Written by Blessed (A Mary Kay Husband)
Leaning against my car, waiting for my gas tank to fill, I took a moment to appreciate the October sky. It was the “golden hour” when the sun is low and the colors are wonderfully saturated. October skies can be so beautiful, deep blue accented and contrasted by billowing white puffy clouds. No haze. Even though the road next to me was crammed with rush hour traffic and people were hastily moving in and out of the convenience store, for me things slowed down a bit, if just for a minute or two.
She pulled up to the pump in front of me. The lively conversation between her and the young boy sitting in the passenger’s side continued uninterrupted as she stepped out of the pickup truck to begin filling her tank with gas. “Well Mom, I’m never gonna be Poo Bear again. I WANNA BE DASH! Mom, it doesn’t cost too much.” He reminded me so much of my two sons, now in their teens, and how our kids get old so quickly. The debate continued as the boy followed his mother into the store while her gas was pumping.
Her vehicle caught my eye. It was a Ford Ranger pick-up truck, exactly like the one I drove in the early 90s, the exact same model, same model year. Time hadn’t been good to this one, there was some significant rust around the rear wheel wells. Not even the good car wash it seemed to beg for would do very much to improve its appearance. A shudder of squinty concern shot through me as I noticed the threads beginning to peak through the worn right rear tire. And then it hit me, just as the gas pump nozzle filling my tank snapped off, there it was, the sticker in the rear window of the Ranger: “Mary Kay Cosmetics.”
My chest seemed to inflate a bit. I knew I had a mission. Smiling to myself I noted there were no phone booths nearby for me to change into my super-hero outfit. I headed into the store, needed a gallon of milk anyway. As I cleared the front door I saw the young woman and her son were second in a line of eight people at the cash register. He was clinging to her pant leg continuing to make a pitch for a “Dash” Halloween costume. Her arms were filled with a box of cat food, a gallon of 2% milk and a 12 pack of Miller Lite. By the time I got what I needed and stepped to the end of the check-out line, she was at the cash register. She politely instructed the cashier to add a box of Marlboro 100s and $20 worth of lottery tickets to her purchase.
I wondered, was the expensive purchase of lottery tickets a metaphor reflecting the role Mary Kay Cosmetics was playing in her life? Was she a victim of the often used sales pitches I’d seen successfully thrust upon so may women? Might her “investment” purchase of MK inventory (if she’d made one) have better been spent on some new tires? What kind of credit card debt was she wrestling with? Was her knowledge base of Mary Kay Cosmetics limited to information provided at some “event” filled with a bunch of crying, applauding, “Christ filled,” IBCs? Did she know about the resources available on the internet providing a true, unfiltered picture of this MLM? Did she know about PinkTruth.com? I moved out of line and took a few steps toward her.
She noticed my approach over her shoulder as did everyone else in line. I froze. My awkwardness was palpable as I stood next to the beef jerky and starred at her. What was I going to say to this woman? Would I be immediately construed by her as one of the evil, negative anti-MK people she perhaps was told to avoid? Would I be misconstrued as an older man attempting to deliver an awkward pick-up line to an attractive woman young enough to be my daughter? I returned to the end of the line. She and her son left the store.
I’ve been disappointed with myself ever since. I’ve been thinking about my level of discomfort and how it stopped me. I’ve been thinking about how she may have benefited from a friendly person sharing concern about the possibility she and her family could suffer injury through her association with MK as my family and I did. I’ve been thinking about how I’ve been so comfortable sharing information about my MK experience under the anonymous cloak provided by the internet and how I found doing the same thing in person with a stranger uncomfortable.
And maybe the toughest pill for me to swallow in this little vignette is the realization that had someone possessed the gumption to approach me or my wife ten or so years ago, perhaps our family would have been spared the MK nightmare. There’s nothing I can do about the pain and hardship this curse brought to our marriage and Bank of America isn’t willing (I’m sure) to write the whole thing off as just a learning experience. In so many ways fretting about our MK fiasco is akin to trying to put toothpaste back in the tube, except for one very important area:
I can warn others.
So then, today, with this note, I will add closure to this issue about which I’ve been beating myself up for the better part of a week. I’ll do so with a promise to myself. I will not freeze the next time.