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Thursday, November 30, 2006

A promise is a promise

OK, I was in college or just out? Wait, I can't remember. I should look on my credit report because that tells the tale RIGHT THERE. My cousin, Angela, used to babysit or nanny (can't remember which) for this other lady Angela's children. This woman was a Mary Kay associate. She would call my Ang to come babysit in the evenings when she had shows to do. And yes, ladies, they call them shows. Angela, being a normal girl was like transfixed by all the make up and perfume and fun bottles and shit in Angela's inventory. (OK, hereinafter my cousin Angela will be A1 and the MK Angela will be A2.) So once you sign the contract to be a MK associate, you barely get your feet in the door before they are majorly pressuring you to do two things - sign someone up and invest big money in having an inventory. Their reasoning is this about the inventory - how fun is it to order stuff from someone and then have to wait. You increase your chances of making a sale if you can literally put the lotion/foundation/eye shadow right into their hot little hand immediately. OK, that actually makes sense, I suppose.

Let me back track a bit. I first met A1's director (that is like someone who leads a team in MK) at an Eat N Park when I lived in the Burgh. Oh man, I miss me some ENP. I loved their smiley cookies and they had bad ass grilled cheese sandwiches. One would not think that there could be perfection in a grilled cheese, but I beg to differ. I used to worship at its cheesy goodness. But I digress.

I walk in and there sitting is A1 and her director, Peggy. OK, Peggy was like over the top. She was quite pretty in a very made up way, but it was her personality. She was just like waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out there. Every single sentence that came out of her laquered lips ended in an exclamation point. All of them. And every single word was accompanied by a really exagerated facial expression or body language type deal. At first, I was like, whoa. So not my thing and I am sure she picked up on that. So then, what did she do? She appealed to my affection for my cousin. By signing the contract right then and there and giving my $100 for my kit thing (whose name escapes me right now) I would be helping my cousin who had just signed her contract just before this (are you starting to see the pyramid tactics yet?). The thing that I remember was her use of the words "Is there any reason why you can not _____?" Fill in the blank with whatever thing or idea she is trying to get you to agree to. Well, what on earth does a 22 year old girl say to that? I was a people pleaser - still am to some degree. (SHUT IT.) I thought to myself "Well, of course not, I want to help A1." And so I signed.

SHOWCASE. The kit was called a showcase. Nope, I'm not kidding. It was a pink suitcase type deal with all your samples in it. Just thinking about that makes me start to tic.

OK, fast forward to my first MK meeting. They encourage (that is the word they used so that it sounds all nicey nice, but seriously if you are not dressed correctly, you will be judged and whatever poor soul brought you in will be dressed DOWN, no pun intended) to dress professionally. If you are not a director (they all wear the same suits) or a Red Jacket (who is someone who is a team leader and therefore, wear a red jacket) you should wear a skirt, blouse, some sort of suit, whatever. Hose NOT optional. Heels NOT optional. You need to look the part. That means face done. Hair DONE. Nails, no bitten cuticles, no ragged ends, no unpolished natural look. Never in my life have I worn that many products at any given time. The one good thing I have going on my face is I have well shaped, without much maintenance, eyebrows. I like them. I don't fuck with them other than to make sure I don't have crazy strays and that they are brushed accordingly. These bitches made me think I was ruining the entire effect of the other 18 pounds of cosmetics on my face by NOT WEARING EYEBROW PENCIL. What the fuck was I thinking? You best believe I extracted an eyebrow pencil from my EXTENSIVE inventory (more on that later) and started fixing all that ailed me lest I run into Mary Kay Ash on the damn streets of the Burgh.

Oh and yeah, this was all while I was still up North. This was not near Texas, the land of large hair. I was like, what, 7 states away? In a state that prides itself on football, blue collar workers, steel mills, hoagies, and the mullet. That is where this MK stranglehold had taken place. Y'all do NOT know the power of a bunch of women who smell money and weakness on you.

So, ok, my first meeting. I go in to Peggy's room. Each director holds her own meetings in a meeting room at some random hotel somewhere. Being that we were in fairly close quarters and the level of estrogen in that building had reached epic proportions, the shit you heard was unreal. Peggy would come blazing in (oh, our name was the Peggy's Perfect 10s) and would encourage us to all get to our feet and sing the MK song. Now I am not sure if this is some patented song that is endorsed by their company. All I know is we sang it. I SANG IT. Loud and proud, bitches. I don't recall every word but as previously noted in my last post, it was about having that MK feeling down in your heart (patting the heart before resuming clapping to the rhythm of the song), down in your heart....Girls, I could bullshit you and act like I was like way too cool for this shit, but I partook and I partook of it whole friggin hog, mmmmkay? These women sucked me and A1 right the fuck in. Everything that they preached was like woman power. I should do this because I deserve it. I should go to these meetings because where else is a mom or housewife's accolades shouted from the rooftops like that? It is important to take the time to take care of one's self. Their agenda sounds amazing, no? I mean, in a world where one woman will not friggin hesitate to stab you in the back in the corporate world or the mommy world or even in your own friendships, how could being in a place where women boost each other up NOT be alluring? That was the shiny surface.

Let's dive into the underbelly now.

I was all happy and glowy (or else I was just shiny from the 3 layers of foundation) for the first couple of weeks. The idea ladies is to bring more girls IN. The more girls you personally bring in, the more money your make, the more the person who brought you in makes all the up the chain. Nope, not pyramid AT ALL. They want you to bring in your sisters, sisters in law, mothers, next door neighbors, etc. They literally give you a script to use complete with the catch phrase "Is there any reason why you can't...." These chicks that I thought were all content to live the MK life of God first, family second, career third were like up my ass to bring in the peeps. (I was very mistrustful of the whole God first thing because, at that time, I was about as anti-church as one could get without summoning up Satan, but I still got sucked in.) So bring in the peeps I did. Your initial goal is to bring in one person. So I brought in my boyfriend's sister who, I gotta say, was in dire need of a make over, bless her heart. Her name was Billie Jo and she lived with her husband who used to be the husband of her best friend. Oh, she also lived with her current daughter and now step daughter who was named, oh yeah, you guessed it, Billie Jo. The best friend/first wife thought so much of BJ (also how she stole the hubs, but I digress) that she named her kid that. Oh man, good times. But hey, who am I to judge? I just dragged her down there and gave her the opportunity to make herself into an absolute made up wonder who makes buckets of cash. In doing that, I elevated myself up a level.

The next goal, bring in 2 more chicks for a total of 3 peeps. That entitles you to a red jacket and to sit up at the head table with the other red jackets and lead the meeting with Peggy. A little prior to this, I was busy organizing my meetings, selling my ass off (I seriously thought I was going to pay my way thru grad school with this.) and wearing my MK pin loud and proud on every outfit I put on. Right before I starting doing any shows, I made an investment. We'll call it an investment instead of what it really was - STUPIDITY IN BUYING FORM. I purchased over $1600 of inventory in one quarter. That entitled me to a beautiful vegetable service dish and platter that is white and pink and trimmed in gold overlay. It sounds bizarre but I still have that platter and bowl to this day and it's gorgeous. My one remaining link to that part of my life.

Ladies, did you notice the amount of money I spent on inventory? By doing this, I think I sent Peggy into an orgasm and A2 who was to become my new director into a damn coma. This showed them that I took my new life seriously, that I had the faith in myself to purchase such a load, that I was clearly the stupidest girl to ever graduate with honors and that I would do anything...ANYTHING....to have these women's approval.

A few months into my red jacket status and inventory overload, something started happening. I cried. A lot. I would want to stay in bed and never come out. I hated going to work. I avoided the meetings. I screened my phone calls constantly. I do not know what brought on this bout of depression but it sat on me for a good few months. I felt like I had failed everyone, A1, A2, Peggy, myself, etc. I felt like the biggest loser known to man. I knew that this company was sucking my will to live away. It was never enough for them. Keep selling. Keep reaching for the next tier. Never settle for where you are. I could not take the PRESSURE. It was intense on a level that I could never adequately describe on here. I finally remembered that I had an out. A little known MK fact is that you can sell back to the company all of your inventory if you pack and ship it back and they will return 90% of what you paid for it. However, in order to do that, you have to get that form from your director, who at this point, was A2. (Due to mine and other people's efforts, she was able to splinter off from Peggy's Perfect 10s and do her own director thing.) I took the pussy way out and wrote her a letter requesting the form. She sent the form but with no accompanying note saying she understood or was sorry to see me leave or whatever. Nothing. This woman who just about licked my ass earlier on was now shutting me out. Right then, I knew I had made the right decision and a weight of the use of 17 products on my face and worshipping all things MK was lifted off me almost instantaneously.

I never regretted my decision and A1 and I have never discussed my decision which I am sure affected her at those meetings as well being that she brought in me, the heathen who dared to leave the fold. I know that she no longer does it being that she sold her inventory at a garage sale. LOLOLOLOL.

I am not sure what sort of person it takes to deal with that company but I know for sure it was not me. It is very cultish and not the shiny, happy place it appears from the outside. I don't regret going into that because it taught me how to answer the question "Is there any reason why you can't.....?"

Uh yeah there is - I don't wanna.

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Elizabeth at 11:38 AM



at 1:28 PM Blogger Cheeky said...

OMG! I was sucked in by that same line "is there any reason why you can't blah blah blah" I could have told your story without the redjacket of course.....It IS a cult!

at 1:31 PM Blogger Dixie said...

That sounds really scary! I have received invites to go to some parties, but never gone. I was accosted by a lady at the Ford dealership, while waiting for the oil in my truck to be chnged, she asked if I wanted to get a makeover and perhaps sell the stuff. I laughed and said, "damn am I that ugly?"

at 1:34 PM Blogger Kami said...

Good lawd!

The MK ladies here are stalkers. Makes me nuts.

I should write about PC some time. After I'm inactive. ;)

at 2:25 PM Blogger Annejelynn said...

fabulous story...

at 2:36 PM Blogger patti_cake said...

I hate crap like that. HATE IT

at 1:23 AM Blogger Zen Master said...

Wow, they do sound like a cult!

at 11:52 AM Blogger Shell said...

I still wanna see a pic with your shiny face and big hair.

I'm so glad I was too lazy to ever do one of those things.

at 12:34 PM Blogger Carrie said...

I would never have pegged you for an MK lady. :) When we were still young, my mom was in the MK cult - wore a horrendous pink suit and all. I remember the shitton of inventory she had locked upstairs, the retarded shows and suitcase. They told her, 'No matter how broke a woman is, she will always find a way to buy makeup because every woman wants to look pretty'.

She got out of it pretty quick but swore by their products for years. Kept trying to convince sis and I, who didn't like any of their products to use them - even going as far as getting her sales rep to give sis a 'show'. :P

We finally converted mom to the ease and quality of products at the mall like Lancome, thank goodness. :)

I wanna see pictures. That would be a damn riot. :)

at 8:50 AM Blogger The Kept Woman said...

Girl, it happens to the best of us.

Amway has that same close-ended question that corners potential victims.

I think it's fabulous that you get 90% back though...

Post a picture of the veggie tray, I'm dying to see it! Do you claim (nowadays) that it's for Breast Cancer Awareness?


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