This afternoon, after returning from a day at the beach, my neighbor’s son comes to the house to say his father invites me to his house. This happens all the time – a lovely part of neighborhood life here is the various kenduris: get-togethers for weddings, graduations, funeral rememberances (tahlil) or often much smaller events. The whole neighborhood shows up to eat a meal and possibly zikir a bit, depending on the occasion. For weddings there are usually invite cards, but often a representative of the household will drop by to personally invite.
So when the guy’s son came by, I put my sarong and kufi on and went over, even though I know him not so well and he’s never thrown one before. No sooner had I stepped in the door when I realized something was wrong. There was no food to be seen, and there were only a few guys in the room, all in office casual attire. It was a trap! They were all CNI agents! And, worse, I was the only one foolish enough to show up. All the other neighbors must have gotten wind of the plot. I couldn’t just run out, and the four of them immediately drew me into polite conversation. How many kids do you have? So how do you like Malaysia? They sounded out my bahasa skills. Can he understand our presentation in melayu? Oh, were they happy that I could.
Nobody else was turning up, so they sprang into their routine. They had a whiteboard. They had a banner. They had a suitcase full of product demonstrations. It was excruciating. There was hardly a single word of truth in the entire speech:
False appeals to peity:
MLM is the way of the Prophet, peace be upon him, because the Prophet praised the businessman. When my man is preaching MLM, it feels to him as though it is ibadat, worship, because he’s just spreading the good news around.
False appeals to racial solidarity:
MLM is the one business where Malays can succeed without the Chinaman holding them back.
False appeals to books he’s never read and experts the audience has never heard of.
False appeals to feelings of national inferiority:
MLM is famous and popular in the USA. CNI toothpaste is based on a Scandinavian formula.
Dubious personal testimonies:
He used to have mouth ulcers till he started using the amazing swedish CNI toothpaste. He used to feel tired when he came home from work. He went to see the doctor who told him there is no cure (undoubtedly because there is no disease). Then he drank CNI’s Tongkat Ali + Ginseng instant coffee. Now he’s so energetic that, with a packet a day, here he is on Sunday instead of home resting with his family just so he can give me this fantastic opportunity!
And finally, the brazen lie:
he derives no personal benefit from my decision to sell or not to sell my soul to CNI.
I tried to maintain consciousness by appreciating the technical aspects of the presentation: his hand gestures, his turns of phrase. At first I thought, maybe it will be brief, then I can beg off politely. It was not going to be brief. I tried to derail him by asking for the material in writing, to peruse at my leisure. He was not derailed. And he talked so fast, I couldn’t string my BM together fast enough to head him off. I tried a second time to throw him off his speech, but he was just too fast and too practiced.
Finally, his turn was over and he handed it off to his associate, who was, of course, his brother-in-law. Now, this guy was old enough to use a more avuncular style, with appeals to the authority of his decades of life experience. But his delivery was slow. First of all, it made me even more teeth-grindingly anxious to jump up out of there. Second, his pace allowed me to put together a suitable segue to extricate myself. I jumped up, shook hands through clenched teeth, and flew.
What a dirty trick. Sending your own kid out to mask your intentions. Wasting 30 minutes (they planned for 60) of your neighbors’ time in an attempt to exploit them for profit. I’ll never visit his house again.