Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Land of the Timeshares

It's a lot like the Land of the Lost, the part where Marshall, Will, and Holly scream while going over the waterfall.

Back when I first moved to Portland, my wife signed up for a contest at a baseball game and we got a call telling us we'd won four free airline tickets. I was hoping for cash and a new long-distance plan, but no such luck.

So anyhoo, we're told we have to attend a 90-minute presentation to get the free airline tickets. I give my wife the "Let me do the talking" look, (because I'm better at thinking up movie lines) and we're seated in a makeshift auditorium inside a non-descript office park.

We're sitting there with a bunch of other nervous suckers, watching Johnny Carson take the axe to the package for the millionth time on an old "Best of Carson" video. The door flies open and a team of lively used car salesmen knock-offs in Hawaiian shirts come in and grab us, one couple at a time, leading us into a giant room full of tables. We're offered free popcorn in a 5 oz bag and a Dixie cup full of soda, both of which I politely decline. A $60.00 Target boombox is blaring pop music, which makes it difficult for me to concentrate on anything other than the Manson Family and the best way to gut a room full of salespeople with a Swiss Army knife.

Our guy is named Derek or Dean or Dudley -- I don't remember which -- and he's wearing a black Men's Warehouse suit and sporting a surfer-spiky hairdo. He's got a silver dollar-sized bald spot budding on his dome, which for some reason I find more interesting than his introductory patter.

He starts off by establishing a "personal" relationship with us. We hear about his wife who left on a vacation and never came back, his custody battle for his daughter, his job at the injun casino, his subsequent gambling problem, his bouts with depression, his mother, who took off on his father, and his old man who could never afford to take him on vacation. This has significance somehow, so I pretend to take notice.

Apparently, he and his dad spent their free time watching haircuts down at the barbershop or the bacon slicing over at the nearby Safeway. Once a year, they'd go down to the river and take Poloroids of the barge traffic. It was all very sad. My wife is a much better actress than I; she lends a solemn look of motherly concern his way. I am busy glancing around looking for the obligatory bottle of Prozac and small metal flask of cheap whiskey he's undoubtedly got hidden somewhere. It was a game to keep me from slapping him, and I was sure as hell not going to leave without finding them.

He notices my attention drifting by the fact that I'm doing a crossword puzzle and humming a Coors Light beer jingle, so he turns on my wife to establish the all-important personal rapport, a tactic that was no doubt drilled into his head during his five days of employee training.

[If anyone is getting tired, grab a pillow and sit back, go 'head and grab that second cup of coffee, I'm almost finished.]

We find out the company is called Bluegreen Vacations, that they own about 30-odd properties, and that to get our airline tickets we have to listen to his presentation. The company sells "points" that can be used at various properties at various times, which doesn't sound half-bad. We tour a makeshift model condo and he reads placards about things we can do -- horseback riding, jet skiing, mini-tobogganing, etc. Most of the properties are in Florida, and he looks puzzled when I ask if the yearly "maintenance fees" include cleaning up properties that are blown out on the Interstate during the annual hurricane season.

We finally get down to brass tacks, and the dream package of 9,000 points is available to us for only $550 a month for the next 60 months. This allows us to stay at a beautiful condo for only $150 a week. After I stop laughing, he calls over his boss, who makes the special trial package available to us for only $200 per month, plus maintenance fees, because we seem like such nice people. Ain't he just swell? He looks like he's ready to bear my children right then and there. It's all got to be done today, signed, sealed, etc., OR we can come back at a later time and pay more if we so desire.

We thank them both for the slick presentation and the free popcorn, declining repeatedly as they add more freebies to the deal. Darren or Dagwood -- whatever, grabs my leg and sits on my shoe as I make my way to the door, and pleads with us to at least give him the names of people he can call on so that he won't get in trouble with the head mounty.

So we give him the names of the biggest freakin' jerkoff neighbors we can think of and go off to collect our airline tickets. They're good anywhere in the USA as long as you stay 10 days in a hotel that costs $300 dollars-per-night.

It was my first experience with timeshare people, and after I checked my wrist to make sure my watch was still there, I drove home with my wife. I grabbed the kids, and with visions of Disney World, Aspen, and Myrtle Beach playing in my head, took them all down to the river to watch the barge traffic.

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I'm sorry for being intrusive in to your blog. But I am Melissa and I am a mother of two that is just trying to get out of an incredible financial debt. See my hubby is away in Iraq trying to protect this great country that we live in, and I am at home with our two kids telling bill collectors please be patiant. When my husband returns from war we will beable to catch up on our payments. We have already had are 2001 Ford repossessed from the bank, and are now down to a 83 buick that is rusted from front to back and the heater don't work, and tire tax is due in November.

I'm not asking for your pitty because we got our ownselfs into this mess but we would love you and thank you in our prayers if you would just keep this link on your blog for others to view.

God Bless You.

Melissa K. W.
To see my family view this page. My Family

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