Sharing Time with Vince

“Good day! Good day!” he said as he bounced up to our rental car, in his bright orange Caribbean print shirt, Bermuda shorts, and sandals.

“Oh, oh,” I said to my wife. “Looks like a time share pitch…” But before she could respond, he was at my window, smiling and waving. I had to smile. I’ve always admire the energy of a true salesman.

“Hello, sir!’” he said, a huge smile on his too sun-burned face. He continued, in his clipped Dutch accent. “My name is Vince and I work for the Westin Hotel over on the beach, ya?” (‘Ya’ is the Dutch equivalent of the much maligned Canadian ‘Eh’ or our grating American ‘Okay’, all of which are way overused.) “What are your names and what brings you down here to Oyster Bay?” Right to the point, those Dutch!

Now I’ve always liked the give and take of these sales pitches, especially as I’ve gotten older and now more readily challenge them – in a good sort of way, of course. No need to get annoyed – young guys like this are just trying to make a living like everyone else on the beautiful island of St. Maarten.

“Well, Vince,” I said, “We are Joe and Joanne Paradis and we own a time share right here at Oyster Bay. We’re staying at another place on the island this week, but come Saturday, we’ll be staying here. Right now, we’re going over to that little shop to buy some French bread. And what brings you here?”

“Exciting times!” he said. “As I say, we (his partner was in the little booth they had set up just before you get to our resort, which might explain why he wasn’t as sun-burned as Vince) work for the Westin Hotel and are promoting our new timeshares, ya? Would you like to scratch a scratch ticket and win some prizes? It is free. There is no obligation for you, of course.”

“Can I win a trip to America?” I asked. The partners looked at each other for a second and then laughed. “That is good, Joe! No, no, but you can win some very nice prizes. Please scratch, each of you!”

So we did, with an American nickel donated by Vince. We scratched my ticket first. I won a free drink at the Westin. “That is good, ya?” said Vince. My wife scratched hers next. Vince waited in anticipation.

“I see two ‘7’s, Vince. Is that good?”

“Oh, two ‘7’s!” he said. ‘Ya, that is very good! That is a prize!”

Joanne continued to scratch the card. “No wait, Vince… she has three ‘7’s. She must have won the lottery, huh?”

He stopped in his tracks, a wave of disbelief crossing his face. “Three ‘7’s!!!” He almost choked on his words and grabbed my arm in his excitement. “Do you know what that means, Joe? That is the best prize! There are only six of those in the scratch tickets every day that we get thousands of scratch tickets from the sales management, ya? He began jumping up and down. It was a little weird…

“I will tell you the prizes, ya? There are three prizes when you get three ‘7’s. The first is $1,000 in cash. That is donated by the vendors on the island. Cash is very good, ya?” We said ya back. “The second prize is 5 days and 4 nights at a resort in Cancun. That is very good too. And the third is a video camera. It is not a cheap one, Joe. But a very good camera of the highest quality. That is very good news, is it not?”

We agreed…not as excitedly as Vince, because we’ve been down this road before. Of course, so had he… But, at least he finally let go of my arm.

“It is very good for us too!” he said. “We get $200 when the three ‘7’s come up on a ticket!” The sales partners looked at each other and nodded eagerly.

“Now, of course, there is a catch, ya? You must come over to the hotel and listen to the timeshare presentation and see one of the units. They are very nice. But if you don’t asked any questions, you can be out in a very short time, ya? So follow me, Joe and Joanne, and I will take you there!”

And off we went – after we bought our French bread.

We met with a lovely woman from French Guiana, who gave us the timeshare spiel, understood that we probably would not buy since we had a timeshare right next door, and said glowingly that we were the most handsome couple she had ever met. After the tour and our regretfully turning down the offer to purchase a timeshare – a surprise to none of us – she went as cold as ice and shuffled us down to the sales office…where we scratched off the final block of our three ‘7’s scratch ticket and won Prize #2 – the 5 days and 4 nights in Cancun.

A few days later, we began our timeshare week at Oyster Bay. We ran into Vince every once in a while, out there at his little shack, chasing down cars and hawking his scratch tickets to everyone passing by.

Half way into our week, I met a couple at the beautiful infinity pool. The guy was telling me how they had been cornered by a guy at the entrance to Oyster Bay who wanted them to look at a timeshare at the Westin.

“Did you go?” I asked.

“Sure,” he said. “We also won a free 5-day 4-night trip on one of his scratch tickets.”

“Cancun?” I asked.

“Why, yes,” he responded.

“I’ll bet you had three ‘7’s too, right?”

“We sure did! The guy told us there are only six of them in the scratch tickets they distribute every day.”

To which I could only respond, “You’re a lucky guy, ya?” And we both laughed.

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