You can only lie or trick me once and I’ll never trust you again. I’ll never believe anything you say again, either. After being lied to so many times as a child (a parental and 1950’s thing supposedly for my protection) I grew up extremely independent and very much a loner. I became very wise and savvy to door-to-door salesmen, “too good to be true” ads on TV or in print media, and anything advertised as free, easy to assemble, buy one get one free, you can return it with no questions asked and the trickiest one just pay shipping and handling!!! The worst of the worst, of course, are those telemarketers on the phone telling you your Windows Computer is infected or any other such scam. Bloody scum bags!! Whenever I answer the door “No thanks, I’m not interested”, comes spurting out of my mouth, unless, of course, it’s something legit. When the telephone rings and those 289 or 000-00 numbers appear on Call Display, I usually hang up before the caller even gets to deliver his spiel or there’s a foreign accent on the other end. Don’t waste my time, buddy!!
Having said all of the above, guess who knocks at our door several weeks back? Upon opening the door there stands a nice looking young lad (maybe early college age?) holding a small piece of paper and wearing a badge around his neck. I had noticed him and his buddy across the street earlier and knew for certain they were selling something as a lot of doors were being shut in their faces. Not wanting to be completely rude to such a young man, I gave him the chance to introduce himself. He was from NCA in St. Catharines and only wanted to ask me a couple of questions about the water quality in our area. He advised he didn’t want my last name – only first name and phone number – and if I answered his questions my name would be entered into a draw for $500.00 worth of groceries as a “thank-you”. Okay, so I’m thinking “what’s the harm, right??” Just to be cautious and diligent, I asked him a couple of questions to satisfy myself that he was, in fact, legit. What was “NCA“? Where are they based? I was advised NCA was a company concerned about water quality and environmental issues in our area and they had an office in St. Catharines and were also thinking of branching out to this area. Made sense, right?? So, I agreed. The questions asked – Do you drink tap water? What was my opinion about the quality of water in this area? Has there been any problems with the water in this area? That was about it. He thanked me, took my first name and phone number for the draw and handed me a card from NCA showing its logo and my number for the draw, should it be picked. When Nat returned from his golf game, I told him, and we soon forgot about the whole matter. After all, what was there to think about.
Not so fast, people!! Suddenly I get a call from a very nice woman at NCA advising that they had had an early bird draw and my name came up!! What were the odds, I thought. She also queried if I would be home within the next hour so the delivery man could bring by my gift. (Suddenly and for a few seconds, I’m thinking how big is this gift????) She told me I may have won a gift basket or vouchers, or something along those lines. (Again, why a truck?). She further advised that if I tried this thing (my memory escapes me, as she quickly rattled off the name of the gizmo) and liked it that I was to put up a testimonial and tell my friends. However, if I didn’t like it, would I keep quiet!!!!! This is where the first bell should have gone off in my head but alas it was only a little “ting” as I told myself what was the harm, and how big could this thing be??” Nat had now returned from his golf game and I told him about my good news. Suddenly, the two of us began to really think about this – I mean really think about it!!!!
As we were talking I began a Google search of NCA (St. Catharines). After sifting through hundreds of other NCA results, I soon came across the appropriate web site displaying the same logo on the card I received. Looked a little empty, in my opinion, and didn’t really give any details about exactly what it was that they did. The web site did, however, at least look legit. I had also spotted a news article regarding a man from Niagara Falls that had gone alone with this whole scenario but was cheated out of his free gift. It took some phone calls by the newspaper and this man to finally get the matter resolved and the gift turned out to be a bunch of coupons. While we were doing this, the phone rang again and the gentleman asked if we would be home within the next 15 minutes, that someone named “Shane” would be dropping by with our gift. Nat and I soon realized it was one of those devious selling tactics where you have to test or try out this piece of equipment, listen to a long selling spiel and get very annoyed before you even received your free gift – which, by now, I’m thinking will be crap!!
After humming and hawing for a minute or two, along with debating whether to just call this guy back and stop Shane in his tracks, we decided to leave things alone and we’ll actually see what the hell is going on. Sure enough, within a minute or two, I spotted Shane walking in front of the office window towards the front door, looking somewhat disheveled wearing a plaid dirty shirt, carrying some sort of metal box that looked like the size of a VCR machine, along with a satchel of accessories that bulged out the top. No gift in hand – hmmmmmm! We answered the door and in a polite tone, we told Shane that we were sorry we wasted his time and that we were not interested in anything he wanted us to try out. He advised that this was an air purifying machine, and that he has 16 satisfied customers in the area. We also informed him we were on the NCA web site but saw nothing about their products, who they were and exactly what it was that this company did. “Well, the web site is still getting set up”, he answered. Somehow I didn’t believe him, as there was nothing on the site to inform viewers that “the site was still in development”. We further informed him that we only answered a few questions about the water quality. “Oh, would you like to see the water guy, then?” he asked. “NO” we replied, “we’re not interested in any of this stuff, that we had moved in a few years ago, we have a new furnace, new air conditioner and even a generator”. We were completely satisfied, and again, we apologized. We were surprised as he very politely headed back to his truck in the drive.
“Whewwww”, I remarked to Nat, as I closed the door. Suddenly it was ME that got “taken in” and I couldn’t believe it. How could I not see that coming. After answering a couple of questions, suddenly I won an early bird door prize, was asked to “be quiet” if I didn’t like this thing, and a disheveled sales person comes to our door carrying a gizmo that wasn’t even in a box!!!!! Nat and I both told ourselves that if NCA was truly on the “up-and-up” then why not brag about their products on their web site, tell us up front what was going on and not send young lads out on a suspicious mission?? Couldn’t blame the kid – he was just looking for some money!! So we dodged a bullet there and I’ve now built an even thicker piece of armour against anyone that offers me something free or wants me to be quiet. MOI – be quiet???? That’s the understatement of the year and besides – when I don’t like something I tell the world, baby!!!!!
As for the rest of the week – Friday we drove into St. Catharines to Costco for our usual supply of meat and paper products. Before hand, however, we decided to stop in at the Mandarin for lunch. That was a really nice treat. The Mandarin is getting a little expensive now, so we don’t frequent this restaurant as often as we use to. It’s too bad, too, because the foods I select at the buffet are all good for diabetic patients – the garlic broccoli, the chow mein and the roasted chicken pieces. I will admit to cheating a little this time, as I took a walk to the dessert area and couldn’t help but pick up some of those fabulous chocolate-covered marshmallows along with my little dish of chocolate ice cream. What the hell, I figured, as this was going to be our only meal of the day. We usually don’t have a supper whenever we visit the Mandarin as we tend to over-indulge.
As we were driving home along Sodom Road, suddenly a convoy of Canadian Army tanks were headed towards us on the left. There must have been at least 10 or more. Nat suddenly remembered that they were doing drills in the Niagara Peninsula area. I must admit they were a bit daunting to have coming towards you. Big burly tanks that are twice (and maybe 3 times) the size as any van or small vehicle, with Army men donned in combat gear and fatigues peaking their heads out of the turrets above. I couldn’t help but wonder where they had been practising in our little area. Along the sands of Crystal Beach, perhaps, where sun bathers had gathered together to storm the shores and take over Ridgeway-Fort Erie area!!! I digress. I’m sure this is all serious stuff as we have had troops in Afghanistan and other areas. Hopefully, however, our guys will never be needed, but we still wish each and every member of the Canadian Armed Forces all the best in whatever mission they’re sent on.