yesterday afternoon we drove to williamsburg under grey skies. we settled into our nice hotel room which we had reserved online at a wildly discounted rate. on our way out for dinner we stopped to pick up a map from a woman named bunny stationed at an information desk in the lobby. bunny asked a few questions and after discovering that we would be visiting colonial williamsburg she asked if we wanted to learn about how to get two free tickets. of course we were curious, after all, tickets were $34 each for dan and i and another $17 for tashi.
as i suspected we would need to attend an information session and tour of a time-share resort. we would not only get two free tickets to williamsburg, we would get two free upgraded tickets that would allow us two day entry into certain buildings and shows the basic tickets wouldn't. at a $96 value, it seemed like 120 minutes at some time-share bullshit session was a fair trade. we also would get two free nights at any of several exotic resort locations, a nearly $500 value. not really our cup of tea but, you never know when you'll be stuck in hawaii without a place to stay.
in addition, bunny reassured me, a tour of the suites might give me some fabulous home decorating ideas. she recommended i bring my camera along so i could take these ideas home with me.
we signed some paper saying we had to be at the fairfield resort by 8:00 sharp or face lock up in the town pillory.
by the way, where did we plan to have dinner? bunny wondered. we knew she was going to try and convince us to eat somewhere that would give her kickbacks and when i mentioned that we were planning to go the indian restaurant she said she knew some people that had had a bad experience there. dan asked what their problem was and she said with the best-ever southern twang, "it wan'nt any gooood."
so we proceeded to the indian restaurant with only 45 minutes to spare before our 8:00 session. it took about 15 minutes before the waiter even came to our table and the amount of stress dan and i worked up in that time probably took a year off our lives. we bickered about whether we should just get up and go and whether we thought they'd ever get the food out to us on time and whether we were going to get strung up for possibly missing the time-share session. tashi was the voice of reason throughout, asking why any of it mattered.
we did get our food quickly and it was a damn good meal of chicken tikka masala and eggplant bharta and the tandoori chicken for tashi. we ate and burped and tore off to the twilight zone.
we had to sit through an hour of syrupy testimonies and sales pitch and manipulative jargon and then spend another 30 minutes with a dude who showed us the luxury suites. tashi drew surreal pictures in her journal all the while and during the tour gazed in awe at televisions the size of milk-trucks. these suites had a tv in every single room: the living room, each bedroom, the dining room, the kitchen. one of the suites had two of everything in the kitchen: two coffee makers, two blenders, two toasters, two stovestops, two sinks. it was very entertaining sociological study. part of the sales pitch involved telling us how americans don't take enough vacations and this leads to more heart attacks, statistics and all. if you "own" your vacation (ie. own a time-share) you'll be more likely to vacation and therefore live longer. you'll be able to travel the world, make all of your dream destinations real. but our sales guy hadn't ever even heard of nepal!
i must give aaron, our sales guy, credit. he was a good sport, somewhat soft spoken and not pushy at all. some of the sales men and women we observed with others were downright freaky, asking couples very personal questions about their relationships, their lifestyles, their plans for a future. i heard one sales woman ask a couple, "so, was it love at first sight?" the man answered, "not really," while the woman said an immediate, "yes."
i wanted to make aaron feel like he was doing a good job so i played up the interest factor by acting really impressed with the luxury suites and asking him all sorts of questions about where the resorts were located and how they decided on the decor and what the beaches were like and etc. apparently i was pretty convincing because dan said he was getting worried. near the end of our session aaron looked at dan and said about tashi and i, "well, i know they're interested but how about you?"
dan saved the day by telling him that we lived in a concrete box in the himalayas for a year with no heat or tv and that was just fine. aaron commented on how that might not be so fine for tashi and i. i just sat there looking doe eyed and having an internal battle about how i was perpetuating a stereotype. dan gave him a firm, "no thanks," while i acted a little more tentative and mentioned that we just weren't prepared to buy anything at this time. aaron wrote on his slip of paper "pleased," indicating our supposed feelings about it all. he let us go after saying, "i know you'll be back."
a creepy thug sat us down before we were about to make our escape and whispered to us discretely that he'd give us a special rate if we bought a share immediately. this wasn't an offer that they gave to everyone ya know. but we left promptly and unscathed, tashi high on sprite.
we got two free tickets to williamsburg and it's a good thing, because after our day in the colonial town today, my vote is that it's not worth the price of admission.