There are moments in life designed to remind you that you’ve moved into the next age bracket like not getting carded by bartenders or getting calls about life insurance. Being invited to a timeshare seminars is one of those moments.
Typically, you need to be over twenty-five or thirty to attend-I past that threshold years ago- and I was warned that they use free vacation getaways to lure you in.
Well, that’s how I ended up in the lobby of a hotel on a Wednesday afternoon. I was promised a four night stay in Hawaii so I sat in a stiff chair just blocks from the happiest place on earth, Disneyland. Seated beside me was a couple who had their hands interlaced as they smooched. Their love was hard to miss. I had gawked at the lovebirds long enough so I pulled out my bookmark and read Red Dragon.
Will Graham had arrived at the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally insane. He waited impatiently in the hallway as Dr. Lecter looked over a murder case. I glanced at my phone shocked to find that forty five minutes had past.
“Oh, they should have had you fill out this form,” said the woman at the front desk.
A four night stay in Hawaii, I needed to remind myself. Four nights paid-in-full and all I’d have to cover was the airfare.
My representative finally arrived. Shortish, balding, and sweating. His waist was as wide as his height. He had jet-black hair which obviously dyed. He pointed to the breakfast buffet while dabbing his forehead with a white handkerchief.
My pancakes were the size of orange slices. They were the dregs of the batch. Eventually, we made it to a room with small tables and a white projector screen pulled from the ceiling. The last time I had seen one was back in high school and I dreaded it now as much as I did then.
More representatives and people filled the room. There was light chatter then silence as the speaker arrived. His voice was crisp and loud. For a moment I wondered if there were speakers in the room because never had I heard such clarity. For ninety-minutes he spoke to us about how great, fun, and healthy vacations were for people. When it ended he shamelessly asked us to cheer for him and, like sheep, we did.
The representatives arrived escorting us to a second room with cubicles, comfy chairs, and a panaromic view of the city of Anaheim. There was a thin line of smog which coated every city in Orange County. I took a breath because for the next half hour, my representative summarized the ninety-minute presentation then said:
“Let’s take a look at the model room!”
Roman pillars and marble flooring welcomed visitors. Three rooms, a kitchen, and balcony. It was an apartment with a view of Disneyland with rolling mountains lining the horizon. Back at the cubicles, he spoke again about how this was a great investment.
“How much?” I interrupted not hiding my impatience.
“Let me get someone,” when he stood beams of light bounced off the white whiskers in his beard. Apparently they had eluded the black hair dye.
“$16,000 for a lifetime membership and after you pay it off it’s only $62 a month,” he was thinner, younger with thicker hair, but his hands were too pale to have seen the vacations he claimed to have travelled.
“It’s just not a good time,” I said as he nodded, but by his blank expression I could tell he was waiting to deliver another rehearsed pitch. Eventually, he relented and said he’d get the decline form.
The new guy was much older than the last two, “Before you sign the decline form allow me to tell you about this $2,000 deal with no lifetime commitment!”
I pursued my lips and said no thank you.
“So you don’t want to go on vacations ever?” said the man as I rolled my eyes. It was a cheap manipulative tactic.
The last person came over and in her hands was an envelope.
“Here is your complementary four-night hotel stay in Hawaii!”
I made it! My face was beaming with excitement, but when I glanced at the time on my phone my eyes widened.
Four hours! What the f—! I’m never doing this again!
As the day unwinded I sat in my reading chair to find Graham leaving the Baltimore Hospital. He never wanted to return, but somehow he knew he’d be back to see the doctor. My phone rang.
“Congratulations! You won two airline tickets to any city in the United States! All you have to do is attend our timeshare seminar!”
“Can I go to Hawaii with those ticket?”