Blood-Chilling Terror!

a correspondence between Gregg Pearlman and Myrna Hasty


Myrna is a friend from our days at GTE. The main subject matter rhymes with "Jam Tray," but we'll call it "Plobby." Also mentioned from time to time are something that rhymes with "Fairy Fay," but which we'll call "Hilda Matilda," or "HM," and something that rhymes with "Gerbil Strife," but which we'll call "Guoshlunk."

Subject: Blood-Chilling Terror!
Date: Wed, 10 Jul 1996 16:39:28 +0000
From: Gregg Pearlman <gregg@EEEEEEgp.com>
To: "Hasty, Myrna" <myrna@herwork.com>

A few days ago the three of us went to the pool on a hot day. There we spoke with Blip [possibly not his real name -- GP], a neighbor. Nice guy, single dad. He asked what we did for a living, and we told him. He asked if we might be interested in making a little more money.

Kim, already slightly leery, said, "Sure, as long as we don't have to do sales, and if it doesn't have to do with Plobby or anything." I thought, "Uh-oh, we're going to become part of an international drug cartel or something."

Blip said, "Well, I don't mean to be vague, but it's a good opportunity, and maybe we should set aside a time for me to come by, if that's okay." Being neighborly -- and, evidently, the mental equal of that glungy stuff that forms on the top of spaghetti sauce left in the fridge overnight -- I said, "Sure." We agreed to meet Monday at nine.

Kim, having just gotten back from a funeral, was in no mood to party. Adam was still up. Nevertheless, Blip came by at nine, as promised.

He started asking questions about our lifestyle: "Are you hoping for a time when Kim can stay home and be a full-time mom?" "What do you feel is missing from your lives?" "Where would you like to be five years from now?"

"Oh, how I long for the days when I only worried that this might get us involved in an international drug cartel," I thought.

"Let's sit at the kitchen table, shall we?" Blip said. He proceeded to draw us a bunch of graphs and pictures. See, we'd become distributors, or "franchi-zores" of various products -- and us selling those products wouldn't be an issue, because the products would be bought, period. "In fact," he said, "if you want to go door to door, then I don't want you." Kim and I exchanged the occasional husband-and-wife-type glance that generally signified, "Do you think there's any way we could put an end to this and hide the body?"

He drew his little org chart, showing us where the money would come from, and just how much. Conclusions had managed to dawn on us already, and he merely confirmed our suspicions by informing us, after about 40 minutes, that our training would come from Plobby Corporation.

Aaaaaaiiiiiiiiyyyyyyyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Kim, trying to be less polite than I was, told him we probably wouldn't be interested. I, trying to be less polite than that, but still more polite than I should have been, told him that the second he said "Plobby," I shut off, especially in view of the fact that Kim had told him specifically that she wasn't interested in becoming involved in Plobby.

Now, I don't know how much you know about Plobby, but it's probably more than we knew. All (or "Alls") Kim and I knew was, steer clear.

Kim and I gently but firmly pushed Blip out the door, saying that it was past our bedtime. Kim had spent considerable time dealing with Adam, who, because he's the great, intuitive kid he is, did his best to distract our attention from this assault. Blip seemed to like it better when Kim was out of the room, because that way he could talk fast and draw stuff and throw numbers around. (At one point he talked about "18 percent, which is $558." Who the hell knows what $558 is 18 percent of? I mean, my math is pretty good, and I still have to take a couple of moments to do the division in my head. Clearly Blip had a well-prepared spiel, complete with memorized numbers and percentages.) At the point when we tried to explain that we didn't really have much in the way of business acumen, he said, "I guarantee you, I'm about as sharp as a bowlin' ball."

I sat there feeling dumb much of the time. Blip, I think, really believed he flew in under the radar. But our radar goes pretty high, really, and we picked up on most of what he said. One thing he said was that he'd be glad to give us some literature so we could read more about this opportunity -- and to "arm" ourselves with information.

I decided I'd love to do just that. But thus far I haven't broken the seal on Blip's packet. Instead, I went into the Infoseek search engine and told it to search on "Plobby." This produced 425 hits. I only really needed one website, though, and the documents thereon told me all I needed to know, and more.

Even given that I knew el zippo about Plobby, I still pictured Plobby people as pod people, and as being involved in something I didn't want to be involved in. In fact, a lot of what Blip said -- largely because of its "programmed" quality -- reminded me of people who come to your house and try to sell you religion.

Well, the stuff from the web made it sound even worse: Can you say "cult"? It started to sound a lot like Hilda Matilda and Guoshlunk. Women are to wear dresses; it's best for them not to work; they shouldn't be making the decisions in a marriage, let alone a business partnership with their husbands. Don't mention Plobby till you're well into the conversation. The bottom line is not how much inferior merchandise you can sell; it's how many people you can recruit, and how many people they can recruit, etc. The real money is in the rallies, revivals, and sales of cassettes, books, and videos.

Since Blip left -- he's supposed to return Friday to collect his unopened information packet -- Kim has become angrier and angrier. She feels violated. Blip used some interestingly aggressive, guilt-inducing tactics (but at least we recognize them for what they are), waved aside our suspicions, and just generally acted demanding.

We will not become involved in Plobby. I realize I should be able to preface that sentence with "Needless to say," but that's not how it is for a lot of people. Blip told us, in so many words, that if we were willing to invest five to ten hours a week, not to mention an initial $200 -- he did not mention that this $200 is a monthly fee -- we could take in, say, an extra $2,000 per month to start -- maybe $5,000 or $6,000 -- even more! He did not say anything about the expenses, namely the rallies and revivals (because if you don't go to those, it shows you're not really interested), the tapes and videos (if you don't listen to and watch them -- all the time -- it shows you're not really committed), and books (and if you don't read from them every day, you won't get ahead). I'm pretty sure this doesn't even include the outlay on Plobby products that you're expected to buy, which are more expensive and of lower quality than most competing products. In many cases, the expenses of being an Plobby member outweigh the actual income.

Plobby clearly uses the strategy of breaking the spirits of its members, discouraging them from independent thought -- e.g., "You must never question the methods of your 'upline.'" -- until, by the time you realize you want out, you're no longer independent of thought enough to do so.

A federal court ruled that Plobby is not a pyramid -- but that's not the issue; the issue is that this came up in federal court, period.

So anyway, we're trying to figure out the best way to tell Blip that we're not interested and that he shouldn't keep trying to change our minds. I'll attempt to just say, "Blip, we're not interested in being involved. It's just not us." If he persists, we'll probably go the following routes, in order of increasing impoliteness:

We'll let you know how it goes.

I suspect you've been onto Plobby for a long time, since we're more naive than you. Still many, many intelligent people get sucked into the vortex, and in case you and John get tapped in the heads by a wrecking ball and suddenly find Plobby attractive, it might be worth reading the stuff at the following URL, if for no reason other than entertainment:

http://www.teleport.com/~schwartz/index.shtml

Bottom line: Be afraid. Be very afraid. Consider suicide by skinny-dipping in a volcano as an alternative. Consider working for Barla as an alternative. [You might not know what that means, or why it would be awful. Stay tuned. -- GP]

Just thought I'd share.


Subject: Blood-Chilling Terror!
Date: Thu, 11 Jul 1996 14:28:41 -0700
From: myrna@herwork.com (Myrna Hasty)
To: Gregg Pearlman <gregg@EEEEEEgp.com>

I am hip to the Plobby scene (cult is right), and every other similar brainwashing scheme to suck in lonely, naive, losers. Sorry, but that's how I feel about all these #@%!# scams.

I may have told you about my Hilda Matilda (HM) experience. What a trip! I reluctantly went to a Hilda Matilda "party" at a former GTE employee's house. She was a regular gal, just got roped into having a party because she went to one (and so it goes). Anyway, I ordered a couple of items (not cheap stuff, but decent product). The HM lady, of course, had access to our home phone numbers as we all stupidly put it on the order form as requested. Welllll, in the next few days, the HM lady started calling me every night to recruit me, not only for a party booking, but she told me she sees someone "special" at every party to become a HM representative, and that someone special was little old "me!"

Like you guys, I was polite at first, but then it turned into genuine harassment! In a weak moment, I agreed to attend a HM breakfast at the Red Lion on a Saturday morning, where I spotted many "pink" cars in the parking lot... should have been a tipoff, right?

There were hundreds of "Stepford" women there and many like me who looked like they would rather be at the dentist. Before we were served our breakfast, the "leader" opened the ceremonies by leading us in some sort of prayer, then I swear to God, about 30 women took the stage and led us in a song, "I've got that Hilda Matilda feelin' down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart. I've got that Hilda Matilda feelin's down in my heart, all the live-long day." I got scared at this point. I stuck around for the breakfast and the speeches from many of the same 30 women who told us how HM had changed their lives. It reminded me of "Leap of Faith" with Steve Martin. They told of how the were so far down, they could go any further, and that HM saved them and immediately their luck changed and they were rolling in dough. OK, Mom didn't raise no dummy. There was a good reason why I took a table by an exit, and off I sneaked.

HM lady kept calling me about becoming a rep. Get this, the starter kit cost $500. When I told her I couldn't afford anything close to this (and it was the truth as I was going thru a divorce and still supporting my son), she offered that HM would "loan" me the money to get started! I think it was then that I confessed to her that I couldn't even sell Girl Scout Cookies in my own neighborhood, and threatened to kill myself or her, if she did not leave me alone. I hung up on her and finally it stopped. This went on for at least a month.

NEW STORY

About 3 years ago a musician acquaintance of John's got into something like Guoshlunk (same type stuff). Well, he soon badgered John until he bought some stuff, then he seized upon the good fortune (for him) of my departure from GTE. "This would be a perfect stay-at-home job for you!" He bugged me for about 3 weeks, until I finally snapped. I told him never to call me again and that I didn't even really like him, and capped it off with the Girl Scout Cookie story. He moved to Pueblo, CO (thankfully) shortly thereafter. I want to think I had something to do with his relocation.

Boy, this Plobby guy sounds scary. I'd avoid him just on the basis that he deceived you both. Do you remember Dr. Slim Speeners [not quite his real name -- GP] from GTE? I worked on a few proposals with him. Nice guy, Mercedes, diamond ring, kids at UC Berkeley -- the whole schtick. Well during one of these proposals, he starts with the subtle comments much like your neighbor did about how to have my own Mercedes, etc. He told me that he and his wife flew to Hong Kong every year, and wrote it off their taxes because it was Plobby related, and so on. When I told him I really wasn't interested, he had the courtesy to drop it. I had another person from GTE call me several times at the office to "invite" me to a Plobby get together (I had to pull it out of him, though -- they are very secretive). His name was Snill Twerdlette [also perhaps not his real name -- GP], 30ish engineer, again from a proposal team.

So those are my horror stories. I copied the Plobby web page, and bookmarked it so I can read it later. SCARY STUFF.

EPILOGUE, OF SORTS

When Friday after the Plobby assault arrived, Kim and I were both very tense. We feared that Blip wouldn't take "no" for an answer. We feared that he wouldn't even take a push off our balcony as an answer. So we -- I, especially -- started counting the seconds until seven o'clock, when Blip was supposed to swing by. At 6:30, Kim still wasn't home; I figured she was just too scared and hoped I'd take care of it. In any case, she had expressed the desire to be just on our way out the door when Blip showed up.

But she finally arrived at 6:40, full of trepidation. She didn't want to wait for Blip. She just wanted to dump his packet in front of his door with a note saying, "No thanks." I said, "Would you like me to bring this stuff back to Blip?" (Only I said the guy's actual name, not Blip.)

"Oh, would you?" Kim said.

So I did. I knocked on the door. Blip answered it, wearing only a pair of shorts. Clearly he'd just gotten out of the shower; obviously he wanted to be clean and cute and perky for our "meeting." I said, "Blip, I just wanted to return your stuff. We're really not interested, but thanks for coming by. We really appreciate it." (I may not have been entirely honest there.)

Blip was clearly stunned. He reacted as if slapped. He said, "Um, uh, is it a matter of time?" I guess that meant, "Were you bothered by the idea of investing five to ten hours a week?"

I just said, "No, it's just that we're really not interested. It's just not us."

He said, "Um, okay, see you around." And that was it.

I really think he was blown away by the idea that we would be so stupid as to turn down such a fabulous opportunity to become pod people.


Copyright ©1996 by Gregg Pearlman

Last updated 9/11/96
Gregg Pearlman, gregg@EEEEEEgp.com

Back to It's Not the Giants