Early Lessons

We lived in a roach infested apartment on University Avenue, near what we called “The Projects” as if there were only on projects.  I was about ten years old.  Maybe younger.  And was home in the afternoon (probably playing at being sick) when the doorbell rings.  Mom goes to answer it. I follow her like duckling.  There is a man in a brown business suit standing in the doorway with a white book in his hand.

He’s going through some sort of spiel about how important knowledge is, and he’s offering it all in the glorious World Book Series.  There are 22 books that cover everything from ants to zebras.  He opens up the book he has, and somehow manages to worm his way into the kitchen and we’re all sitting at the kitchen table while he continues showing transparent plastic layers showing how the human body is put together.  And here’s the lesson part, the entire time, I’m begging my mom to get them.  Only some amount of money that meant nothing to me,and he’d go back out to his car and bring in the 21 other books plus a bonus book.

Please mom. To me it was like some God coming down promising answers to all the questions.  I had my mother flustered to the point where she took money from her pocketbook, signed something, and we watched as the suited guy went to get the rest of the books.

So we were duped. Conned. Sold a bill of goods. We walked over to the window that looked out on University Avenue and watched the man with the books get into a very nice sedan and drive away.  I almost imagined that he waved at as suckers as he left.

Mom knew she’d been taken the minute the guy left the house.  She actually went back to the front door but the guy was gone.

That was an early conman lesson.  It really is all about getting the mark’s confidence.


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