By spiritual-scam victim and subsequent brunt of Craccum office jokes Brian Gu
The other day, I got viciously cornered by the power of positivity. Never had such generous praise and willing affirmation been hauled my way. It all happened so quickly, I was unable to register what had transpired; only knowing by the time it was over, I found myself short five precious dollars and holding Hiding In Unnatural Happiness by Devamrita Swami in my hand.
You know the people I’m talking about: the spiritual guides who stalk you down Queen Street posing as a student (one old enough for the last thing they learnt to be how to send a text message), a fanny pack buckled around their waist tighter than the Craccum discretionary budget. Yes, I chanced bumping into someone who looked more spiritually content than Paul Henry after a racist joke, and being the cheap trash that I am, a less-than five-minute pitch was enough for me to give in to his loosely-woven charitable backstory and reward him like he made it onto the Ellen show.
The process is textbook – they open with something that makes you feel good about yourself, managing to pick the exact insecurity that grapples with your soul. They give you no time to register their clear propagandist intentions; before you know it, their spiritual self-help guide is in your hands, and your five-dollar bill is in theirs. Again, in my defence, and there really is no defending me here, I was under pressure by an arriving bus, and plus in the midst of a rough week, it felt really positive to receive (what I thought was) an unadulterated compliment.
Don’t mistake it – this is a common scam that hits many people, and here at the Craccum office, I’m surprised to hear it’s been experienced by some of us before. Before you start asking, no, we don’t have a phone up here at the office, so yes, we’re safe from those call-centre scam ideas you just thought up.
Claudiasuggests that I should arm you guys with the knowledge of how to assertively deny these tricksters, despite me not having a great go of it myself. Plus, I realise if I can save someone else’s five-dollars (or at least give you a laugh at me losing mine), it’s a small victory. Don’t be fooled – these scammers are everywhere and will strike again, so if you choose not to pick up these quick quips, one day when you let your guard down, you risk getting caught out by Devamrita Swami and his gang.
Twelve sentences to help cut your next “spiritual encounter” short:
1. “My spiritual path is clear and my conscience is resolved” No need to oversell this one like you’re the Dalai Lama or something, just politely nod and walk away.
2. Chuck an Endgame spoiler out there. They’ll be the ones running from you.
3. “I contribute to Craccum.”: Might not save your five-dollars but doesn’t it feel good to get it out?
4. “J.K Rowling has put me off reading sorry.”: Trust me, you’d rather be reading The Cursed Child than whatever it is they give you.
5. “Can I have some money for the bus?”: I highly rate this one. Really cap off the victory by giving them your bus pamphlet to read when you take their five dollars instead.
6. “I’m gonna turn this real-life event into a quick listicle to fill 800 words.” Shame on you. There’s no spiritual saving for that one.
7. “No.” Because I felt bad for not having a sensible one here. Avoid “no thanks” and “no, that’s alright” because it’s really not alright.
8. “It’s alright, I’m selling these too. Where are the best places to go, do you know?” Take it that one step further and actively map out how to avoid them.
9. Threaten to call the police because you’ve received intelligible information that they are involved in the kidnapping of Madeleine McCann.
Me: This article could do with a Madeleine McCann joke.
10. Buy last week’s Craccum from us instead. Because if you’re going to spend your five dollars unnecessarily, you may as well do so on something worth reading.
11. Threaten to resurrect the columns section when you actively realise you don’t have enough source content to cover 800 words. I extend my apologies to the writer of the matching column.
12. Assume the identity of Devamrita Swami. Start screaming things out like you’re playing i-spy. That really sells a spiritual experience.
So always prepare yourself with positive ways to say no so you don’t get caught out when the situation comes. But in the case that you’re actually looking for a spiritual change, feel free to come up to the Craccum office – you can have my copy for $4. Actually before that, did I say your hair looks nice today?