By Andrew Worssam
"To discuss a business proposition", he answered. That sounded interesting. We were both trying to forge a career in the same field and worked together occasionally — not always harmoniously, it might be added. But I felt willing to bury the hatchet. Together we might be able to form a strong team.
I also knew him to be a devotee of Baigan Hari Matar Charchari Yoga: lots of time spent sitting cross-legged, saying the same thing over and over again beneath photos of an ever beneficent mentor, nice smelling incense, that kind of thing. So it had to be on the level I figured; worship your inner guru and all that. He obviously respected my abilities and wanted to combine forces. An appointment was duly made.
Within minutes my hopes were duly dashed. After the small talk was over, he started talking money. And never stopped. How he wanted these cars, that house, this sort of furniture, that standard of living. "And what about you then? What do you want out of life?" Me, I was just wondering which particular get-rich-quick scam this was and wishing I hadn't returned his call.
"Do you see that car over there?", he offered, gesturing towards a Porsche conveniently parked nearby. "Grrreeat car. Hey! I went down to Expensive Cars today, sat in a few ... Lamborghini ... redundant technology ... still a great car though."
He paused to let me take all this in. "Only this high", he indicated, smiled and shook his head in amazement. Obviously he'd be in the market for such a vehicle soon. His "business" was that lucrative.
Next we got onto the "have I got a deal for you!" phase. Very little was revealed about how or what. He didn't tell me it was actually a subsidiary
of Sellwell, which would have aroused my suspicions straightaway. It was called ProActive Marketing (thereafter referred to simply as PAM). He would help me as in turn fabulously rich friends of his had helped him.
I was fed up by now, I just kept nodding and ah-hahing out of politeness or because of some self-abusive tendencies I really need to work on, I couldn't work out which. I was desperate for him to get to the point; I was nearing my limits. I had begun to feel insulted that I had been even considered for such a presentation and I was getting irritated by his, I'm so self-satisfied you couldn't take the smile off my face with an angle grinder attitude.
I ventured, "Look, I'll stop you there mate. I'm just not interested." Next he went onto a different tack (I'm too polite, just too polite) and presented me with a few things he just happened to have brought with him. I apparently needed time to think about it (how considerate).
He handed me a brochure entitled ProActive Marketing's Conspicuously Wealthy, Their Huge Houses and Their Large Collections of Automobiles, a selection of nouveau riche "made-its" who make homegroan No Regrets Noeline and husband Laurie look like veritable ambassadors of all things tasteful.
Once I had had time to take in just what PAM could do for me and envision myself downing a tinny on the verandah of my 10,000 sq ft ranch house atop Uluru, I was offered a tape entitled "How You Too Can Make Obscene Amounts of Money" — more of what I'd just heard, only with an irritating American accent. "Something to take away and think about."
It's Monday today and he's coming over to pick up his tape (he wouldn't let me just send it to him in the mall, funnily enough). I am bracing myself for the inevitable all-knowing smile and the "you're making a big mistake" stuff.
It's like knowing in advance that the Mormons are going to pay a visit; you've got their bible, they're going to want it back and they're going to want to
have a chat about it.
In fact the religious metaphor is quite apt. Eternal happiness via material success. Worship the cult of Sellwell products and you will get your just rewards in consumer heaven. Redemption is for those who work for it, now available in over 50 countries.
This subsidiary of Global Greed Inc is subtle and underhand, buying into the ever fading capitalist dreams, tapping people's very real fears of being jobless and destitute. Their system is merely an obvious variation on the chain letter scam.
Hands up anyone who has made any money from chain letters ... Very few end up on the top of the pyramid. There just isn't room, but that is the lie they are selling you. To make any money you in turn need many new recruits. Start going through the address book: friends, relatives, people you meet on the train, people sitting by themselves in the park.
A little asking around revealed that many of my friends had been similarly propositioned. Forewarned is forearmed, so, of you're suspicious, just ask straight off, "Does this have anything to do with Sellwell Household Cleaning Products Pty Ltd? If not, with whom? Did PAM send you? Get to the point!" Utilise the words of Nancy Reagan and "Just say no!". Please, go away ... Rover, sic 'em!
[It is not the intention of the author to malign any particular individual or company. Any similarity to persons (named PAM or otherwise), places of worship, organisations, brochures, audio tapes, automobile dealerships or companies past, present or future is purely coincidental.]