Lauren Conrad and Scam City

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I sent my resume out to as many companies as possible. I took a brief freak out break to talk to my friend La Shawn. She told me that if Shameco wanted to accept my resignation early they would have to pay me for two weeks anyway. I had heard of this law before, but I wondered how valid it would be if they knew I moved to LA without their permission. I called Corporate HR and they said they were sending me my paycheck along with one for an extra two weeks.

I came across one company that did paid petition circulating, they were having an orientation the next day; I felt relieved.  I had done paid petition circulating many times before; it was easy you just stood on a street corner and asked people to sign a form to get a political initiative on the ballot. People are rude to you, but you can make some good money. People had pretty much been rude to me all my life. Plus you got to learn about all the different issues, both liberal and conservative. I liked to pretend to be a real expert on whatever issue I was hawking. I liked to see if I could get people to believe I was really  passionate about  the issues. People in Denver got a little frustrated with circulators as there were always so many issues on the Colorado ballot. It was my understanding that California was the same way.  I got a few phone calls back about jobs and I set up a couple of interviews.

I tried to take my mind off my troubles. I attempted to do laundry. I went down to the laundry  room several times only to find someone’s cloths just sitting there in the machine.  After several hours I took them out and put my cloths in. When I came back to put them in the drier they had taken my wet cloths out of the machine mid wash and thrown them on the floor.

The next day I attended the orientation. A man named Charles trained us.  He had just gotten there from Florida. I couldn’t help but notice that Charles didn’t seem to know what he was talking about. He wasn’t sure how much we would get paid per signature, he thought we would get paid in about a week, but that remained to be confirmed . He handed us all several petitions one was for  parental notification on abortion, another was to end Gerrymandering a third was to reduce property taxes.  He read a brief description of each. I questioned him about who was sponsoring the petitions and he didn’t know. He didn’t’ t seem to know or understand anything about politics.  We arranged to meet in one week and we all went our separate ways.

I also called a woman in who had  a petition to control  growth in Santa Monica .  This meant that I had to do all my circulating there as the signers had to be registered to vote in Santa Monica proper. It paid $3.00 a signature so I couldn’t say no.  I headed out to Santa Monica The  next morning . It took three hours and three busses from San Pedro to get there. I met three different Jesus freaks on the way all of whom felt compelled to share their beliefs with me. Once I was there  I situated myself on the Promenade. I discovered that everyone there was a tourist. I moved over to a more residential area . Very few of the people I encountered were actually Santa Monica residents those who were told me that they didn’t sign petitions as that was the job of the legislature. (The legislature in California took three years to pass a budget and  drags it’s feet on every single proposal that makes it out of committee.) IF they would listen to what I had to say they would riddle me with questions  and then not sign the petition. I left Santa Monica that day with twenty signatures on the growth petition and about fifty or so signatures on all my other issues combined . Between traveling and circulating the day took twelve hours. I went back the next day and got similar results.

I went to the library and a man took the petition out of my hands and questioned me about every thing from the sponsors to the entire history of the issue.  The key to successful petition circulating is of course to get as many valid signatures as you can in the shortest amount of time. Standing around discussing the issues is the kiss of death. The people of Santa Monica are very educated . They are also very wealthy.  They like to think of themselves as very liberal, but they have no real compassion for working people. I felt like telling them that if they really were so liberal  you’d think they would understand that if I didn’t get signatures I wouldn’t get paid and if I didn’t get paid I wouldn’t have a house to live in or food to eat.  Some of them told me I should be ashamed of my self for taking money for circulating petitions. I wanted to ask them what they did for a living that was so magnanimous. How many of them produced crappie TV or porn  or both?

I was standing in front of Whole Foods when a familiar looking woman came walking out of the store. I asked her to sign, but she just glared at me. A photographer  jumped out from an SUV and took her picture; she was Lauren Conrad. Now there’s a woman with a respectable job.

For the next few days I opted to skip Santa Monica and go to Redondo Beach. I really did love being near the ocean. For all my troubles there was something very calming about the sea air. I went on several job interviews, but I never heard back from anyone. I got my final check from Shameco and they had failed to pay me  the two extra weeks that they said they would.

On Sunday, I went to turn in my petitions  at the restaurant we had all agreed to meet in.  Charles was there at the arranged time but told us he had to leave and go to the main office to get more petitions. He let us sit there for over an hour before coming back with the petitions and  gathering the ones we had.  He told us we would be paid in one week . One week later we met in the same restaurant. He kept calling to say he would be there in 15 minutes . We sat there for three hours and he never showed up the restaurant closed down. I began to cry.

“ Don’t cry, pray” one of the other circulators said to me.

“Are you fucking being serious right now! !I ‘ve had it up to here with this city, it’s nothing but scams and bullshit”, I screamed.

I was in no mood to be preached at. Where was I Alabama?  I caught the last bus back to San Pedro with my last dollar. Charles eventualy came by my apartment with a check for $182.00  I couldn’t believe how much time it had taken to make so little money .  A week later he would make me wait for another two hours in the same restaurant and a week after that he would make me wait an hour again . Eventually, he told me that I could just go to the main office in Los Angeles to turn in my work and be paid, by that time there was only a month left of circulating for the year.

The Company in Santa Monica miraculously paid me without hassle and I was able to pay rent for the month of April.

I  found an ad on Craigslist for a a drug trial. It said they were looking for people who suffered  from insomnia. As I had barely slept  since I moved there I thought I might make a good candidate.  It said it paid $3000. I called and was  told that the advertised insomnia study was filled for  now,  but they had and anxiety study that a lot of the same people qualified for. The study paid $50.00 a week for 4 months and I would be testing out a new drug.

She asked me a series of questions to determine if I had general anxiety.

On a scale of one to ten, with ten being the highest,  how  nervous do you feel on an average day?

“Um, a six.”

“Are you sure its just a six, did I hear you correctly?”

“ I mean a seven”.

And so it went. I had no choice, but to go along with it.

I went to the office in Beverly Hills for my appointment. When I got off the bus  the first thing I saw was a woman walking  a dog who was wearing high heals and a dress. The woman was a beauty. It occurred to me that if she weren’t a beauty she would be in a mental institution instead of walking a pure bread poodle down Rodeo Drive.

The psychiatrist running the study told me that I would be taking an Ambian that was divided into ten small doses over the course of a day. He was hoping to prove it had the same effect as Prozac.

On my way home on the bus  I chatted with several people including a man who worked a Dolce and Gabana in Beverly Hills. He told me that he’d waited on some music producer for over an hour. He said she tried on ten suits and didn’t buy a single one. He said she told him she’d call him and she wouldn’t. He asked me how long I lived there and I told him one month.

“Now let me guess you hate it here, right?”

“You said it”.

“I’m from Alabama. I’ve lived here a year and a half. He said. “I hated it for the first year. Things are a little better now. “

“I’m having problems finding a job” , I said.

“It takes about six months to get a job, about a year before you’ll have any friends.” He said.

Six months ? I would be dead by then. I went home and went on Craigslist yet again. I answered and ad for a telemarketer job in Long Beach. I was interviewed and hired by a man there who would only say his name was Tony . He said that I would be getting leads for sales of toner for copiers. I would simply call businesses and collect the make and model of the copier.

People always assume the worst about telemarketing.  Because the calls are annoying people have a tendency to assume that anything you sell over the phone is a scam. I have worked several telemarketing jobs and I can tell you that most of the companies  I worked for were not trying to scam people any more then any other type of advertising or marketing. I sold newspapers and they were actually sold at a better price than you would get if you called to order them. I have sold coupon books that I know worked because I used them myself They were the exact same price as if you bought them at the store; they were nether a great bargain or a rip off.

The telemarketing office in Los Angeles was the first actual telemarketing “scam” I’d ever been involved in.  We would call businesses and ask for the make and the model of the copier. Our boss would call the companies back the next day and say he was with the copier company and was selling toner for the copier at a reduced price if they ordered that day. It was a scam because almost all copiers are contracted and come with free toner as part of the agreement.  We relied on naïve secretaries  who didn’t know toner was free to give us the company credit card.

Our boss was a right wing conservative cokehead. He listed to a combination of Led Zeppelin and conservative talk radio. He was all for the death penalty and harsher punishment for criminals.  He fired me after two weeks.

I was on my way home on the bus when  I noticed a short, creepy man who wouldn’t stop staring at me. He asked my name and asked me if I was  Swedish. He asked me if I was married and I said yes.  We got to talking and I told him I had just been fired. He asked me If I had ever considered doing audience work. I told him I didn’t know what that was. He told me it was where you sat in the audience of shows like Judge Judy and Judge Joe Brown and pretended to be interested in the cases. They pad in cash for this.  He gave me the number of a woman called Adrianne as well as his own phone number.

I didn’t realize it, but he had handed me an invitation to the worst unbirthday party I was ever to attend.

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