My Novels

Thursday, January 21, 2021

A Cautionary Tale

Many, many moons ago, in the early 1970s, I was recently married and hoping for a bright future. My husband had just received a trade school diesel mechanic certification, and I was employed in a clerical office position, but we were seeking better opportunities. We were open to adventure, travel and...well, like a lot of young people, looking for opportunities.

One day I read an ad in a Birmingham newspaper seeking those with trade skills for overseas job opportunities. It sounded promising, though when I told my husband, we were a bit hesitant since we both liked our local community. He had traveled while in the army for two years, but I had never been anywhere outside Alabama. This ad intrigued me, so I called the number, and set up an appointment in Birmingham.

When we arrived at the location, we were both impressed -- a well-known highrise in Birmingham. Marveling at the prestigious building, riding the elevator to the tenth floor, we were greeted on our entry to a plush office waiting room. Our names were taken, my husband’s trade school certification accepted, and told by a classy-looking receptionist, “You sound like just what we’re looking for!”

We waited anxiously with others who resembled us; we were all excited, especially by the ad that stated we could make a high income. Being ushered into the private office, the expansive view of Birmingham out the wide windows, a sharp-dressed man behind a massive oak desk, we were in awe of the weighty official CEO title. We were not naive exactly, just eager for opportunity, I think.

What ensued was an hour of extravagant promises and praise for my husband’s qualifications, and assurance we had come to the right place for opportunity. We could travel overseas with his job and make enough in several years to set us up for life -- or at least buy a home back in our local community. It was dizzying, intoxicating and we fell for it -- hook, line and sinker.

You see, there was just one catch: we had to pay a fee for the office to write a resume and shop it around to these overseas companies. We were told they only solicited via legitimate outfits like the one we were now employing. By then, there was a niggling little doubt, a tiny voice in the back of my mind, warning me this was...unusual. Nevertheless, we signed up and handed over the meager savings we had at that time.

By now, you’ve obviously guessed this was a scam. We were worried on the way home, but tried to stay optimistic, since we had money invested. As the resume fakery rolled into our mailbox, but no job offers followed, we were crushed. 

Here’s the thing: we were too humiliated to tell anyone what had happened. Some family knew we had visited the place, but we never told them how we’d been scammed. It’s embarrassing and hard to admit you’ve fallen for a scam. But we learned a good lesson: be careful and never, ever fall for the hard sell lie. 

Now imagine you have fallen for a scam that got you to Washington D.C. and you find yourself in the midst of an insurrection that was incited by the President and state representatives. Do you storm the capital and end up in prison? Or do you stop in the midst of the insanity and realize you’ve fallen for a scam, a lie? Not so easy. 

Many of those who fell for the hard sell lie will do prison time for the mayhem and murder that resulted, and that is justified. However, if you ever find yourself questioning conspiracy theories, wild stories (especially online) that gives you a little niggling feeling that something seems not quite right: Heed that cautionary warning.

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