There I was, ambling rather unsteadily down one infamously known boulevard of dreams, broken or otherwise, Sukhumvit, one fine day. The aim being a small shopping excursion to that Pantheon of conspicuous consumerism in Bangkok, Terminal 21. Did we in the west introduce this disease here? Or would it inevitably sprout, due to human nature regarding disposable income the world over?
The unsteady gate was due to the recent 32 hour travel extravaganza from the western shores of continent America. Mind you, that was wake up to laying down a gibbering drooling mess, down, on a Bangkok mattress. A questionable beginning starting with this old man, having a 'warp core breach', during an early morning checkin fiasco, with automated check in machines.
At one point the machine stated in written form, rather emphatically, that there was no record of my existence on this planet, much less a reservation for a ride to BKK.
My Dylithium crystals heated to critical mass. I became that guy. Psycho senior, casting verbal aspersions and character judgments at an inanimate machine.
A noticeably standoffish airline person came and led me through their supposedly convenient crap software like I was an imbecilic child. This has the aforementioned crystals in white hot condition.
Thankfully another counter person who was a dark-skinned beauty witnessed this psychotic break, took pity, and offered soothing words and apologies to this wounded and infuriated old fart. Her kindness had potent effect. Next stop: TSA anal probe, security check. Woohoo! Who needs a lady boy when TSA is only so happy to oblige!
Back on Sukhumvit amongst the hordes, a female voice calls out. A young lass and her accomplice, ostensibly uni girls from one of the local colleges.
There have been a few past submissions extolling the virtues of these females. Now quite understandable.
Dressed geakishly and full of fresh faced enthusiasm, they were taking tourist surveys with the aim of finding willing idiots to go and listen to some timeshare spiel. This in order that they my might receive a token payment, helping them to supplement their meager student budgets. The big talker, a skinny, slight but energetic Thai, irrepressibly flirty, trying her utmost to handle any crap a Farang might say. At one point I could see that one flirty remark I threw at her was a bit much by her twisted up facial expression, but damn if she didn't fight that furious Thai heart for control and came back at me with goodness and light and a bright smile. Full credit to her, boy that fire is right there sometimes! Her companion, a very dark youngster with a primitive sultriness to match, yet a conservative middle class good girl, simple normal person demeanor.
A pleasure to converse with these girls with impressive English verbal skills, I took the bait and was scheduled to listen to the spiel the next day at a hotel nearby. Met by the girls at the appointed place to get some last minute guidelines about what not to say, we were on the same team theoretically, conspirators. Conspiratorial escapades with flirty, young, smart, exotic, Asian girls. Must have had a bullseye painted on my forehead! 555
Arrived at the hotel, a typical modern-ish yet well worn type of which we encounter so many of here. Sparkling when new but never updated, relying on its original appeal to maintain its star rating. Does Thailand do upkeep on anything? Introduced to Boner, a long time BKK bar hand.
Typical back and forth getting to know you type talk and sermon about the virtues of their program. Catering his verbiage to my profile, old white monger with carefully crafted patronage and plausible personal background filler. Not a pro mind you, light shining through cracks in the veneer. Friendly all the way (the good cop).
A semi polished dog and pony show with props. Smartly mounted documents and awards from official sounding institutions, splashy pictures, happy smiling faces of other satisfied clientele etc etc. Revealing inside gossip and tidbits on the inner workings of the biz and owners, personal testaments of satisfied friends and relatives.
After all is said and done, having been shown around a bit it comes to the moment of truth, for which the closer (the bad cop) who you meet earlier and is mentioned obliquely throughout the pitch as 'the main operator' with special authority, implied powers of dominion over the earth (and therefore can cut you a deal) descends from on high, to deliver the Ten Commandments from which ye must decide ye fate, be cast out into the flames of Hades or sign up for the deal, join the flock and be a smiling face in those wonderful pictures, or something like that anyway.
Back in the day in the States when timeshare was the hot new thing, any number of friends and family would go and listen to the spiel, just to get the free goodies offered for listening. It's the hard sell. Used car dealers do it, real estate developers do it, financial product guys do it, Evangelists do it, door to door vacuum sales guys do it for cripes sakes! The fear that you're not gonna get something, that you're gonna lose out and look stupid. The implication that you're not being honest with yourself. You're guilty and you know it, you WANT it. We know it! Here's your chance to set yourself free, sign zee' papers old man, SIGN ZEE' PAPERS!
Anyway, this closer guy has been in Bangkok and the bar a bit longer than the other fellow. You've seen the type, Bangkok can have its deleterious effects. Some more 'serious' sounding hullabaloo and then the price. From the outset one is advised that in order to get the discount rate one must commit on this day and sign the contract. REALLY, guys? So they set out the full price and then the discounted price. After declining because, frankly for that kind of dosh I'd have to scrutinize long and hard about any purchase. Then the price comes down further. And then further as one continues to decline. On it goes, they trying to close a deal.
Cut to the chase, simply being honest I said (I vill not sign zee papers!) that I would have to think about it, no matter what the cost or discount. I collected the parting gift, shook hands with the pair and departed, amiably enough.
I can't say that these two rise to the level of 'criminal class' as Stick had intoned in his previous weekly. Seemingly harmless enough, actually a bit humorous and a bit sad, as us geezers get after a bit. Two long time hands trying to make a buck, and stay here for the full ride. The internet has a few people crying the blues after buying in to their too good to be true claims though.
During the presentation I'd had two cups of Joe, and on top of the two consumed for breakfast was pretty damn wired and spooled up from dealing with the two blokes tryin' on the hard sell. So, stepping back to one of the sois, ready to beat feet back to safety and sanity, it weren't 10 paces when an aggressive massage girl stepped out to make her pitch. Reflexively beginning to decline, when she quickly referred me to one of her compatriots who, with her simple sultry good looks changed the equation. This promised to change the complexion of the day, which was definitely in order, with an outlay of cash which certainly was less than what Ziggy and Boner wanted, and immediate gratification was in the cards and no contract to sign? Yippee, quickly ushered in and delivered from bedeviled and stressed mind, I commenced in a highly enjoyable session with a really nice, young, brown lass. With a nice small, well, you know.
Oh now that was the delightful and unexpected 'joining' that we come here for guys. REALLY!
It's kind of sad that these timeshare operators are still operating, especially as they pester folks in a part of town where policemen and city hall officials patrol but do nothing. For expat residents they are but a mild nuisance. The girls trying to suck you in to a meeting are pleasant when things go their way and they are controlling the conversation but as soon as things turn and you decline or merely shake your head they can hiss at you like an aggressive snake.