Archive for September 7th, 2008

The wrong adventure, Pt. 1: “not” Tombstone

Posted on September 7, 2008. Filed under: Culture, Games, Philosophy, Travel |

I didn’t intend to go to Tombstone that day. I can’t believe how gullible I was (well I can, ’cause I tend to be). My buddy and I left early to tour a “new kind of resort complex” we’d seen advertised in one of those flyers that arrives with newspaper ads in the mail. This resort offered “old west ranch-style living in the heart of the Arizona back country” (whatever that is). Why on earth would I be interested in such a thing to start with?  But, here’s the clincher, they were offering a “prize”, a big-screen television, for those presenting the coupon and taking the tour, and the coupon had 6 “scratch-off” spots like a lottery ticket. In order to qualify to win the TV, the coupon said, my coupon needed to have a series of four spots with “$100” imprinted.

Dubious, I began to scratch. $100. $100. $50. $100. $100. $25. Hmmm. Well someone’s got to win that television! We duly set off to “tour” the “new kind of resort complex”, about a 2 1/2 hour drive from home. We had the day free, and were up for an adventure, so why not? The coupon had driving directions from Tucson, and a detailed map. Even so, we got lost twice, but finally found the resort after backtracking a bit.

The place was way down an ol’ dusty trail. It turned out that it was a camping timeshare resort! I’d never heard of one of these. I’d seen lots of timeshare schemes, in fact some friends own a week in two of them in resort areas they frequent. I’ve never been up for buying into one myself, but certainly not one where I’d have to bring my own tent or RV (which I don’t have one of) and then be called to dinner in the “Ranch House” by a clanging triangle. This might be great for some, but not my idea of a holiday. Still, the…”gentleman” at the front desk asked if we wanted to experience the tour sales pitch. I said that I’d probably not use such a timeshare arrangement, but I did have this coupon…

“Oh, did you think you had won that big screen TV?’

“Well, in fact I did! See, there, four “$100″‘s just like it says!”

“No, no, no, no, you’ve got that all wrong! You see, it says you need a series of four $100’s…[‘yup, there, they are, count ’em: one, two three, four’]…and you don’t have a series there at all. A series would consist of four in a row, one right after the other, you see.”

Darned if he didn’t slap his knee and chortle, just like an old westerner sittin’ in a saloon! (More about saloons in a bit.) Since you, the reader, are probably smarter about things like this than I am, you probably saw through this right away. That grinning…”gentleman” had got dozens of people driving over from Tucson and Phoenix thinking they were going to carry home a brand new large screen TV. While I was muttering to myself about deceptive advertising, he said “Aw, don’t feel too bad, y’ain’t the only one!” (OK, he didn’t actually say “ain’t”, but by now, I was less than enchanted with the good-ol’-cowboy routine, so it sounded like that to me.) He then offered us an opportunity to still get a TV to take home. He showed us a box containing a little 13-inch battery-operated black-and-white telly, which he said would be ours if we just agreed to take the tour opportunity to own one week of dust per year.

Even at this point, there was a moment I was tempted. I’d come all this way—perhaps I should at least see what the resort dust pit had to offer. And I could put that little TV in the…kitchen?…bathroom? Then good sense returned. I’d already spent the morning on the road, chasing this elusive large entertainment device (we had, though, discussed the “adventure” aspects, the trip wasn’t driven by pure greed, honest!), then listening to this fellow making fun of our gullibility (great sales method—not!) and I was stubbornly determined to have the “adventure” part of the adventure. It could be argued that what had already transpired was an adventure, but I generally don’t include in the “adventure category of life” things which make me mad!

So, we slunk off back to the car (sans any kind of television) and studied the map for a bit. Turns out we were only about 20 minutes from Tombstone, Arizona (“The town too tough to die”) and neither of us had been there. OK! Off to Tombstone, then! I was glad we’d started off early.

{Tomorrow: The Ghosts of Tombstone. Stay tuned!}

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