Written by The Scribbler
It didn’t matter that your arms and cargo pants were spattered with remnants of “Sonoma Sunset” deck stain. It didn’t matter that your sweaty ponytail was stuck to the back of your sweaty neck, either. All that mattered was that the business-suited blonde in Lowe’s thought you were sugar-sharp and had to be looking for something more in life. Why else would you be here, trying to decide which paintbrush should replace the one the neighbor’s kid practiced his budding barber skills on?
You remember the solicitation well. After a spot of small talk, the woman introduced both herself and her motive: “I’m Pamela Shaw, a National Sales Director with Mary Kay Cosmetics.” She said some B-grade Olsteen stuff about women who had giants inside just screaming to get out and added, “Would you like to learn how we make our money in Mary Kay? Once you hear the marketing plan, you’ll probably want to do this for yourself and get 50% off your cosmetic orders for life! There’s lunch and a free eye shadow in it for you if you do!”
Normally this would all seem more disturbing than a bear hug from a plague victim, but you figure that free face paint from someone you barely know can’t be anything less than win-win. So here you are, a day later, in Panera; sipping at black bean soup and trying to eat your baguette in a way that doesn’t give your fellow diners the impression that you’re a seasoned performer in the adult film industry.
Shaw slides a pen and an official-looking document towards you. “For my records,” she explains, “I’ll need you to fill this out so I can get credit for conducting this practice interview.” She runs a finger over the page, indicating which sections to fill out and sign.
You raise an eyebrow. “Excuse me,” you say, scanning the document. “This says “Consultant Agreement.” I don’t recall agreeing to anything except attending this little Pitch n’ Lunch.”
“Oh, nothing happens to this unless we attach money to it!” Shaw says with a grin.
You’re wary, but isn’t Mary Kay’s motto “God First, Family Second, Career Third?” You’d like to think that a high-ranker in a “God First” company would be a paragon of moral and ethical character, right? She needs credit for doing the work, is all; just sign the darn thing so she’ll stop staring at you like a long-lost lover. And why won’t the diner in the next booth answer her cell phone? Of all the ringtones in the world to choose from, she’s got to pick “Wind Beneath My Wings.” Madre de Dios.
Reluctantly, you scribble your name at the bottom of the document. You could’ve sworn that – out of the corner of your eye – you saw Shaw hand it off to a clawed hand jutting from a flame-wreathed hole in the linoleum, but hey, let’s chalk it up to indigestion. You don’t need the drama.
Shaw launches into her presentation, which includes how to make an extra 20k per year working part-time and how driving free is the smartest thing a mother can do for her family. You have to admit, her perky patter is convincing, but being a mom yourself, you’d disagree that driving a car for free is the smartest thing one could do for her family. Nay, the smartest thing one can do is to not listen to the voices that encourage one to mail oneself to Bangkok, especially after one’s son decides to dump sand in the toilet so “Ponyo will have a bigger house.” Oh, the goldfish’ll get a bigger house, all right; tell Nemo we said hi. Flush.
Shaw ends her speech with a frighteningly heartfelt-sounding, “So what, if anything would keep you from giving Mary Kay a try?” Her gaze does not waver. Across the aisle, a cellphone rings. Did you ever know that you’re my he-rooooo? For crying out loud, dude; stop calling!
Your gut gives you a few pokes. “Something isn’t right here, champ.”
“What’s not right? And why do you sound like Gilbert Gottfried?”
“Never mind that. This chump said this was a “practice” interview, but I think her whole shuck and jive is anything but practice! Now if you’re smart, you’ll tell her you’re going to think about things, get up, and make a clean break for the back door. And for the record, don’t you ever get that black bean soup again or I promise you that I will speak loud and long during your pastor’s next sermon, at a time which shall remain knowable only to me.”
“I don’t know about all this,” you say, standing up. “I’m going to need to think about a few things first.”
“Why don’t we do this?” Shaw replies, edging herself between you and the back door. “Why don’t you go ahead and put your check or VISA number with this. Sleep on it. If you don’t think anything else about Mary Kay when you leave here today, it’s not for you; if however you keep thinking about Mary Kay, you need to get started.”
Suddenly, you’re seeing more red flags than a North Korea Mass Gymnastics performance. Your memory shoots back to the beginning of the interview where Shaw handed you a Consultant Agreement and assured you that “Nothing happens unless we attach money to this!” Well, guess what? Shaw just asked you to put your check/VISA number with “this.” Don’t you get it? This “God First” Mary Kay National Sales Director is playing you harder than a Vegas slot machine!
Shaw’s voice lowers, yet still plays the tease. “I’m sure you also know that your friends and family would have all kinds of very well-meaning advice. All I can tell you is I’m so grateful I didn’t take all of that advice, that I followed my heart. ”
You can’t believe what you’re hearing. She’s grateful that she didn’t take the well-meaning advice of her friends and family? People who cared about her and were trying to protect her from a life of tricking women like me into signing Mary Kay Consultant Agreements, assuring them they’re safe because no money is changing hands, only to suggest that they hand over a check or VISA number at the close of the interview? Do I really want to join a company where I have to behave like this woman in order to sit at the top?
You scoop the Agreement from the table and render it twain before shoving it into your back pocket. You’ve yet to see a better largemouth bass impression to date; NSD Shaw will have to find another unsuspecting woman to bamboozle into the business. The sad part is that she undoubtedly will.
Of course, now that you know how she operates, you don’t have to be the next one.
Author’s note: Lest anyone accuse me of putting words in NSD Shaw’s mouth, please note that everything spoken by her portrayal in this piece was taken directly from her recruiting document, “Recruiting for Results” which was found in the training section of her website.