Tuesday, 28 August 2007


So i got waylaid by one of those Amway fuckers. I'm usually very wary of such traps, having seen a lot of not-so-bright cousins fall in the trap and end up losing money. I'm usually on guard against these types, but this particular guy slipped through the net, so to speak. He said he wanted me help with some business idea of his, told me that he's an entrepreneur starting out etc etc. He was apparently a friend of one of my acquaintances, and cited his reference. And I was given to believe that he required my services as a designer. Now most freelancers and aspiring freelancers know what its like to have work come to you. You have a better bargaining position since you were approached by them. Not to mention the huge ego boost that someone, especially a start up with a lot to lose, has placed his trust in you to get the job done good. I agreed to listen to this chap. A little extra money on the side never hurt anybody right?
Which is what he must have been thinking when he got into this business of conning people as well. I should have guessed it was one of these chain marketing fuckers from the eagerness he displayed to meet me. I put that down as the enthusiasm of a start up following his dream. I did figure it before it boiled down to him telling me he was from Amway, but i had already met him by then and not being in a mood to be impolite to random strangers, i decided to hear him out. Also because the meeting was at my place, and if anyone had to do any running away it would have had to be him.
I dunno if he was trained to do it, but he was trying very hard to make me identify with him. To sort of strike a common ground. He started off commenting on my Jim Morrison t-shirt. He asked me if i was a fan of The Doors. I said i was a big time fan of theirs. He said he liked them too, though somehow he didnt look like he did. There are subtle signs people give out about their intentions, and you can use these to read right through them if only you can spot them in time. For instance, the t-shirt I was wearing had the famous lizard king portrait of morrison up front while on the back it said "I'm the lizard king, I can do anything - The Doors". The front is definitely more striking than the back, and i dont ever remember the back of the t-shirt having attracted comment. But he asked me about my music only after i turned around the first time, thus revealing the name of the band - not morrison, mind - to him. Observant chap, yes, but then he said that he liked their music as well. I was half inclined to put him a favourite song / lyrics question which usually weeds out the fakers from the believers, but decided to let him be. After all at that point he was still a potential client to me.
He comes into my mess of a room, and even though i can sense the unease on his face, he proceeds to make himself comfortably seated on the mattress on the floor given that i own no chairs. The room is trademark dirty, and he pretends its the same sort of room as he had in college. His creaseless clothes even at the end of the day tells me his room and mine are poles apart. You could tell the state of my room by looking at me even on days i wear neatly pressed shirts to office; where you live and what sort of person you are is something that you cant erase off you.
Then he launched himself into an explanation on the franchising business with McDonalds as the example. Most of the times when i set an alarm for a certain time in the morning, i wake up one or two minutes before it on my own, and then lie in wait for the alarm. I had the same sort experience here. Just before he took out his pad of paper and his cheap plastic pen to explain the franchising concept to me, i figured this was heading towards Amway. I just sat back and waited for the alarm. Which came when he started explaining McDonalds. 'Cos thats the bloody same example all my cousins used when they started explaining too. And that was even before any of us had ever been to a McD's. These guys must have some sort of organised propaganda machine working for them, i guess. Thank god they're selling only carwash, mouthwash and hogwash, and not the thousand year reich which by the way was probably hogwash too.
I was really depressed by the way he made little drawings and wrote down memorized figures to explain all the bullshit he'd been taught. People are almost willingly manipulated, it seemed to me. I didn't betray my thoughts on my face, I let him continue instead. The figures never seemed to end, he even knew how much his mentors were making per month. A little into his lecture he probably figured that while i was patient with him, i wasn't at all buying into what he was trying to sell me. So he began renewed efforts in tyring to find common ground, and asked me about the last movie I had seen. Wrong question, since I'm a serious cinema buff almost to the point of being a snob, so i told him that the last film i saw was hable con ella by almodovar, instead of the Chak De India he was probably expecting. He made a half ditch attempt to still find that elusive bond, and told me its a beautiful movie. The way he told me told me the truth, and the expression on my face told him he should probably shut up, which he promptly did. Anyways, things went downhill for him from there. I was waiting for him to mention Amway to tell him in the politest possible manner to fuck off and dont bother me again, and he was doing his darnedest best to avoid mentioning them. Finally after about twenty minutes into the conversation, he mentioned them, I told him what i thought about them and the aforementioned fuck-off, and it was all over. Or so i thought. Tenacity is a quality i would credit him with. Now that he had failed to recruit me into his evil cult, he started trying to peddle me samples of their evil stuff and wanted me to inflict the same torture as i just underwent on my friends by giving him their numbers.
I had wondered how these people maintain a social life. I mean, your primary customers were your friends who were expected to recruit other friends and so on. Assuming half your friends are jackasses who would be easily conned into something like this and the other half aren't, you stand to reduce your social circle by half by doing something like this cos the intelligent ones amongst your friends would figure by this point that you are an idiot not worth counting for a friend. I wouldn't want to be friends with anyone using their spare time to peddle me car polish when i don't even own a car. Come to think of it, i cant imagine any of my friends wanting me telling them what toothpaste to use either. And since my circle of close friends was pretty much closed, something like Amway would mean all of us ending up not talking to each other. Amway might have imagined it different, but this is how it works for me. Yet there they are, a 6.4 billion dollar company, Infosys Wipro and TCS rolled into one according to the idiot i talked to. There must be too many lonely people in the world, methinks. An interesting spin off business from Amway could then be the social networking business. All those lonely people probably need dates.
Anyways, i managed not to lose my temper with him, for such interesting thoughts were going on in my mind. I did tell him however that i will not consider sacrificing my social circle for his advancement in the Amway chain. He begged me to reconsider and said he'd get back in touch in a month. I told him not to bother, but I have a feeling he probably will.
i realized later that i had nothing against the guy. my prejudice against his cause was the reason behind my hostility. Maybe he had financial problems severe enough to warrant getting into something like this as there werent too many other lucrative things he could do without leaving his job. But what i did hate about him was his inability to separate himself from the bullshit he was selling. One look at him when he was explaining his figures was all it took for me to figure that he actually believed in those numbers and doodles he was making for all those people he met. I hated that. Its when i see that people can believe any bull they're told that i remember that the nazi ideology was so easy to sell, and that people are selling similar stuff today and other people are buying. I hate that as well. Period.

end note : after i wrote this i kinda thought that equating them with nazi propaganda machines was a bit bit far-fetched, but when i read more about these guys i think i wasn't that far off the mark. they have faced multiple lawsuits in various countries for cult-like behaviour, apparently. read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amway for more on this.

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