This past weekend, my wife was minding her own business in a very literal sense at our neighborhood yard sale. That was until she was approached by a woman who wanted to share a very exciting opportunity with her. She wanted my wife to take a look at some products she had for sale. Ever pleasant and curious, my wife accepted the pretty green catalog. The woman was selling Herbalife: natural health and weight loss. Why wouldn't my wife be interested? Three simple letters: MLM.
Multiple Level Marketing has been the ruin of many a poor boy, and God I'm glad I'm not one. I am sure that the Herbalife Personalized Protein Powder would provide me with the results I so desperately need, both from a personal as well as a powder position, but I don't like the idea that I am going to be getting those results on the back of some poor schmuck who decided to get into the Herbalife game just a little late. Somebody's relative. Somebody's friend.
Once upon a time, I got a call from a chum of mine from school. It had been years since we had seen one another, and he invited me over to dinner. It never occurred to me that I was walking into an Amway Ambush. Being a clever sort, I immediately confronted this friend of mine from childhood: "You want me to work for you? Selling soap?"
"It's not what you think! It's not one of those pyramid schemes," and then it was too late. I wasn't in love with the idea of dragging a bunch of samples around and trying to find someone who needed paper towels by the caseload, but then trying to convince them to come and work for me so that I could stop selling paper towels by the caseload and start sitting on my couch counting money just wasn't going to happen. I didn't want to be part of the pyramid. Not at the bottom. Not at the top. It reeked of scam to me, even way back then.
I didn't finish dinner. I never saw my grade school pal again. He may have eventually found his underlings and ascended out of the one bedroom apartment in which he was living. Or maybe he used up the gallons of multi-purpose cleaner that he had shoved into his hall closet and moved on with his life. I hope he found happiness. But I will never understand how reasonable people become consumed and attached to such silliness. I understand that there are still plenty of people who believe that you can pop corn with cell phones. Responsible people with real jobs. They fall prey to the words that have been used for scams like this for years: "It really works!" It's simply a corollary to the words that make every ghost story truly scary: "It really happened." I guess, in the end, it depends on what is more terrifying: a guy with a stainless steel hook preying on young lovers in their cars, or some friendly face babbling on about a "business opportunity." They all end about the same, and no matter how many cell phones you use, they still won't pop corn.