I towed my unwilling feet away from the bar and towards the eerily, tenantless business complex. The reasons I agreed to squander the next one hundred and twenty minutes of my life evaporated along with my buzz. It wouldn’t be that bad. My husband smiled in his handsome, reassuring way.
I took my seat in the small, crowded, conference room. It smelled like bleach. I pictured an older man cleaning up evidence from a recent and horrifying criminal act. The stain on the floor supported my theory. A woman stood in front of the room, smiling disingenuously as the red light from the projector shone across her pruned face. Devil. It wasn’t her fault, I was grumpy.
She enunciated each word so excruciatingly slow, that I wondered if she had been a kindergarten teacher. Her overly pink lipstick and deliberate blinking, castrated my patience. I looked at my rose gold watch and sighed. It had only been ten minutes. My husband rolled his eyes at my inability to sit quietly. Why don’t they serve wine at these events?
The screen behind the Deliberate Blinker, boasted beautiful beaches and palatial hotel rooms. The ability to travel “anywhere” and pay “minimal” fees remained the theme of her speech. I focused on our next vacation, Cabo San Lucas. It was an unusual marketing strategy: I waste your time and you award me with a five day trip to Mexico. In my defense, the person that pitched this to us over the phone explained it this way.
My parents have owned a time share in Winter Park, Colorado, since 1979. I love it. It has been just about the only constant in my life. Now that I have hijacked the timeshare, I recall childhood memories once a year and share them with my lovely step-daughters.
I relive the constant smell of chlorine. The game room sits nearly barren, with the same Pac Man, air hockey and pool table from when I was a kid. The same paintings garnish the walls. My favorite image is a horde of creepy black birds caught in a bleak windstorm. I have no idea who originally designed this space, but I assume they love Alfred Hitchcock as much as I do.
Maybe timeshares aren’t so bad. I positioned myself a little straighter in the uncomfortable chair. Struggling to mirror the enthusiasm of the wild-haired, woman next to me. I’m certain I failed.
The lights brightened and we were excused to join a staff member in a new room. We took our seat at a desk and awaited our new sales demon. She asked us questions about our lifestyle, income and travel ideals. I sat mostly quiet and let my husband do the talking. He had assured me that I would want to buy and he knew how to politely decline. I felt a bit guilty squandering away this woman’s time, it could not be an easy job. She assured me that 52% of people actually do buy in. We were not a portion of that statistic.
My guilt heightened as I realized she was stuck with us, unwilling buyers. I tried to make up for my uselessness with a friendly smile, hoping to assure her that she was doing a great job. The time came when she realized we weren’t going to bite. She explained we could pay extra to upgrade our free package to Cabo. We declined. I wanted to leave. We had been there well past the promised one hundred and twenty minutes and I was uncomfortable. Frustration obvious on her now unfriendly face, Sales Demon explained the terms of our reward.
The rules stated that you had to list three different dates that might work with your schedule. I was leery at this point. No one told me about these stipulations before we signed up. Another red flag- if the dates chosen were over a specified (very low) dollar amount then we would have to pay the extra. The last requirement, it would take at least six months for you to obtain.
Well, what did I expect? The guarantee of a complimentary trip, in hand, in trade for a couple hours of my time sounded too good to be true. It was.
In turn, our presence at this presentation misled that we may be interested. It all came full circle, none of us were entirely honest and none of us were entirely surprised by the outcome.
We never used the voucher.
Have you ever traded your time for a freebie? Misused your time and someone else’s? Been to a high pressure sales pitch? Or am I the only terrible person?