July 9, 2010

Who am I?

I sat there seething, torn between wanting to leave and wanting to let the angry verbiage flow. I could feel the adrenaline pumping and my heart was racing. Surely they can all see it's snake oil being peddled?

I am a skeptic. Through and through. When someone want's to sell me something and it has a sales pitch to go with it, my fight or flight reflexes kick in. As a nine or ten year old, I would question if the toy they were trying to sell me on T.V. was as exceptional as I was being told or if it was all smoke and mirrors. Smoke and mirrors would have usually been more fun.

So, half way through our monthly Made In Ojai member Co-op meeting, in the middle of our heated debate about space sizes and the epic, monolithic stature of my new and apparently hated display (it is a tale for another day....) we were asked to listen to a sales pitch. What was being sold? Nothing that I hadn't seen before, but it was being sold in a whole new way. We've all been into the new age shops and seen various crystals touted to protect us and our fragile chakras. The person addressing our group had clearly done this before. What was she selling? "Millions uf specially developed micro crystals, invisible to zee naked eye!" She proclaimed with her beautiful european accent. Where were these millions of micro crystals? "In zee middle of zee high quality resin!" She said enthusiastically as she passed around samples of pretty, diamond shaped pendants. Looking more like large glass tiles, tinted with different colors than the metaphysical device she was describing, I thought "Oh! Pretty!" As they passed around the circle, going hand to hand it was explained to us that a scientist (apparently with many an ailment) developed these to help protect us from EMF's (electromagnetic fields) which make us to unbalanced and cause illness. To prove their effectiveness she asked for volunteers. A woman stood from our group. Mind you we had been sitting at our meeting for about forty-five minutes, the volunteer was asked to stand on one foot, hold her arms out at her sides and resist when when her arm was pushed on. Standing on her left leg, the woman pushed on her right arm and over she went, unable to keep from falling. Over and over again. Now, she asked if she could place one of the pendants on the volunteer and asked her to wait a few minutes while she explained more about them. This is where the smoke and mirrors comes in. The time passed and she asked again, "Stand on one foot with your arms out." This time she pushed on her arm and the volunteer remained solid as a rock, unwavering. WOW! Fantastic!

And this is where I have a problem. She didn't push on the same arm as before. She pressed down on the opposite arm, the one that had the leg firmly planted on the ground. Also, having been standing for 5 minutes her body was allowed to adjust from the sitting to standing position. What does this have to do with emf's? Are you kidding me? "How much?" someone asked. "Thirty-six dollars. That is the wholesale price for you today. They regularly sell for..." are you ready for this..."Sixty dollars." And she said it with a strait face! I asked "Did you say sixteen? 1-6 dollars?" Nope. $60.

She was performing the same demonstration on another member of our group and I was about to comment on what I had noticed, when another of our group got up and wanted to purchase one. At our last meeting, this same member revealed to us that they were fighting cancer. I couldn't say anything. Who am I to destroy that hope? Who am I to say that this thing wouldn't protect them from electromagnetic fields? Maybe they just thought they were pretty?

Who am I?

I hope it does work.


Spirited Earth said...

i'm with you..but i suppose people are free to spend their dollars how they want..however,..i think the sales pitch at your co-op meeting was very inappropriate..
if someone wants to hand out flyers..well maybe..but taking up offical time with a personal promotion is not right..why did the co-op allow that..
especially one that is touting(?) health issues. it might just be me but my head would be on fire.

inojai said...

Hah Gaea! I'm with you. So skeptical...It's like when my friend took me to a Primal Scream introductory class way back in the '70s. $1000s of dollars to have them humiliate you.
I too wondered why we had to endure that sales session when we were already stretched with our patience. And the cost! Yikes!
The girl with the European accent had a nice figure, I noticed as I looked up at her butt from my beach chair.
And I think she sold at least four of them.
Maybe Roberta was just trying to appease her as she might not be selling them in the store.

mairedodd said...

i think that targeting people in compromised positions is despicable - period... people look for hope wherever they can find it when they are desperate... i am with you...
your shop sounds like it promotes handmade products - hope you can keep it real...

Mellisa - Chinook Jewelry said...

I think the thing that most bothers me about this kind of thing is the false hope it can give to people...in the worst case scenario an individual might forgo traditional treatment for the snake oil "cure"...Does the salesperson really believe the product works? How could they if they're giving a deceptive demonstration?

Kristi said...

Don't doubt your instincts. Bottom line.
Keep making your wonderful art!

Moags and Smeet said...

I enjoyed your post! :)

A tin-foil hat will protect you from those evil forces as well...doesn't make me want one though. I agree with Kristi - stick to your beautiful art.

~ Laura (Moags)

Andrew Thornton said...

Snake oil comes in all forms.

You know, the sad thing is that she probably picked the case of them up in Tucson during the Gem Show from an importer for $60.

Gaea said...

It's funny, it didn't bother me at first that time was taken from our meeting. We regularly have guests come to explain their products, but they are all locally made products (olive oil, soap, jelly) already sold in the shop and it's in effort to educate the people (us) who will be selling their goods. But this was so different not even a product made locally. Ugh! I've got to get to Tucson one of these years! I'll bring my tin foil hat. : )