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You probably have had your supper interrupted by phone canvassers offering to clean your ducts. We usually reply that we don’t have ducts: we have swans in need of servicing.

Last week my wife, Ella, got an unbelievable telephone call that she had to pass on to me. Holly, a fun loving young women had an offer that we couldn’t refuse.“ You have been chosen to have an intimate candle lit dinner for two at a very expensive downtown hotel absolutely free.

What is the catch I asked? All you have to do is answer a few questions - about your age, annual income along with a desire for exotic travel. With such an offer how could we lose?

The invitation along with the menu offerings of either a rib eye steak or capon with all the fixings. All we had to do was send our RSVP in the self addressed envelope and the evening was ours.

We arrived promptly at 6.30 for our night on the town. We were introduced to Janine our hostess for the evening. First a trip down the hall to confirm a few questions about our income, names of our children and what we did for a living. How did we pay our bills? Master Card or Visa?

Janine escorted us to the dining room and seated us at a table for two. We were told that we could not sit with one of my wife’s jogging buddies. Strange, they did not want the twelve invited couples to meet and chat about the gala.

We had not been invited out to view the rooms or sample the fine cuisine. We were there to sign up for time sharing vacations. Janine warned us that she would return at 7.45 to pick us up. The food was great but the idea of being pitched a sales promotion after the meal detracted from our enjoyment.

Fate blew it’s ill wind across our table. In walked six of our good friends out for dinner to celebrate Dr Ben’s birthday What to do ? Janine was going to come and get us in a few minutes, My dear wife had the answer; she had to go to the bathroom. Are you coming back I asked? She gave me a killing look that said bye bye. We both left the dinning room into the waiting arms of Janine. She called over her manager who told us that we had to attend the demonstration or cough up the $50.00 tab for dinner.

Janine escorted us to a conference room to hear the presentation. Each of the couples was seated with their hosts now turned salespersons. In walked our friendly master of ceremonies who told a few funnies and rambled on for a half hour. You could travel the world for only $350. a week U.S. and stay in sumptuous hotels with all of the amenities or you could choose to cruise in luxury at half price.

After watching the videos and listening to the sales pitch I asked; what is the price? Janine had to defer to the sales manager to crunch the numbers. You can have a Gold Card Life Time Membership for an affordable retail cost of only $7,000 U. S. You had to sign up for twenty years at a cost of $355.per annum. You could even pass on your “gift” to your children/ grandchildren.

We thanked Janine for her “hospitality” and asked if we could now leave? Before escaping we had to spend a few seconds with the marketing manager to fill out a survey. I ticked off my answers and made our way to the lobby. We were joined by two other couples who nervously laughed at our escape from an evening out on the town.

Sure we jumped at the chance at a free dinner for two at an expensive dinning room. We small time hustlers got hustled. When will we ever learn that there are no free rides. Sadly everything has a price. To-night the cost was an interview and a ninety minute presentation.

In retrospect the dinner was not worth the price of admission. I promise that the next time somebody offers me something for nothing I will say thanks but no thanks.

“Most men look at things as they are and wonder Why. I dream of things that never were and ask Why Not?”

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com