An oversized postcard came in the mail a few decades ago that read something to the effect that if I, “Tour our fabulous condominiums in Great Lakes Paradise Retirement Manor Community (not the real name), then we will give you a free weekend in Florida!” I had already been to Florida, but I thought that I would like to go again. On the postcard was a little map, showing the lovely white Great Lakes Paradise condos elegantly laid out in dreamlike pastel watercolors amongst tree-lined ponds. But I sensed it was a fraud. I forget the particulars, but I remember thinking that it was all together too good to be true. I called anyway and signed up for a sales presentation because I always enjoyed an outing to the Great Lakes region of the United States, and I lived only a few hundred miles away at the time, which was an easy drive for me. I would take some side trips along the way to amuse myself, which I did.
I did wonder why anyone selling condos in the upper Midwest would be giving away trips to the south in Florida, and that question was answered upon arrival. At the sales pitch venue for Great Lakes Paradise condos, which was located out of sight of the actual condos, I was greeted by young girls in skintight short dresses and rough men in shiny suits, all with Floridian accents. Ohhh. It is difficult to recoup losses from Out-of-Staters.
I tried to ask a couple of questions, but was funneled firmly into the sales presentation room with about fifty other people who, from the look of them, were also there for the free trip to Florida.
The presenter was an earnest young Floridian who ardently wished to sell us his once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to buy condos, but we had to buy today or no deal. He seemed new to sales, and he occasionally lost his place in his spiel. His fallback was to ask us to “believe” him, without having said anything in particular to believe. No one spoke whenever he looked around for our response. After a while, his audience began to shift around a little and to peer through the exit arches into the next room to see what was next. He showed no signs of relenting, pushing on for our answers to questions we did not quite understand, or did not want to understand. I did not intend to be inimical, but I had become bored and decided to respond for the group. The next time he asked us to “believe” him, I retorted in a loud, playfully petulant voice, “I can’t, I’m Egyptian and I live in the land of de-Nile.” His audience, who was now also my audience, waited to see how he took such impertinence. He said, “What, what?” to which I only beamed provocatively at him. I think of myself as well-behaved in public, but apparently that was not always the case. He decided to ignore me. He could not catch my meaning, even though I continued to respond the same way every time he asked us to “believe” him. The audience certainly caught my drift. Every time I piped up in reference to my joke saying, “I’m Egyptian!” they threw back their heads and laughed merrily. It may have added to the fun that I have not the slightest resemblance to a typical Egyptian. It did not occur to me until this day that my hilarities might have softened up some of the more susceptible for a coup de grâce sale.
Eventually, the confounded presenter released us to take our places at small tables in the sign-up room. As we went through the exit arches, sales staff intent on their commissions collared the potential sale they thought most likely and escorted them to their table. It was like cowboys cutting the fattest cattle out of the herd. It was very well-organized, and no one wanted me. Instead a burly Floridian thug gripped me by the elbow to escort me out of the door. I dug in my heels because fair is fair and I did not think he could do much to me in full view of what was now, my audience. (I may have been mistaken in that but all’s well that ends well.) Carefully following my own notion of protocol, I asked for a tour of a condo, but my request was denied, “No one is available.” Personally, I thought they did not exist. I asked for literature, and I was given another postcard. I demanded my free trip to Florida, and the burly Floridian thug looked deeply into my eyes. He must have seen some sort of kindred soul there, because he gave a wry smile. He tighten his grip on my elbow, shoved cheap airplane tickets to Florida and a one-night hotel room confirmation into my greedy, little hand, and booted me out the door, so to speak. I had gone nose-to-nose with a burly Floridian thug, lived and thrived. I enjoyed my free weekend in Florida very much.
Caption: I told you I was an Egyptian in denial.
by Annmarie Throckmorton 2018