Last week while getting ready for the upcoming Fisherboy Resort Art in the Park event, held annually up here in Sayward valley, I was contacted by the Cambridge Who's Who team...I had received an email asking if I would like more information on this network building group and like an idiot I replied, ok, and expected to get more info online. Instead they had my phone number and called me one morning. There was high pressure from the very friendly, polite, and flattering young woman who interviewed me. She said they had to establish that I had the right credentials for inclusion in this book, which is run by the son of Donald Trump, all of which is true as far as it goes. My credentials hit the mark apparently and I was offered a very "special" part of the program...I KNEW the hit was coming, little red flags were flying all over the place in my mind, but I continued the conversation, seemingly unable to find my grownup self and put a stop to this snowballing event. Money, of course, they wanted money. A lot of it. When I responded that I couldn't pay that the price came down, a slightly less extravagant offer of benefits with the membership. After twice more telling her I couldn't pay she came up with a much more affordable deal and I found myself accepting!! I would be in the Cambridge Who's Who, with contacts available among all those thousands of other privileged beings...WHAT?? As soon as I hung up I knew I had been taken. This Who's Who is legitimate and I might even, indeed, benefit from membership, but the manner in which I had been shoved into it was irksome to say the least...embarrassing at best. I looked all this up online and found many others who felt bamboozled into membership. It is not a scam really, but it is high pressure sales that is morally questionable in my opinion. Vanity memberships are not where I want to be any more than I want to be part of a vanity gallery or any vanity publication. Anyone with the money to plunk down can participate. Merit is the merest part of the equation.
The story ends well, fortunately. I called my credit card customer service and they recommended that I first talk to the Cambridge people and get them to remove my membership and the fee they took from my credit card, which had already been approved for payment. I had been given a phone number and extension to reconnect with the woman who "interviewed" me but I got voicemail. I hemmed and hawed and then decided to call the number again and go to their customer service extension. I got a different young woman who was taken back by my request for cancellation and my money back. She wanted to know the reason and offered me a yet cheaper form of membership. I said I wanted no membership and just to cancel me and return my credit card money. She persisted, almost demanding to know my reasons for canceling but by now I was Karen Martin Sampson ADULT-IN-CHARGE and very politely and quietly persisted with my request for cancellation and a refund without offering any explanation other than I had changed my mind and didn't want this service. She went away for a few minutes, got a supervisor and she very suddenly agreed to cancel me and refund my money to my credit card. Now I wait until my next statement, in about three weeks, to see if the refund is in place.
It left a very bad taste in my mouth and more self lecturing about yet "another fine mess" (ala Laurel & Hardy), I had gotten myself in and why do I allow others to manipulate me, and when will I finally grow up, etc., etc. My plans for the Art in the Park kind of got put to the side after this and I was all thumbs getting set up yesterday. I attempted a new method of hanging the art by having Bob help me put U shaped strips along the top of my hinged doors and having hooks and very strong lines hanging down to hold the art work. It seemed to take forever to get the lines the right length and then the work seemed to be swinging a bit, plus some of the pieces hung with the top sticking outward so they hung at a wierd angle and were hard to look at. So much for my brilliant idea. I went back to simply hammering in picture hangers for the last few I wanted to put up... meanwhile two hours had gone by! I had wanted to avoid continually putting more hanger holes in the doors but at this point I hardly care. I don't do outdoor shows often enough for it to matter. If I did I would invest in some professional outdoor tent wall hangers, the gridded ones that won't blow over in the wind and that can hold any number of paintings securely. I have one more outdoor event, in about three weeks, a weekend down in Comox at the marina for the Originals Only show. I think I need to rehearse putting all this together beforehand. At least I made $20 yesterday:-)