Tuesday, 16 January 2007

Warning: possibly offensive

A neighbour came over recently and announced she was having a party, adding that it would be great if I could come. I don't know this neighbour very well, in fact, the only time she has spoken to me, was to sneer and hiss at our dogs...so for her to suddenly extend of the hand of friendship was rather unexpected.

"ALL the neighbours are coming", she gloated.

Of course, it was going to be one of THOSE parties.The picture on the invitation showed three women in party hats, wine in hand, streamers falling about them and party blowers - these "parties" are never like that.

Over the years, I have attended my fair share of sales gatherings (I refuse to call them PARTIES). I have been invited to events promoting the sale of books, cosmetics, tupperware, toys, linen, tealight candles, lingerie, crafts, and much much more. Many of these sales gatherings have been put on by very close friends or family, who I have been happy to support - we all have to make a buck somehow now, don't we?

I do have one friend however, who I only ever heard from when she was having a "sales gathering". She tended to ring me at the last minute, usually the night before, to inform me she was having an event, not many people were coming, so could I please come "to make up the numbers". I guess I am probably a bit oversensitive, but I can't help but be offended by that. "What... your real friends couldn't come?"

I must say - I would actually prefer it if I weren't invited to such events. I certainly don't want to sit around for two hours talking about plastic containers that cost the earth....sure, they have a lifetime guarantee (sigh...whatever, Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz). I always feel obliged to buy something - even if I don't want anything, and I don't really have the money to fritter away needlessly.

On the rare occasion that I have the strength to NOT buy anything, I wind up feel guilty that I enjoyed the hosts hospitality, nibbled on the chips and dip and generally wasted the sales reps time...I guess that is the effect that these organisations are kind of aiming for really.

I am also constantly amazed when I attend a sales gathering, and I witness other invitees getting so into it. They scan their glossy brochures with glassy eyed enthusiasm, pencils poise, ready for swift circling action when a desired item appears, not unlike a hunter preparing to snare a prized beast. And they discuss the items with such concentrated interest and expertise as if they are about to purchase a valuable rare antique.

"So....the three tiered pineapple piece dispenser...does it really guarantee to keep your pineapple fresh for up to 8 weeks while draining it of unnecessary liquids...I am impressed! I MUST have one of those." Oh please!

Or when the sales person starts the pitch, "just look at the quality ladies.... you won't find quality like this in any store. This egg flipper will turn a perfect fried egg every time or your money back". To which the hypnotised nod in unison, mesmerised by a bit of old plastic while frantically circling the item in the glossy brochure.

At the end of the night, invitees tally the cost of their selected items, have a minor heart attack, review the list and conclude that they simply can't go on living without a single one, especially the pancake flipper that comes with a pair of novelty oven mits, even though it looks suspiciously like the egg flipper, which is ESSENTIAL after all. They then extend a quivering hand, holding a cheque made out for a small fortune, and leave with an impending feeling of being ripped off, while the host salivates over the limited number of uninspiring host gifts and "free" sales target prizes.

I have NEVER held such a sales gathering. To me, there is something unsavory about inviting friends and acquaintances to spend their hard earned cash on items they could possibly find in a store, if they REALLY needed it..if not, SURELY they could call the appropriate sales gathering rep and place an order without having to endure the blessed "party".

Since living in this street, I have been invited to a Tupperware party, which I couldn't attend because had something else on (oh damn); two tealight candle parties, both times I had NO spare cash to fritter away on something I could never imagine ever using. I already have a couple of tealight candle holders, and honestly, two is enough....so I didn't go to either of those events.

I have noticed however, that the tealight candle neighbour refuses to acknowledge my existence, so I think my declining to attend was an offence - oops.

So.... in the spirit of being neighbourly and a good sport, I decided to attend the grouchy neighbours bloomin' sales gathering. I have no idea what product is on offer "Spirals Gourmetware - wire home decor" the invitation reads (...help me).


Tracey said...

I'm right there with you... been to a couple.. been caught out... come up with any excuse I can to never go to them again. Particularly when they are lingerie, or 'smelly stuff'...

I'm glad to have found someone who feels the same way as me. I was beginning the think there must be something wrong with me!

strauss said...

Welcome abroad, Tracey!

shishyboo said...

oooh I hate those parties... I mean sales gatherings (excellent term by the way).
The peer group pressure, the hovering sales rep, the guilt for not "supporting your host" (though that only applies if its a friend) aaarrrggghhh!.
You're a brave woman going, good luck!

Lowell said...

I am amazed at the different types of items that people will peddle at these "parties." In college a friend invited me to what I thought was a diner party. I was surprised to find that I was to spend two hours listening to why Amway was the thing that would far surpass any degree I could possibly earn. Fun time.

Catherine said...

Sales gatherings... EXACTLY. I absolutely CANNOT attend them. The last one I was dragged to was given by my then bosses' wife. Mary Kay cosmetics. Not only did I leave looking like I belonged on a street corner, but I was $150 poorer and supplied with a drawer full of things I would never end up using.

Good luck at the "party"! And give us the lowdown after it's over!