Deal of a lifetime

April 11, 2006 at 2:14 am (Uncategorized)

I had this friend way back who was convinced that sooner or later, the big break was going to come his way. He was always in the middle of one Dollar_Sign_Green.gifscheme or another and I usually went along for the ride. One time, it was produce crates discarded by grocery stores. Somehow, my friend became convinced that by collecting these and re-selling them to independent markets, we'd both be eating caviar off the bellies of supermodels and cruising around in yachts in no time. After that, it was some lame ass pyramid scheme that I never quite understood. My buddy just told me to shut up and contribute $50 or he'd lock the refrigerator so I couldn't have any more beer. I forked up the dough and that's the last I saw of it. There were a few rumblings in the Waterville paper about police thwarting some money racket and my friend abruptly stopped talking about fat cigars and models with fish eggs in their navels.

I generally supported the guy in all these ambitions and somewhat respected his lofty goals. If you're going to fish in a mud puddle, as they say, you might as well fish for whales. But I reached my limit the time the sales.jpg dude dragged me to a meeting he insisted would change our lives. At the meeting, a group of cardboard stiff men and women with smiles that looked like they'd been manufacture instructed the eager group that we could make millions enticing people to time share condos. On and on they went, with those Stepford smiles and grand promises. For three hours they went on, during which time I don't recall any beer being offered. It was horrible. I didn't understand a word they were saying and I had no interest in buying a $50 suit and the $300 smile required for this kind of work.

These kinds of sales pitches have always caused me the kind of revulsion you might expect if you woke up to find your mouth full of termites. It's not what they are selling, but the oozing way it is being sold. When Corey and I were in Niagara Falls a few years ago, a VERY HAPPY LOOKING COUPLE approached us in a parking lot. At first, I thought they were going to offer us drugs, which would have been nice. Looking at the falls sober just ain't no good. But this pristine couple, who nodded synchronized nods and smiled identical smiles, offered us a hundred dollar meal at the top of a timeshare.jpgrevolving restaurant if we'd just sit through 90 minutes of video offering us the chance to live out our most sublime dreams through the thrill of time sharing bliss. At which point, I ran screaming into the falls and became the only person to ever survive the drop while screaming one long string of profanity.

In Vegas last year, another pair from the Time Share Mafia accosted us outside the hotel. The smiles. The nods. The tweed. For just sitting through a 90 minute introduction to the joys of time share, they would give us — without any expectations at all — a hundred dollar spending money and tickets to a comedy show. Corey and her parents bit like stupid, stupid fish. I pointed toward a casino and yelled: "Hey! Isn't that Wayne Newton?" and fled while everyone was looking for the 150 year old Vegas crooner.

Anyway, the other three simpletons returned FOUR HOURS LATER after having been kidnapped by the time share people. They were exhausted. They were bloody from having been pummeled by the high pressure sales fist. They wept and babbled like monkeys, speaking only coherently enough to tell me that I was right and they were wrong. They should have never fallen for it. They should have never been seduced by the time share smiles.

Saps. But this brings me to my point. A few weeks ago, I was hanging around a store, shoplifting, chatting with someone, I don't remember what. There was a raffle box on a counter so I filled out a little ticket. Hey, I could win a snowmobile! Try catching me next winter if I clap my hands on an Arctic Cat, sucker.

I completely forgot about the raffle by the time I walked out of the store. But early this week, a woman called me at work. She was gleeful and effusive. I could hear the toothy smile. Congratulations, she said. I was on my way to winning that snowmobile and had, in fact, already won some big prizes. An ipod and some cash, perhaps. Or a laptop computer and digital camera. And all I had to do (by this time I was doodling pictures of the devil on my notebook) was show up at a conference center in Portland to sit through a 90 minute time share lecture presented by, I assume, time share experts so special, they had to be flown in from another galaxy.

So, I could pick up my loot and go for the big prize. All I have to do is sit through 90 minutes of information about real estate opportunities I should, quite frankly, feel privileged to be in on. And so on. And so forth. I polled some people in the newsroom and they were split. Go for it, you lucky dog, said half of them. Run away screaming, said the other. And that's because half the world is like my old friend who once thought we could get rich by pilfering produce crates. The other half is like me, who think submitting to propositions like these is analogous to selling part of your soul. devi-logo.gif

And so, I turn to the group with the most savvy of them all: you bloggers and all your world wisdom. Do I go collect my prizes and grit my teeth for an hour and a half? Or do I stay to hell away from Stepford and keep my sanity and self-respect intact?

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45 Comments

  1. Linda said,

    I wouldn’t do it. I sat through a time share pitch one interminable rainy morning, and the payoff was very nice, but it was truly awful. Squirm-in-the-chair awful.

    Nobody needs an Arctic Cat that bad. Or, if you do, there are many less painful ways to acquire one.

    That’s my opinion anyhow.

  2. Mainetarr said,

    test

  3. Mainetarr said,

    Oh yeah, NOW it works. Anyhow…..

    Here’s a thought for you. It’s in Portland, right? Here’s the deal Calvin. I will drive you there. On the way, you drink all the Allens you can get into you without puking. When we get there, you will be smashed, I will drop you off and go shopping. I’ll pick you up in 90 minutes. You can sit there and sleep or giggle, whatever you feel most inclined to do, and then grab your prizes. I’ll scoop you up, hit the Drunkin Donuts drive through, get you a coffee and it will be done. Sound like a plan?

  4. A.O. said,

    Last night I called him a goober for even considering going to this presentation. But, after reading your idea, Mainetarr, sounds like it could be lot’s of fun. Hey, I’ll even go along and sit through the presentation. I’ll bring the beer. I hate those raffle box people. They’re so pushy.

  5. Bulldog said,

    Flamer, don’t do it!!!

    My husband filled out that same chance. We got the same phone call as you. He wanted to win that snowmobile, so he made an appointment for us to go. I reminded him that we did this same thing 3 years ago.

    We went then to that same place in Portland (which, by the way, is located right next to Mark’s Showplace- can’t remember the new name of that strip club). Unless you want a time share in Rangeley Lakes Region, don’t go. Unless you want to dish out 3 hours + and possibly $30,000, don’t go.

    Oh, by the way, the “prize” we ended up getting was a pair of watches, worth $100 (which is bullshit- I could have gotten that same pair at a KMart blue light special for $10) So, you “lucky” bastard, do what you want but don’t come crying and babbling to me when they’re through with you.

  6. K2 said,

    Prizes? Where?

    Don’t fall for it, man. The price for ‘free’ gifts is just too high.

    I had a friend years ago who fell for the cult of Amway. He’d ask our other friends to go to these meetings, and they’d be like, ‘It isn’t Amway, is it?’ and he’d be like, ‘No, no, it’s not, I swear,’ and then they’d foolishly go to the meeting and yep, it was Amway.

    MT, I’ve declared this cold as the worst I’ve had in 10 years. Absolutely brutal. And caring for two sick kids when you’re totally sick and want to crawl in bed and die? Hell on earth.

  7. Bulldog said,

    K2, you want a little cheese with that whine?

    If you’re looking for sympathy, the only place you’ll find it is in the dictionary between shit and syphillis.

    wimp

  8. Bobbie said,

    My husband is good for filling out forms on line, hoping to win something. So far, we have had 3 calls about either getting a vacation to some luxurious place or getting free airline tickets.

    For the vacation, we would have to sit thru the 90 minute presentation and even if we didn’t want what they were offering, we could pick up our prize and walk with no further obligation on our part. And since this 90 minute event that would change our lives forever was being held in the Denver area, hey, they’d even give us a $100 voucher for gas if we were willing to drive almost 3 hours to get there (not to mention the almost 3 hour drive back as well).

    I had to laugh about the airline ticket offer. When they called, it was a Maine number that came up, with some poor soul in the outbound department of the call center in Auburn (did you know that they used to answer the phones for Matthew Lesko’s book at one point in time? I digress….sorry) on the other end. Once I figured out what he was saying (sorry, been away too long and sometimes if the accent is too thick, I have a problem for the first few minutes understanding people, but give me a day or so when I get back and I’ll be right back in the swing of things LOL), I told him that my husband was not home and would not be home until 9 that night. Since the guy on the other end of the phone only worked until 9 PM eastern time, that wouldn’t work. So I told the guy that he would need to call back the next day between 12 and 1 my time. The guy promised that he would call back then and hung up. For the rest of the afternoon, they kept calling me and I kept letting the phone ring. Since they could only talk with my husband about this wonderful offer, I never found out what he was going to have to do to get his 2 free plane tickets to anywhere.

  9. Bobbie said,

    K2,
    Speaking from personal experience only, I’ve found that most men are wimps when it comes to getting sick. I give my husband 3 days to get better (if it’s not somethingl ife threatening) to get better or I kick him out of the house until he does getter better. Three days of him whinning is all I can take.

  10. K2 said,

    Bulldog and Bobbie, sorry, I didn’t realize you two were Amway reps.

    Come on, if you squeeze a grape, it let’s out a little whine.

    And I’m out of Vagisil. Midol, here I come. . . .

  11. Bobbie said,

    Tried Amway once and it sucks. The products are good, but the business ends needs some work. LOL

  12. Gil said,

    You’ve got to go Mark. Think of all the fun you can have and all the disruptive chaos you can cause by asking mean-spirited and in depth questions. One thing these people hate is questions. And in the meantime, you’ll be helping your fellow man by discouraging the other fools, I mean prospective clients, who have shown up thinking they are going to get a snowmobile. Don’t forget to ask about maintenance fees and other fees. And be sure to make them tell everyone that once you are in, there’s no way to get out or else they wouldn’t need to trick you into coming to one of their “meetings”. Just don’t drink or eat anything they offer you.

  13. K2 said,

    Snowmobile snow job? Now we’re on the right track. (No charge, AO. And yes, I stopped using the damn periods in A.O. Please?)

  14. Richie said,

    I’m not going to dump on Amway. Years ago, when I was in the service stationed up in northern Maine, I got involved with Amway. It cost, like, 12$ (or maybe 25$; I can’t exactly remembr) to join. I got a bunch of products & literature & stuff; and I worked at it right hard. Made a couple hundred bucks out of it that year, and I also learned that direct sales was NOT going to be my path to fame and fortune.

    People decry the cult-like aspects of Amway; but considering how repulsed most people are by any form of direct marketing, it becomes understandable why they do what they do. There are worse things out there for people to be involved in, and ANYTHING done to excess can be destructive; but stop and think, would you rather have a friend be involved in something like Amway; or, be a Jehovah Witness or some toher truly manipulative cult group ? Thought so. At least Amway stuff is as marketed.

    God in heaven I absolutely hate telemarketers and their evil spawn, time-share sales people. Anyone selling something where they have to call YOU, rather than you calling them, should be sent to Dante’s seventh circle. Don’t bother wasting your time going to any of their presentations. They don’t stay in business by giving away $300 – $400 iPod’s, or anything else of value either. These people have a plan, and their plan is to separate you from your money. Period. They will say or do anything to achieve this mission; even if they have to reprogram your brain using the Vulcan Mind-Meld to do it.

    Years ago, when I was young and ambitious and thought that hard work could achieve anything, I went to a talk put on by something called “United SHoppers Association”. Catchy acronym there, “U S A”, wow ! Who could be against that !?
    Well, fortunately I still had a few brain cells that hadn’t been destroyed by drugs, beer or agent orange, and I realised two things:
    (1.) If it sounds too good to be true, it probably IS.
    (2). TANSTAAFL (hat tip to Rob’t Heinlein) – There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch

    For a mere 2.500$ (1972 dollars ind you) I could get in on the ground floor of a burgeoning new way ! Thank God in heaven I was able to get a grip. My (former) friend who’d dragged me to this was mightily put out that I didn’t fork over my savings since he’d have made a big commission if I had. A few years later, “U S A” disappeared; as would have my money had I been so foolish to “invest”.

    Soooo, if you can afford to tie up a ton of money in time shares, why, feel free; go ahead. They are NOT investments, you WON’T make a profit on them, there is NOT a market out there hungering to buy these things, and you WON’T get rid of it easily once you have it. Instead, you could give the money to me !! I’m organising an expedition to look for the Holy Grail. See, I have this map . . .

  15. Bobbie said,

    We should get together, Richie, because I have the key code to the map that you have! LOL

  16. Richie said,

    Excellent !! The plan is coming together !!! Mwaaahahahahaha !!

  17. LaFlamme said,

    As much as I like the idea of showing up shitfaced on Allen’s, I think I’ll steer clear of these people. If it could be arranged, I’d have all the bloggers come with me in one, loud throng. When asked why so many people have come along, I’d say: “To help me carry the snowmobile. Now fork it over.”

  18. Robert said,

    Mark,

    I say go! Here’s what you do….

    Bring Mainetarr as your “spouse” for the evening. Yes they may check licenses and addresses but just wink and tell em you’re marrying as soon as your 3rd divorce goes through…Then spend the next 90 minutes in complete excitement and attention to their sales pitch, let them truly think they have a sucker on the couch…Get excited, talk about all the fun things to do wherever the condo is (act like its the only place in the world Mainetarr ever wanted to go)…

    Play it up big, waste their time, ask for coffee and food, milk it big time….then let them down slowly by offering to sell them something absolutely worthless and hold them for another 90 minutes by not stoppping talk about your special item.

    Oh, almost forgot, make sure you collect your prize “upfront”…make it clear you want to see and hold your prize before the presentation and then act like no matter how cheesy or cheap it is, its the greatest gift you’ve ever gotten.

    If you get 3 or 4 couples in on this it works even better, all of you taking up their time and having a great social event, each couple bickering over which week is best for the entire group, each of them deciding what floor you’ll all want….picture the samesman’s dilemma, you can all play parts, like the husband who likes to grabs women other than his wife, the drunken wife or husband, the couple who can;t put their cell phones away, the ones who rave about all the expensive things they do…takes some planning to pull it off, but beleive me, its the most fun you can have as a group…

    In fact this could be a great blog party….geez I hope I don;t get hit up in Nags Head next week come to think of it…I fell for it once in Honolulu, and walked back to the hotel with 20 pounds of chocolate covered macadamia nuts to prove it….my wife has still not forgiven me!

  19. A.O. said,

    Wow, Robert, This does sound like a great idea for a blog party. I take it you’ve done this before. Ha. Funny.

  20. LaFlamme said,

    Ha! Man, I wish I could pull something like this off. I could spend that final 90 minutes relentlessly plugging my book, for instance. Christ, that’d be fun.

  21. A.O. said,

    I say we do it. Who else is in?

  22. Robert said,

    I’m in and can bring the real wife….course she doesn’t quite get blogging….

  23. Robert said,

    Now where do we find a condo sales rep stupid enough to suck in on this little plot…where’s Dan when you need him….

  24. A.O. said,

    Okay. That makes three of us. When is this “event” anyway?

  25. LaFlamme said,

    Hey, maybe they’ll give us all snowmobiles just to make us go away.

  26. A.O. said,

    If they give me one, I’ll sell it to you at cost.

  27. K2 said,

    I hear Mark’s into four-strokes, but in reality he only needs two.

  28. Mainetarr said,

    We’d get a whole lot more use out of a 4 wheeler than a snowmobile. Take the cash and the ipod Mark. You can buy a lot of Allen’s with $100 bucks. LOL

  29. Linda said,

    Maybe they’d give you a hot tub and a wine tap, hmmm? Anybody would …

  30. brenda said,

    I like Robert’s idea, to take a group & paly it. You would have to be sure that none of you will fall for the pitch, though.

    My experience was, we went to one seminar for vacation sharing, & didn’t get the prize unless we signed up for SOMETHING – they kept lowering the offer, and they went as low as $50 / month commitment, but I refused to agree to give them any money at all so we left with a worthless peice of paper saying we could go somewhere within a year, but it wouldn’t be free….

  31. Linda said,

    I went through that once with a vacuum cleaner salesman. Lower and lower. Thought he was going to pay us to take it, but in the end he gave up on us.

  32. A.O. said,

    Eh, I say we go for it. Bloggers road trip. I mean, how much more fun could you ask for?

  33. Bulldog said,

    I’d say that you guys are always looking for an excuse for a party. You bunch of drunks

  34. LaFlamme said,

    Bulldog is right. You people don’t drink responsibly. You should be more self aware and cautious, like Bulldog and I.

  35. Mainetarr said,

    The Queen Beeotch is shitting on her people and calling them drunks. What the hell kind of a queen are you? LOL Bad enough you made us all kiss your tiara and your ring, but to call us a bunch of drunks now? Hmmmph. I am very offensive, um, I mean, hic, offender, hic, er offended. Hey Calvin, pass the Allens………

  36. Bobbie said,

    So, how much was the Sun Urinal paid to allow their newspaper in the mini-series Kingdom Hospital? My son thought I was crazy when I saw the paper and said, “The Sun Urinal!” He just looked at me funny and then went back to his room.

  37. Gil said,

    So are you going Mark? I like Robert’s plan. Nothing would be funnier than trapping a salesman into listening to your pitch for 90 minutes. Pitch it as a deal that you will go with their time share if they purchase one of your books for each room in all their condo properties.
    By the way, Thanks for the input on my blog, I just updated it.

  38. LaFlamme said,

    Cool. I’ll add a link to your site so it’s easy to get back and forth. I meant to do that last night. Then I got to drinkin.

  39. Linda said,

    Mark, the tribe has spoken. You’ll have to do the time share thing and tell us all about it. Just be sure that if you buy a condo, it has a HOT TUB AND WINE TAP. We can’t live on Allen’s forever.

  40. "The Weasel" said,

    Drywallllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    You fuckers>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

  41. Linda said,

    Weasel, I’m finding that post totally inscrutable. I don’t recall ever having that depth of feeling about drywall. Maybe by morning all will be revealed …??

  42. LaFlamme said,

    Yep. The final screech of Weasel’s sanity slipping away. I mean, didn’t we all know this was going to happen sooner than later? Of course, we did. We just never knew in what form it would come.
    Personally, I always thought it would be the Sun Journal that finally nudged the big man over the edge of reason. That it happens to be drywall is merely incidental. We can only speculate on what type of plastering occurence proved the final nail in the coffin of Weasel’s lucidity.
    A drink! To what was once a sane and hearty blogger! To drywall and drywall screws!

  43. Mainetarr said,

    Hey Weasel, take it from someone who spent all of last summer ripping horsehair and plaster out of her house, drywall is a blessing. It’s the dust that sucks…

  44. K2 said,

    Well, you gypsum you lose some.

  45. Robert said,

    Wow people start drinking and before you know it they are plastered….yeah I know, but I could not resist….

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