Trust and the TransAm

My husband Mark doesn’t come to trust easily in the everyday world, but in some special realms he can build surprising bridges of trust with total strangers. Take the selling of one of his treasured Trans Ams to someone 2000 miles away, whom he never met.

Mark had his last two in a long line of muscle cars – all Trans Ams – in the garage, a ’71 and a ’78. He concluded one day that they deserved better homes because he wasn’t driving either of them more than a few hundred miles a year. The ’78 he sold immediately to a neighbor; we can still see it in their garage by looking from our front porch. The second one he held onto while he debated about keeping or selling.

In October, in the course of his “sell” research, Mark found a ’72 Trans Am for sale on e-Bay and contacted the seller to talk about how he, The Seller Guy, had set the price. (All the sellers and buyers in our e-Bay world are “The Guy”, as in “The Guy selling the Trans Am.”) As it turned out, The Guy was only selling a Trans Am for a friend, and was himself interested in buying Mark’s ’71. They continued their dialog offline.

The Guy then sent a hundred dollars or so – earnest money – as they negotiated. The Guy wanted to see more pictures; Mark posted 172 shots of the inside, outside, underside and every inch under the hood on his FTP site. The Guy sent another $3000 as they concluded the deal and tried to make arrangements for shipping the car and a considerable assortment of parts from New Jersey to Montana.

I don’t know how many cars you’ve shipped, but it seems that shippers take either parts or cars, but not both.

Months ticked by, and nine months later, in July, Mark got an email that The Guy had found a friend delivering a car to PA who was going to stop and pick up the ’71 in NJ to haul it back to Montana. The Guy wired the rest of the money. In August The Pick-up Guy showed up and the car and parts were lovingly handed over to the care of another stranger.

If you asked Mark (I did) what made him trust The Guy he’d never met, hold onto the car for months, and then load the car onto the truck of another stranger, he’d say it was that he didn’t do anything until he had money in hand. The Guy had to do all the trusting (and Mark was of course trustworthy.)

I think it goes deeper: they were members of the same tribe, who spoke the same language, and could be trusted because they established that each was what he said he was – part of the Trans Am tribe.