Thursday, March 18, 2010


Me and the wife at a SuperTarget recently. She's off browsing some section of the store. I wander off to check a nearby section. I turn a corner and see a guy walking towards me. Guy breaks into a smile and points a finger at me with an expression of a slowly dawning familiarity.

GuyFromTraget (GFT): "Hey - do I know you from somewhere? You look familiar."
Me: "Really? Sorry I can't seem to place you." (I'm trying real hard though!)
GFT: "I think I saw you at #$% - are you a student there?"
Me: (realizing that it might be possible I met this guy somewhere at #$% while I used to work over there) "Yeah. I used to be at #$% but not as a student. I was a researcher and I also worked with faculty at the business school."
GFT: "Yeah. Yeah. The business school. I think I met you over there. Cool. I'm {GFT}.
Me: "I'm Sarat. Nice to meet you {GFT}."
GFT: "So Sarat, what do you do?"
Me: "I am currently looking for work but I am actually a computer science researcher and software developer (I go off into my small prepared intro that I have had the opportunity to use extremely often these last few months - with limited success)."
GFT: "Really? What do you work on?"
Me: "I am visualization expert. I focus on visualizing and analyzing data, that is, make graphical representations of complex information to make them more easier to absorb and understand quickly."
GFT: "Oh Cool. That's really very interesting."
Me: "So what do you do?"
GFT: "Oh. I am an entrepreneur. I work in the distribution and retail industry."
Me: "Cool! Good to hear."
GFT: "You have a business card or something? We're constantly looking for people who can work with us."
Me: "Sure. I don't have a business card anymore - but here's my phone number. Do you have a business card yourself?"
GFT: "Thanks. No - I'm not carrying one but here's my email address."
Me: "Thanks. Nice meeting you - and good luck with your venture."
GFT: "Nice meeting you as well. Good luck with your job search."

Chance meeting over. Driving home from SuperTarget. I'm thinking: Wow. GFT seemed like a real nice guy. I wish I had recognized him. I need to do something about being so forgetful and stuff off late.

Couple of days later, phone rings.

Me: "Hello?"
Voice: "Sarat? Hey - this is {GFT} - we met at the Target."
Me: "Oh Hey. I do remember. How are you?"
GFT: "Good. Good. Listen - are you still looking for work?"
Me: "Sort of."
GFT: "I may have an opportunity for you if you are interested."
Me: "Cool. What does it involve?"
GFT: "I only have a minute right now but me and my associate would like to meet with you sometime. Do you have time on Tuesday or Wednesday?"
Me: "Not on Tuesday. But Wednesday evening's good?"
GFT: "Cool. How about 8pm at Panera Bread on Wednesday?"
Me: "Uh... Ok. Sounds good."
GFT: "Good. You will show up though right?"
Me: "Oh of course. I'd be happy to learn more about the job opportunity."
GFT: "Excellent. So see you on Wednesday at 8 p.m."

Cool! That chance meeting turned out to be interesting. There might be something there. Of course, a lot of potential job opportunities for me haven't quite turned out right off late. But meeting with people is the most important thing when looking for a job, right?! Plus maybe distribution industry folks need my analytics experience and stuff. So it might be useful to meet those guys - if not now then maybe sometime in the future.

Wednesday evening - 8:05 p.m. @ Panera Bread. I am sitting at a table all by myself waiting for {GFT} and his associate to show up. Phone rings.
Me: "Hello?"
GFT: "Sorry I am running a little late because of a conference call. However, my associate {Ass} is on his way over to meet you. He should be there in a few minutes. Is that Ok?"
Me: (Something starting to feel a little off - dunny why tho). "Umm... Ok. But I have no idea what I am meeting for yet." (Ok - dat why!)
GFT: "Dont worry. {Ass} will explain everything."

8.30 p.m. A guy - not GFT - walks in wearing a buttoned shirt, trousers and a tie with a couple of other nicely dressed folks.

Ass: "Sarat? Hey - I am {Ass} and I work with {GFT}. This is {Ass_2} and {Ass_3}."
GFT: "Nice to meet you."
Ass: "So {GFT} explained to you what this is about right."
Me: "Nope. I really have no idea what this is about and what you guys do other than that you wanted to meet me regarding a potential job opportunity for me." (I'm starting to feel that this is all going to lead to something monumentally horrible... still not sure how or what tho!)
Ass: "This is actually not about a job opportunity for you but about a way for you to be self-employed and make some money."
Me: (A sinking feeling in my stomach. Realization finally dawns on me - I got suckered into meeting with the class of people I detest the most...) "Oh ... Ok!"
Ass: "So basically let me tell you how..."

Ass launches into his marketing spiel with fancy acronyms and charts. But I'm not really listening to the drivel. My mind has already raced back to the Target meeting with {GFT} and the epiphany that I've just been had with the "Dont I know you from somewhere?" trick! That's right! I've just been had by a fking pyramid scheme dude peddling some new kind of pyramid scheme BS.

15 minutes later the meeting ends. Although for me the meeting had been over 15 minutes ago. It was supposed to go on for another hour or more. I decided that I had had my fun though. That fun involved interrogating Ass about their pyramid scheme, about why I would buy stuff from him when I could buy at wholesale prices from Sam's Club or Costco, about why they having a website is no great shakes because the wholesaler membership clubs like Costco and Sam's have their own website as well, about how much profit each customer of his really makes, about how much he makes on each of his customer's profit, about why the products he sells have no real benefit for me... and so on.

I take pity on myself and the fool. I've had enough. I tell him I'm done - that I am looking for a job and that this whole setup was miscommunicated to me by {GFT} and that you guys should go after him for wasting both our time.

Meeting over, I call the wife and I tell her we need to celebrate me being had by another pyramid schemer - after a 10 year gap. She's laughing too. The only good thing that came out of it - they guy behind the counter at Panera gave me a free coffee. Small mercies like that let you keep faith in humanity.

Those that feed on the insecurity of folks in real tough situations are the worst of sh&t. Good trick tho GFT. But I'm hopefully not falling for that one again.


Sujith said...

I feel for you, dude.
The same line was played on me umpteen times in the last 6 months here. (un)Fortunately, this kind of thing goes on in Bangalore too so my alarm was on instantly. I had some fun giving them wrong numbers but that was not satisfying enough after a while. You know, I had tried reasoning with a colleague in Bangalore who wanted to pull me to join, but people who have these making-it-rich-quick-god-knows-how-it-really-happens-but-it-happened-to-that-one-guy "dreams" seldom listen to reason.

Oh well, at least this does give an awesome insight into human nature.

raoul said...

Say, don't I know you from somewhere?

Ravi said...

I cannot take the grin off my face. No wonder you did not mention it when we met. :)):)):)):))

Next time, try to sucker him into your own pyramid scheme :)

Sarat said...

@Sujith: Sucks that the sh*t goes on in B'lore a lot. I remember some ex-college folks sending emails about exciting new opportunity and stuff. I remember replying then that you'd have no friends, no family and no soul left - also not much money left - after a few months of that crap. Pyramid schemes are proven, non viable crap. I am surprised that regulators across the world have not taken serious action against such dubious entities.

@Raoul: Man - I have an exciting deal for you too. It's called "Having a Baby". Very profitable in the long run I've been told.

@Ravi: Yeah! The sucker got me with the words "job opportunity". My BS pattern matcher hasn't had a keyword update in a while. I wouldn't recommend experiencing being out of a job as a good emotional experience.

Next time I see him, I'd tell him that the local Orthopedics center is looking for new patients and are willing to offer a couple of thousand dollars for new patients. The catch - you would need to have a broken bone. I'd pay him the $1000 upfront in return for letting me break a few fingers. Any guesses whether he'd take up the offer?

Ketaki said...

Really surprised you fell for that shit. Anytime an unfamiliar desi says "have we met before?" They have to be one of those idiot Quixtar people. BEWARE. I blogged about this several years ago remember? Of course you don't remember!

Anyway, my response to them is "do you work for quixtar or anything like it? If yes, then bye bye."

Sarat said...

@Ketaki - I surprised myself when I fell for that shit. Maybe the fact that he wasn't a desi may have thrown me off a little.