First, here's my tip of the day: There are proverbs etched on the bellies of those statues on Easter Island. And one of 'em is: He who laughs at your stupid jokes is up to no good. (Remember that next time you go on a date.)
Now for the story: Markel didn't want me to be left out of his latest ground floor business opportunity - something called Scamway - that's been around since the serpent in Mel Gibson's movie conned Eve.
So we showed up at Denny's restaurant where a room full of glassy-eyed goofballs were pretending to be sharp business people. It reminded me of another Easter Island etching that says "Being doted on by a crowd of annoying scamsters is not a good thing." That's when I asked Markel if this was some kind of weird used-car salesmen cult. The whole room roared with laughter evoking eerie images of ugly statues.
The Chief Scamster arose to click his power point presentation about the time my Tex-Mex Chicken-in-a-Bagel Skillet arrived. Before Scamway came along, this guy said he lived on the edge of bankruptcy in a roach-infested trailer park. Now he lives in a 39-room, 4,000 square foot home on a lake. Geez, I thought, I wonder if that's the same apartment building where Uncle Afred lives?
All you need do is enroll eight more people, he said while flailing his arms with help-I'm-being-attacked-by-a-swarm-of-wasps enthusiasm. "If you enroll eight people this week who enroll eight people who enroll eight people, in eleven short weeks all 6.4 billion inhabitants of the earth will be in your down line including Madonna and an extra 2 billion from some unknown galaxy."
How could I refuse?
$29.95 buys my own business. "That's less than a McDonald franchise," he added.
For that I get the privilege to annoy my friends with a catalog full of Baptist-slash-Mormon looking models using over-priced detergent, vitamins and cosmetics in concentrate. And it comes in a handsome binder.
"Any questions?" he asked.
"There are no stupid questions," he added. (He's never met Uncle Alfred.)
I like a challenge. So I asked, "If chickens don't have noses, where do they keep their boogers?"
The woman across the table, named Hannibal-Lector-in-a-Dress, nodded. "Good question," she said, "I've always wondered that myself."
"And what if I buy this stuff and find out its crap?"
The group chuckled at my naivet?.
"I cut my arm off a year ago and took some of these here vitamins," one guy testified. "And whaddaya know?! My arm grew back. Hairs and all."
Chief Scamster then told how to make the big bucks roll in.
First, be your own best customer. Dumping all your cleaning supplies, laundry detergent and cosmetics in the trash and replacing them with overpriced concentrate is a sure sign of financial genius, he explained. What's more, it's important to believe in your product.
Second, make a list of everyone you want to annoy. This includes friends, family, coworkers and everyone in the white pages from the three nearest towns.
Third, systematically annoy everyone on your list. Invite them out to dinner where they, too, can be immersed in a crowd of glassy-eyed, goofy-looking scamsters.
Fourth, act giddy. Phony enthusiasm is a proven sales gimmick, especially when coupled with idiotic product testimonials.
Fifth, emphasize the success potential by pointing out the vast number of gullible people who think they are all destined to be pyramid millionaires.
Sixth, ask your friends if they would like to quit their jobs and work part time for a six-figure income. (Don't tell them that four of the six digits are to the right of the decimal.)
Seventh, never use words like "multi-level marketing" because someone may get the idea that your multi-level marketing scheme is a multi-level marketing scheme.
Eighth, project the image of success by buying a new Lexus. Getting in debt up to your glassy eyeballs is a tried-and-proven sales strategy.
Ninth, just think of all the stuff you can deduct from your income taxes, like one eighth of your bedroom if you use the corner for a home-office. Yes sir, you can pave your road to riches by wasting long hours for a tiny tax deduction.
Tenth, stay motivated by wasting an obscene amount of money on motivational tapes and CDs. Someday, when you hit the big time, you, too, can screw your down line out of thousands of dollars.
Next week. How to retire early buying lottery tickets.