Almost from the day they had bought it six years earlier, their current car, a Liberator model, had been very unreliable. Its instruments were constantly telling them things they knew from their own senses to be untrue. The gas gauge would indicate empty when they had just topped up the tank, or the speedometer would show them at over the speed limit when parked in their driveway.
Worse yet, the only time it seemed to run strong was when headed off at breakneck speed for distant cities. And even there it had proven difficult to control, swerving wildly and always smashing into other cars there. Most of the time it behaved as if someone else were driving it. Repair and insurance costs were becoming shocking, even awesome, with no end in sight. In a word, it was too large, and ill-suited for doing the protection errands they really needed to do closer to home.
So it was that they set out to return to the dealership that sold them their Liberator. The salesman stepped forward as he saw them walking onto the lot. "We just got in all the new models." he enthused.
Mr. America interrupted him. "The Liberator you sold us last time has given us nothing but problems . . . we've decided to downsize."
The salesman countered, "But the new models are so POWERFUL, the ads are all over the TV newscasts. Take the new Escalation for example, everybody's going to want one."
Mr. and Mrs. America both frowned. "The Escalation has a very bad reputation," said Mrs. America. "Our family bought one 40 years ago and it was a total disaster. We lost a family member in that one."
"Never mind," urged the salesman, "take a look at this one. It's another brand-new model called the Surge."
The name sounded intriguing, and Mr. and Mrs. America were willing to look. But when they saw it they immediately reacted.
"I don't think you're hearing us," spoke Mr. America, "we wanted something smaller, this one looks just like the Escalation to me."
"But wait," interjected the salesman, "the deal is, it may LOOK like an increase in size now, but in a couple months when the factory has a smaller replacement vehicle ready, you can trade it in for what you really want."
"Gee, I don't know," said Mrs. America hesitantly, "how do we know when the replacement model will actually be ready?"
The salesman seemed a bit less confident now and started to hem and haw. "Well you know, there are always unexpected delays in producing a new product, labor strikes, things like that. But our estimates are it shouldn't be more than a couple months, a year at the outside."
Mr. and Mrs. America could not bear the thought of being stuck with an oversized clunker for another year.
"No," said Mr. America, "we're definitely not going to go for the Surge."
By now the salesman was starting to sweat profusely. He knew that the boss had already committed the entire capital resources of the dealership to buy a fleet of new Escalations, together with Surges and all its other sub-models. They were taking delivery on them already on the back lot. And the word had come down that any salesman who did not push the new lines would be fired on the spot. So many dedicated, talented, experienced and hard-working career employees had been terminated already.
"OK, OK," stammered the salesman. "I've got just the thing for you, here it is, it's called the Augmentation."
Mr. and Mrs. America were becoming increasingly annoyed, even angry. They could not for their lives tell the fundamental difference between this Augmentation and the other models the salesman had already tried to push on them. It was still too big for them and the one thing they knew for sure was that they wanted something smaller that would give them better service at home. They just shook their heads and started to walk off the lot.
The salesman came running after them in a panic.
"How about a Boost? It's just a little Boost." he pleaded.
"Is it smaller than the car we have now?", asked Mrs. America.
"No," admitted the salesman, as his face turned increasingly red, "but the Boost is only a SUBCOMPACT increase in size."
"We're not interested in anything you've got," asserted Mr. America firmly as Mrs. America also shook her head.
It was then that they noticed another dealership across the street, so they thought they'd give them a chance. They told the salesman there, "We are interested in a new car, something less unwieldy than what we have now, and everything we've seen so far has been just the opposite"
"Yes, I know," said the salesman, "a lot of people are coming over to us for our flagship model, the Direction."
On first glance the Direction appeared to be much more like what they were looking for. It was at least somewhat smaller, but they remained skeptical.
Mr. America asked, "If we buy this new Direction, do you promise to give us responsive service, and that it won't turn out to be the same kind of trouble we have now."
"I promise," assured the salesman.
"OK," sighed Mr. America, "we'll take the new Direction, but you better be telling us the truth."
"Or else, we'll bring it right back again this time," added Mrs. America.