We were like innocent lambs being lead to slaughter — except we have to take full responsibility for being slaughtered, since the man with the ax said, “Would you like to be slaughtered? I’ll give you a cookie!” and we said, “A cookie? Why, yes! Sharpen the ax!”
What did we know? All were heard was “cookie.”
Two weeks ago, while checking into my in-love’s (code word for in-laws, in our family) condo in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, the nice lady at the front desk tells us she would be happy to invite us to a free private breakfast on Monday that would only last 75 minutes and include 60% off all of our activities for the week. She said it like that, in a run-on sentence.
I turned to Mike and our guests, the fabulous Casey and Sarah Bueller (you may remember Sarah from her guest post) and said, “I know it’s a timeshare presentation, but all I heard was free breakfast and 60% off. What did you hear?”
“Same,” they all replied, eager to rip these foolish salesmen off. If they want to buy us breakfast and activities, they’re the suckers, after all.
“Besides,” I said. “It’s only 75 minutes. Just over an hour of semi-torture, but then we have major discounts.”
Oh how I want to go back in time and poison myself so I could never have uttered those words.
Monday Morning: Free Breakfast
“Please fill out these brief forms and then you can head inside for breakfast,” the lady announces to us. We dutifully began filling out our forms, until we reached a very personal question: What is your annual income?
Sarah and I look at each other, indignant, and refuse to answer the question. We turn our forms in and not 10 seconds later the woman turns to us.
“You didn’t fill in your income,” she says tartly.
“That’s right,” I reply. “It’s none of your business.”
“It is if you want to attend this presentation,” she says. “Why would we allow people with low incomes to get the incentives if we know they can’t afford the items for sale?”
We look at her with disdain. I consider walking out. But then my stomach growls. I fill in the form, though purposely check the box two levels beneath our actual income, just to irritate her.
We sit down at the breakfast table and look around the dining room.
No. No, they didn’t. In the corner, tucked away, was a breakfast buffet.
“They don’t even serve us!?” I whisper to Siri, who is already irritated.
We fill our plates and then get a table…and the salesperson sits down at the fifth chair. Let me give you an image of this individual. She is wearing basic black and tan business casual slacks and a top, but has the makeup, cleavage and spike heels of a hooker on her first day.
After our breakfast, as we rise from the table, she rebukes us, “Please, leave a tip. For the waiters!” We all freeze in place as it occurs to us that not only were we her supposed guests, but we served ourselves at the buffet. You have to be kidding me.
I drop five dollars on the table.
She leads us outside to a veranda and proceeds to pepper us with questions about our lifestyle and vacationing preferences. We answer her canned questions until she lays it on the table: are you interested in purchasing a timeshare at this resort?
I see no need to make nice. This was already miserable and it would be better to save us both the time.
“No, we’re not,” I tell her. She stares at me, trying to remain calm.
“Then why are you here for this presentation?” she asks.
“For the incentives,” I reply, looking her in the eye.
“Well,” she said, after a moment, “that’s honest. I can appreciate that.”
I’m glad one of us can.
Monday Morning: Post-Grounds Tour, Final Stage of Sales Presentation — 2 Hours In
Enter Mel, the salesman.
“Howdy folks, how ya doin’ this mornin’?” Mel greets us. We stare in wonder at the figure before us. He’s 65, portly, wearing a Tommy Bahamas knockoff shirt and more gold chains and rings than anyone outside of the Mob has any business wearing.
We gather at a table overlooking the ocean, and Mel calls for mimosas. As the waiter pops the champagne bottle, everyone in the restaurant cheers. It takes all of my strength not to stand up and yell, “Don’t applaud this! Save us! Rescue us from this torture!”
Mel proceeds to pull out a yellow legal pad of paper. He begins explaining the premise of a timeshare, and uses the most unbelievable condensation any of us has ever experienced.
“When you buy a vacation space instead of renting one, you build something we call ‘equity,'” he explains. Mike glances at Casey with a look that says, “Is this a joke? I filled out on the form that I’m a BANKER.”
“You ever been deep-sea fishing, Siri?” Mel says, but he looks directly at Casey. Oh my word, he thinks Casey is Sarah.
“No,” Casey replied.
“Why not? You scared?” asks Mel.
I finally lose it and burst out laughing. Yes! He’s just insulted his potential clients! It can’t get worse!
“And uh, you, Casey,” he says, looking at Sarah. “You’re a lawyer, right? Are you still articling?”
“I’m sorry, ” Sarah replies. “Am I still what?”
“Articling. You know, where you write articles for the first two years after you pass the bar,” he explains. “I’m from Canada and that’s what we do. It’s called paying your dues.”
Sarah stares at him. No words come.
Mel goes back to his legal pad. He tells us that Cabo is the most desired vacation destination in the world, nothing is better — it’s a fact. I immediately think of three greater vacation destinations that I’ve been to, but say nothing.
We soon realize that Mel’s main thrill in life is to write down the nouns of every sentence he says, and then circle or underline them once or twice to really drive the point home. For instance, as he says, “You want to be an owner so you can build equity, and create memories with your families for a lifetime,” it ends up looking like:
owner equity memories families lifetime
I stare at the ocean trying to block out the insanity before me, and sip my mimosa. I think of puppies and balloons and ice cream cones…anything but Mel’s legal pad.
I think of lying on a beach somewhere, warm and tropical. That’s when it hits me that I am on a beach somewhere warm and tropical, but I am definitely not lying on it. I am wasting precious hours of a week in Mexico with Mel, his legal pad, and his poor people skills.
“So,” he concluded. “What do you think? Are you interested?”
We didn’t hesitate, but we weren’t rude either. “I don’t think so,” we each replied. “But thank you so much for your time.”
“That’s OK,” he said. “I didn’t think you could afford it anyway.”
That’s when I spotted a nearby bird and whistled it over in the hope that it would peck my eyes out.
The four of us sailed high above the water in a 60% off parasail ride, gleefully shouting, “Thanks, Mel!” into the warm ocean air.