Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Donkey Dust or Cold Cream

Last fall, while I was traveling for work, I had a most unpleasant experience one evening. I noticed men every where, the "unsavory" type. Given, I was not staying in an "unsavory" establishment or in an "unsavory" part of town, I was a little concerned. When I returned to my hotel after dinner, the atmosphere was no better.

After seeing the lobby teaming with slimy "used car sales men types" (no offense to those few reputable ones left in the industry), as soon as I could, I made my way back to seek refuge in the  concierge lounge. I asked the attendant if there was a convention in town. 

He lit up. "Oh yeah, the __ group is here." (I honestly did not catch their name.) "They meet here every September. And it is the same every year. They descend by the thousands. This is their big meeting. The restaurants run out of beer and every year some of them will try to argue over room rates. But we survive and they will be gone by Sunday, no later than Monday." "What type of business is that?" "A telephone pyramid scheme." "You're kidding." "Nope. I've already had three of them try to sell me their deal tonight."

When I got on the elevator to return to my room, this nice gentleman looked at me and timidly asked, "Are you with that group?" "No sir, I'm not." "Thank goodness. I had to listen to two sales pitches between the lobby and the elevator." "They say they will be gone by Sunday." "I honestly don't know if I'll live to see it."

When the elevator door opened a guest got on (obviously one of them). He immediately turned to the older gentleman and asked, "Sir, I bet you pay a lot for your phone service?" "No, sir I don't." "Oh, everyone does. I can offer you a quality service for much less and an opportunity to earn money. Who is your service provider?" "I don't have a phone service." "No phone service? Oh, I can offer a deal on cellular service also."  "Son, I'm Amish."  

With that the elevator door opened and the salesman got off. I turned to the gentleman, "Well played." "Any port in a storm. It was either that or staying in my room for the next three days. Now if I can get the valet to bring my buggy around."

In the wee hours of the morning when you could still hear the sounds of the snake oil salesmen celebrating whatever they celebrate in the streets far below, I was wide awake.  Flipping through channels on the television I passed on infomercials for the "Dicomatic" and its like, quickly bored of the documentary of the paving of the track at the Daytona Motor Speedway, (I'm sure its available on a limited collector's DVD set if I wanted it any way), clicked pass the Discovery Channel's program on the history of the Fire Arm (a Modern Marvel), and came to stop on the biography of Mary Kay Rogers.

It was going to be a long night - of pink Cadillacs and diamond bumble bees. Never knowing anything about her, with the exception of the cotton candy colored cars she gave away to her make-up queens, I had a lot to learn. First, they really were queens. They got tiaras and sashes before earning the keys to the car. It was a regular beauty pageant at the annual gala. How many cases of cold cream and eye liner did it take to earn a fur coat? How many boxes of powder and jars of miracle cream did it take to be able to drive off that stage in a pink Coupe Deville? 

These ladies were entranced by their leader. But what amazed me was that she gave them a product to sell, not a scheme. When a Mary Kay "Consultant" sells you something, you walk away with a tangible item in your hand that you can use. And, you do not have to convince five other friends (or strangers) to jump on the band wagon with you in order for you to make any money. From day one, you can make as much money as products you can sell. And, you only pay Mary Kay for what you sell.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not joining up with Mary Kay and filling my back seat with cold cream. But juxtaposed to those ying yangs I saw last night who were selling donkey dust, and most likely found every decent person in their lives running for cover if they got within a block of them, I'll take the cold cream, save my soul, and shoot for the pink Cadillac any day.

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