Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Life of a Con Man

"I discovered the McDonald's drive-thru could be exploited if you happened to be out with your hungry 6-year old nephew sans wallet and sounded particularly desperate. I discovered that if you called the front desk of a certain five-star hotel and told them that every time you turn on the TV you were assaulted by images of pornography -- and your wife is pregnant and she doesn't want to see this crap, for Chrissakes -- they'll gladly upgrade you to a suite at no extra charge. But what I really learned is that people will believe just about anything you tell them, if you channel the right persona.
I discovered just how susceptible people were to the right persona when, for over a year, I attended my local gym in California without becoming a member. I never knew what I was going to say to the worker at the front desk. This is because when you're conning someone, you must always give the illusion that your mind is on something else. Affable indifference works well. For the gym, I used athletic focus. Never once did I approach the front desk walking. I was always running, always in the zone, always pumped. I'd have my earphones in, music blaring, and say that I'd just taken a run around the block (interval training); I'd have my basketball shoes in hand and feign anxiety as I approached: Did the game start already? I'd shake my head impatiently and say that I had to feed the parking meter, briefly criticizing the city's parking regulations, and every time, the worker would sympathize, hand me a towel and tell me to have a good workout."
Excerpted from "How I became a con artist" on Salon.com. Read the rest of the article here.

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