Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Pyamid Of Northcote

Heading out to dinner last night, we walked to Northcote train station. We dutifully tried to 'touch on' with our Myki cards but neither of the sensors were working. It's a good system, when it works. In a bit of role reversal, The Dreaded One gave up after a couple of attempts while I got all terrier on its arse. I was convinced I could get it to work by trying again and again, swearing at it and biting the end of my tongue. Finally it did indeed work, the little blinky light came on and the screen told me that $3 had been deducted from my account. Punch the air! High five! Yesss!

Then one of the two only other people on the station pushed the button that dials into the timetable place and the recorded message came over the loudspeakers to tell us that there were no trains running, that busses had replaced the trains. Awesome. This has happened before. What I don't get is why the hell someone doesn't put a sign up telling us that this is the case. There is absolutely no indication anywhere that there are no trains running. Just pin a hand-written note to the wall. Hell - they make automated announcements at other times telling us about delays - surely... oh never mind. Lesson learned after this happening for the second time - assume the trains are not running and confirm this before paying for your ticket.

The other couple left at the same time as us and asked if we were going into the city. We were going to Richmond, on the way to the city. The guy suggested we share a cab. They seemed like nice people. They had been laughing, they were well dressed, well spoken, young and good looking so we thought why not? This kind of thing always seems to be happening in Melbourne. Strangers strike up conversation at tram stops and railways stations. I don't recall this being quite so common in Sydney.

Anyway, we started walking back up to the main road. The Dreaded One and the guy walked ahead chatting about general stuff and I started talking to the girl. She was amazingly pretty and had a strange accent that I eventually had to ask her about. She said she was Persian. Conversation was easy. We flagged a cab and the conversation kept flowing. They seemed genuinely interested in our story of selling our home, traveling the world and settling in a new city. They lived nearby and I could sense this being the beginning of a new friendship. His name was Aria. Hers was Paria.

As promising as the vibe was I was content to leave things up to fate. If we bump into them again in the hood, cool, we'll say hello and see what happens.

But as we drew close to our drop off point, with Aria and Paria continuing into the city, the conversation changed colour.

"So," Aria said to The Dreaded One from the front seat, "if you're working corporate hours, I guess you have a bit of free time on your hands."

Everything about him changed in that one question. A dull bell chimed. My radar came on. Time to hit the conversational eject button.

We talked a bit about how we fill in our spare time. We have lots of interests, loads of things we enjoy doing with our spare time. Aria was deaf to this. He knew he only had a couple of minutes before we got out of the cab.

"So you have free time then... I just mention this because Aria and I are involved in a plan that help people and lets you make a bit of money at the same time. That's why we do it - because we like to help people. Maybe you're not interested in helping people though... "

It was time to get the hell out. The cab pulled over and we worked out how much we owed. Aria pushed on with his spiel. I felt compelled to be polite but was not interested, and in fact was pretty pissed that he had ruined the vibe like this. I asked upfront what the name of the scheme was.

"Oh I don't want to tell you the name of it without explaining it properly... I mean I could tell you the name but... maybe I can take your number and talk to you about it over coffee sometime..."

I asked if he had a card as I slid across the seat to the open door, Paria standing outside to let us out. He didn't have a card, but he could take our number and call us sometime.

Jesus. He hadn't been genuinely interested in us at all, at least not on a decent, personal level. He had just been profiling us to see if we might want to sit below him on whatever pyramid scheme he was involved in. I had gone from thinking this is one of those random meetings that could lead to new friendship to feeling like an idiot. Everything had gone from shiny to grubby in the name of peddling some sham scheme.

I got out of the cab and chatted to Paria about the weather while The Dreaded One politely gave Aria her number. This is fine because we can just tell him we're not interested. I kind of hope that they are decent people (I think they are) who will accept no for an answer then either stay in touch without bringing it up again, or they will accept no and disappear. I don't care either way.

I just find it a bit sad that someone can pretend to be interested in you, to appear genuinely interested in you as a person while all the time waiting for an opportunity to sting you. A family member did this once. Managed to get me to invite her over for dinner only to say something about something she could show The Dreaded One and I at the same time, because we might be interested in making some money out of this thing. I asked what the thing was. She wouldn't tell me because it really needed to be explained in detail and she could do that after the dinner we were going to cook for her. I called it off and didn't hear from her again.

I know Aria knew our walls were up. I know he knows we'll be a hard sell. Thing is, it won't work. When it comes to this kind of thing I like to get to the point, and the point is he's on some level of a dodgy money-making scheme and we don't want anything to do with it. Those things are for suckers. There will be no meeting to discuss things if it's not something he can't quickly and easily describe over the phone. We won't be dropping by their place if there happens to be a casual party at their place one afternoon. Thinking about it, his call will probably be screened and we'll probably not call back. We might bump into them on the street one day. We'll be polite but now better prepared, as soon as he gets his pyramid on I'll cut him off and explain that if they want to be friends, fine, but we are not his next targets and if that's all he sees us as, hasta la vista.

Also, Persian? Isn't that Iranian? I guess it does sound better these days.


Guyana-Gyal said...

And check out the guilt trick: 'Maybe you're not interested in helping people though.'

Lee said...

Exactly, GG. A very well placed passive aggressive comment it was. Desired reponse: No of course I like helping people.

Very predictable and tiresome.