Monday, August 15, 2005

The Amway Brigade

I got my millionth letter from Poetry.Com today in response to one measly poem I had posted there a few months back. A few weeks after posting the poem I got this mail from them, informing me that it has been selected as a semi-finalist in their monthly poetry contest and stands to win a 1000 USD!!! I was of course beside myself with joy. Fast on its heels came another mail requesting permission to publish my brilliant poem, which of course I readily gave with a few hundred kilos of blessings and thank-yous as well. Now my joy would have filled up the Atlantic Ocean! But there was a small hitch here… they wanted me to pay them 50 bucks to own one of these books with my priceless poem in it. Here my legendary miserliness saved the day. ‘Hmmm…’, said I… “I thought you made money if somebody published something your wrote… here not only am I not making a single paisa but also I will need to pay a whole lot to just buy one of these books, fishy… very fishy!”. Well… another mail… and this time raving about a soon to be held poetry convention where my work has been chosen to be presented before many poet laureates. Alongwith another figure… this time some 200 bucks!! Now I was beginning to smell the whole fish market in this story. It wouldn’t have taken Her Majesty’s 007 to solve this puzzle… they really didn’t give a damn about how good/bad my poem was. Poof… that was me deflating back to normal size. Someone then told me that she had posted ‘Mary had a little lamb’ and got the same gushing response to it. Oh well… and since then have received dozens of mails from the website regarding the convention including as many enticing details as possible. Oh… and the most hilarious of all being the instruction to bring an extra suitcase along to carry the heavy silver trophy/platter I will be awarded at the convention. Today I guess, those dolts finally gave up on me biting the bait and paying up to make it to their precious convention but then you got to give it to them… they are inspiringly, scarily persistent… as a final effort they have written that since regrettably I can’t make it to the convention, I can still pay to have my poem presented and also to have my gifts shipped to me. Ha dude… you are barking up the wrong tree this time!!

(Looking smug and one-up here, since I am usually one of those that buy something from those sad looking salespersons coz I am too nice to turn them away). Ah a scary thought… what if this website had someone to do personal sales… something akin to Amway. And while we are at it… Amway salespeople are like ‘Gabbar Singh’. If you are familiar with Hindi movies, specifically Sholay, there is this famous scene where Gabbar boasts of his notoriety by telling his fellow dacoits, how in faraway villages mothers scare their kids by telling them… ‘Go to sleep child, else Gabbar will come and get you’. If I am behaving badly and you want me to sober up, all you have to do is threaten me…’ Behave yourself Anu, else an Amway salesperson will come get you’.

Most people I know have a dozens of Amway horror stories to tell and it is indeed sad, because most of these people have been relentlessly hunted and pursued by friends, colleagues, relatives and neighbours...until they have been cornered, nailed and converted over. I have personally seen friends turn into social pariahs in their pursuit to make that extra buck. The last time I was baited was in my last place of work. I was new to the place and eager to make friends... a colleague walked upto me, introduced himself and indulged in some small talk. He told me how his wife likes to meet new people and how I seemed so much her type and how we would hit it off so well. He asked me for my contact number, I gave him my phone number and promptly forgot about it. But that evening, while I was still at work, his wife called me up, and asked me if I were busy. "Well, hmmm, I am but if it is something urgent and won't take up too much time we can talk now', I said, puzzled and taken aback. Vrooom..... blah-blah-yak-yak... off she started on how she has this wonderful business proposition for me and how I would make millions. I had no idea what had just hit me. "Well I am new to Singapore and still settling in here... Can we talk some time later when I have found my feet in this place". "Oh", she says (in the tone of one who has just been tossed into a bucket of cold water but is still hopeful), "When can we talk then, shall I call you up tomorrow?”. "No, I meant a few months... maybe I could call you up in around 2-3 months". Before you could say Robinson Crusoe, this lady had hung up, but not before she had dealt her parting shot... "Please don't mention this discussion to my husband when he is in the office, he doesn't like to talk business in office." 'Neither do I lady'... but I was left saying this to myself. She had meanwhile hung up. Now fast forward to 2 months later, Sunday morning and I am still sleeping the sleep of the dead... A phone rings. I curse and pick it up. Who do you think could have called... yep!! That unputdownable lady from Amway. (Do they ever give up!!?) But by this time, I had developed a weapon to counter their thick skull and skin... 'Nope I AM NOT INTERESTED' said I... firmly and angrily. That was the end of that. (hopefully)

Anna of Sepia Mutiny has recently posted her experiences with the (in)famous Amway sales force under the title The only time I'm not "from India" . "What about you? Have you enjoyed the fervent courtship of an Amway-ite?", she asks. Read the whole post... it comes replete with some more brilliant ways to shake off the Amway salesperson.