Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Pyramid schemes

The horse's head arrived in a large, plastic-lined cardboard box labelled Corsican Confections. I opened the box, and discovered to my relief that it had been refridgerated for the journey and so was still fresh, if a little cold. I patted it once, feeling a little sentimental. I'd bought the horse only a few months ago for my youngest daughter to learn to ride on, and now her lessons would be interrupted until the insurance came through and paid for a new one. However, business was business, and even family couldn't be allowed to get in the way of that. I picked it up out of the box, slightly surprised at just how heavy it was, and tucked it into my second son's bed.

In a way I'd started off the whole chain of events myself by leaving the kids with Shark Timmy for the evening so that I could pop down to the dog track to do a little doping and make a little cash. The kids are fond of Timmy, who they call 'Uncle Spacker' for reasons I've not bothered to go into, so I figured they'd be safe enough. Only while I was watching Gracie's Favour and I can't believe it's a whippet stagger round Wimbledon dog track Timmy took it on himself to tell the kids all about pyramid schemes and how they make money.

The first I found out about this is when I overheard the neighbours laughing because the kids had been round trying to sell them a pyramid. I laughed a little myself and made a note of their names; I'd send the boys round a little bit later to put the mockers on their mockery. And I thought nothing of it, just youthful exuberance and hijinks.

Three days later I noticed that there was a twenty-five foot high pyramid in the back garden of the house three doors to the left. I was surprised that they kids had made a sale, all the more so because it took up pretty much all of the garden.

It turned out that the kids had hit on a real way to make money from their pyramid scheme: they were installing the pyramid overnight and then charging to dismantle it and take it away again. Not a bad little racket, if a touch unsophisticated in its approach. And it probably would have worked rather well if a rainstorm a couple of mornings ago hadn't inconveniently revealed that they'd fashioned the pyramid 'stones' out of cardboard and pretty much melted their pyramid into a soggy mess.

The neighbours complained, and I found it convenient to pay them to keep quiet. But business is business, even when it's family business, so I passed the debt onto the kids. So far they've not paid up, so this horse's head is a little reminder that a debt must be serviced. I have an idea that the kids are putting the thumbscrews on Uncle Spacker, and I'm looking forward to seeing how that works out.

No comments: