I got conned today. It wasn’t a conventional con – that is to say, I wasn’t actually ripped off of any money, it was more of a psychological scam. I was preyed upon for my good nature.
Let me pitch you the scenario.
I was having a bad day anyway. It’s raining heavily, I have a headache and my bus to the cinema was not only running late by about twenty-five minutes, it was actually so slow that I ended up jumping off and walking. Needless to say, I beat the bus to town on foot, a small victory, albeit I got very wet.
I nipped in to Sainsbury’s for an expensive sandwich to see if I could abate my headache, but due to their astonishing lack of anything enveloped in bread, I ended up perusing the salads and buying a Caesar Salad (what am I, post pregnancy?)
The rain hadn’t let up, and as I left the shop I was practically running to reach the cinema for three different reasons:
1) I was late for The Next Three Days. Never be late for Russell Crowe.
2) It was raining, and despite a fair grasp of the bit of physics that dictates running through rain is equal to walking through it (your body displaces the same amount of water), I wasn’t thinking rationally.
3) I was trying to avoid the people in umbrellas and charity printed t-shirts who persist in hassling passers-by even in the rain. Don’t get me wrong, some of them are doing a great job raising money for good causes (others are just twats flogging hair cuts), but it reaches a point where you can’t walk down the street without being harangued. It’s tiresome.
Anyway, I was mid-run across the street, when a girl, she had an umbrella but was devoid of a charity Tee (how could I have known?!!), addressed me politely:
“Excuse me, do you know the way to Burlingtons?”
I paused. I was late, it was wet, but honestly, the poor girl was looking for somewhere in this rain, the least I could do was respond.
“Sorry, never heard of it.” I turned to go, but it was too late.
“That’s great!”, she said, “that means I can give you one of these!” She shoved something in my hand and proceeded to espouse some Hair salon or other, enthusing that my girlfriend, mum or sister would love it and that Burlington’s were doing a great deal of 90% off a full make-over, normally worth £500 but offered today for just £60. “How great is that?!” She exclaimed.
I had several problems with her sales patter. Firstly, she doesn’t know the girls in my life. None of them would want that (except perhaps my girlfriend, and she’d like the idea of it more than the actual thing), and even if they did, why would I be the one willing to shell out £60 in the street to buy it for them?
Secondly, something irritated me about her suggestion of the price. “Worth £500!” I took her up on it.
“Hang on a minute, I only know it’s worth £500 because you’re telling me it is, and you work for them so you’re not an entirely reliable source. Additionally, 90% off £500 doesn’t leave the price at £60, it leaves it at £50, so that’s just not true (your credibility is dropping like a stone), and finally – even if I was carrying 60 (or 50) quid on me, I’m a bloke, and that remains an extortionate price for a God forsaken haircut!”
There was a pause.
“Do you want to know what comes with it?”
It was at this point that I asserted that I really was running late, and that there was no way I was prepared to pay £60 for it. She wished me a fine day, ironically, given that she’d just added to a growing list of reasons why it was most definitely anything but ‘fine’, and I darted off through the scatter of rain drops and bus shelters to watch me a ‘fine’ film. (In all fairness, the film was much better than I anticipated. Flawed on numerous levels, but still entertaining, and probably the highlight of my day.)
So where was the con? You are thinking. The con, is that this girl, who was chubby but otherwise perfectly pleasant, used my own good nature (stopping to help with directions) to try to take my money. It was dishonest. If you are the type of person who pays through the nose to momentarily make yourself feel better about your dwindling looks, don’t go to Burlingtons – Unless you go in to tell them that you know exactly where they’re located and you still don’t want the shit they’re flogging.