I have been accused of cynicism and irony.
The persons who said this were probably hoping I’d offer them a bribe to change their minds. I would be happy to send them a bouquet of roses and a box of chocolates for their opinion – It has opened my eyes to the value of mistrust and suspicion.
Of course there are others who see this philosophy as detrimental – who cry that all men are brothers and all women are sisters. Take a look at a family that is composed of brothers and sisters and count the bruises, scars, and other souvenirs. You don’t get that as an only child. if you want to be savage you have to go away from the cozy hearth and the bosom of the family. Strangers are your only legitimate targets and the world only has 9 billion of them left.
As far as the irony, I do think I may have been a little indiscrete with that. I have laughed where I should have cried and pointed out follies that others wished to be hidden. It has made me enemies, though not the sort of quality fiends that I really want. Mostly just people who snarl at me in passing. Some, of course, adopt the sensible course of putting on stern disapproving looks or blank RBF looks. There is little one can say to them, though there is a great deal that can be written about them. I tend to do this on the doors of lavatory stalls. With pictures.
Cynicism has saved me a great deal of money in the past, and as internet promotions ramp up, I’m looking to it as a real shield. Of course I disbelieve anything that comes over the telephone these days, particularly if it is spoken in a Peter Sellers accent…but I am also binning any number of contacts that urge me to do things on email or Facebook. When you close down the latter the air clears remarkably.
Establishing and ensuring privacy in the modern world is more difficult than it used to be. We are subject to enquiry and observation in nearly every aspect of our lives. People have written in to the BGA Advice Bureau seeking ways to reduce this – we are happy to help. Here is a list of practical measures that the householder can take to increase and maintain their privacy:
- Do not put a number on your house. People who wish to find you based upon your physical location use this to pinpoint you. If you talk your neighbours into adopting the same measure, the entire area can be impossible to decipher.
- Maintain several names. Give one in one location and another at a different venue. Keep a notebook to accurately record who you are at any one place. Do not deviate.
- Avoid using banks to store money. They always take far too great an interest in you once you lodge funds with them, and they can be coerced by the Taxation Department into telling about it. A large safe set into the ground is he best alternative, though you’ll need to pay for the safe in cash and haul it home and imbed it yourself. Place no faith in mattresses as cash receptacles.
- Pay for everything you buy in cash. If the item is too expensive for this method, consider stealing it or going without.
- Use false names on the internet. They should not be spectacular. And never post anything that is so offensive or controversial that the media watchdogs batten upon it.
- Act strictly in accordance with all laws – including traffic laws. This will attract no interest form the police and unless you are selling doughnuts, they will take no notice of you.
- When you go to confession, get the priest to tell you his sins.
- Vacation in-country, preferably in town, and possibly in the house. No travel, no passports or documentation.
- Marry someone who is very secretive, but never ask them why.
- Wear unobtrusive garments bought from goodwill shops. Make no eye contact.
- Become Vice President of the United States.
Which to choose when you want to fleece the rubes – it can be a vital business decision.
The simple pea and shell game ( variation for industrial towns – pea and thimble ) is fast, cheap, and always effective for an operator who can palm effectively. It is the sort of thing that can be easily mounted on a bar table and doesn’t need a portable stand. The betting can be as simple as needed for the intelligence of the crowd, and like many bilks, it is perfectly suited to a con and shill team as well as a single operator.
It does fall down a little in states where they regularly carry sidearms. A pistol can make operation awkward – the wise worker carefully gauges the time to pocket the shells and fade – five minutes more has been a fatal temptation for many a Texas grifter.
The Three Card Monte table seems more suited to the city alley than to the county fair. Urban rubes always fancy they know cards better than their country cousins – and perhaps the taint of sin doesn’t enter into it as much for the towns. You need a folding table that will come up to waist height for a good monte and wise operators know that occasionally you’ll have to abandon a setup – so don’t buy an expensive table.
On the other hand, buy the best cards you can find and monitor them for wear. Replace them at regular intervals or when any form of scuffing starts to show. There is nothing worse than a palm shift being stopped by a card that sticks – people have been detected and knifed because of it. Moral: buy good cards.
Of course neither of these two cons should ever be attempted by someone who is not perfect in the art. There is nothing at all, save a jail term or a slug, to be gained by trying to train on the job. If you wish to enter the pea or monte industry, set aside enough time and money to train yourself properly and practise in every spare moment. After all Heifetz or Paderewski did not play scales to their audiences on the stage of Carnegie Hall.
I am going to try a new one on the South Asian phone scammers.
When the next one rings up – and there will be a next one, no fear – I am going to offer to send them money. I shall be polite and sincere.
It should lead to them ringing off instantly…as it is far from what they have been told to expect from their victims. If they are intrigued and ask how much or how I will send it to them, I shall offer them $ 1000 – and ask to which postal address it should be sent. This, again, should lead to them ringing off in confusion.
But there may be a newbie in the stream room and they might give me their address.
Oh Boy, could I have fun with that…
Are you a child? Do you have friends? Are you aware that one of them will become a famous scientist, one a renowned entertainer, and one a serial killer? That’ll dispose of three, and all the rest will be insurance salesmen, cocktail waitresses, and dry-goods clerks. In your case you’ll be lucky to get out of the neighbourhood ahead of the mob armed with the torches and pitchforks.
Childhood friends are a little like childhood cousins. You get to interact with them and have a sort of a family connection for awhile without being required to save them when they fall down the old well. That’s Lassie’s job. You can watch with interest their future progress and you never have to claim any debit for it – only credit. If they make good, you knew ’em when…if not, you didn’t. And you need not worry about what they think of you because chances are they don’t.
Childhood enemies are similar – but you are not required to be pleased for them when they make good nor grieve for them when they finally end up just like you said they would. Being from the long past, anything they do wrong cannot be sheeted home to you – unlike present work colleagues or acquaintances. There is a bigger circle of blast around people you have interacted with as an adult compared to the ones of childhood.
If you meet an old childhood friend on the road take the Buddha advice. If they claim friendship, run away from them. Remember that when you were young it was no great honour to know you and it hasn’t gotten any better.
If you would like to read about ” boosters “, I can suggest no finer book than ” Babbit ” by Sinclair Lewis. It may seem a little dated to some, but then anti-American propaganda never really gets old if you find the right readership. You may be just the fellow traveller who would appreciate it. Paperback versions are readily available, and Dear Old Sinc does get some good lines in there.
I am reminded of it when I get responses via email to these columns. A fair few of them seem to suggest that I can make a fortune by following their formulae for search engine success and/or marketing. I suspect that few of them really have read what I wrote – that this column is not selling anything – nor buying it either.
It almost seems as though they have turned the old saying back to front and are urging me to stick my business in everyone else’s nose…
Fine, if I was trying to market a feel-good book on how to feel good or a successful program on how to be successful…but I am actually operating a personal pillbox from which I can mow down my enemies. When I run out of enemies I mow down friends. Hey, the machine gun bullets are not fussy…
If you have had the misfortune to be attacked and destroyed by this weblog column consider yourself lucky – when you lie down and bleed you will not attract further fire. It is only the heroic that get another fusillade.
Far worse off is the person who I praise. When you put people on a pedestal they are visible to more batteries and will attract heavier ordnance. The spotlight of fame is a merciless one.
You may never be in this position, Clint, and good luck to you. but if you ever do find yourself listening to that phone call or reading that email…
- Immediately remove yourself from all social media. Cancel your subscription to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any other electronic conduit.
- Clean out all traces of the correspondence that have accumulated. This may involve burning old letters tied with blue ribbons, deleting files, throwing everything into the ” secure trash disposal ” icon, or any other means necessary to clear the table.
- Consider reducing your computer and hard drive to atoms by strapping it onto a North Korean nuclear device and poking Kim in the back with a stick. As alternatives you can do much the same with an oxy-acetylene torch or by wrapping the computer with a sock and putting a matching pair into the dryer. With any luck the offending one will disappear into the sock void and never be seen again
- Contact your local network news agency and confess to something. Make it something juicy – it need not be a true confession to an actual crime or sin, as long as it is going to be chortle-worthy on the 6:00 news. Make yourself a neon-lit, steam-powered, toxic social pariah. That usually stops most pests.
- Send a price list for misty-playing. I usually ask $ 30 an hour and in the cases where I suspect the bill wouldn’t be paid, I demand cash in advance. You’d be surprised how often a business-like approach to this sort of thing sorts out the cheapjacks.
- Move away. Away away. Go interstate or overseas.
- Take holy orders. Tuck yourself into whichever superstition seems most likely to provide protection against unbelievers.
- Come out of the closet. Or go back into the closet. Buy an closet at IKEA and spend the weekend putting it together. Buy an secondhand closet from someone who has come out of it and no longer needs it. If you do, inspect it beforehand for moths or worse.
- Just play Misty.