted me. But he let phrases slip that indicated otherwise:
* Upon receiving my personal check, "That's a good sign you'll come back."
* And when I turned over the bank check, "That pretty much seals the deal."
No, I think we sealed the deal when I gave him my personal check. It's not a good sign, or a 'pretty-much done deal'. In fact, to my mind we sealed the deal when I said I wanted to buy the car. He was selling, I was buying, and we'd settled on a price.
I was off-balance, I think because he didn't trust me. It seemed like he was watching me really closely to see how I'd be trying to cheat him.
Which brings me to my (probably un-answerable) question: why is it that we mistrust one another so completely?