It Exists! A How-To Guide for Free Lunch in Philly

Unlike Sasquatch, the grassy knoll shooter and a satisfying version of the third Godfather movie, the ever-elusive “free lunch” actually exists. If you’re in downtown Philly, here’s how to get one:

1. Get a job that provides you with copious amounts of business cards.

2. Find a plastic fishbowl, preferably with a sign that urges you to deposit a business card “for your chance to win a free lunch for you and 5 to 10 of your co-workers!”

3. Deposit your business card into said receptacle.

4. Wait.

5. Win. You’ll know you’ve completed this step when you receive an enthusiastic, congratulatory phone call from a financial services representative. Act happy.

6. The financial guy (and it’s always a guy) will make restaurant arrangements and send you a sign-up sheet and menu for your convenience.

7. Your office-mates will debate whether they can escape work for an hour next Tuesday. Mass indecisiveness will cause your sign-up sheet to resemble one of those declassified military documents.

8. On the day of the lunch, the procrastinators will finally sign up and the last of the guilt-ridden (or truly busy) people will drop out, leaving a (surprisingly) manageable number for lunch.

9. At the restaurant, the affable financial guy will take your order sheet and hand it to the waiter. From this point until the food arrives, you’re his.

10. He will talk about the market. He will talk about insurance. He will talk about retirement. You will blink and nod occasionally. Do not speak – this will prevent you from transforming into a “lead.”

11. The uncomfortable silence that accompanies the “Anybody have any questions?” portion of the pitch will end when the food arrives. At this point, the financial guy stealthily acquires your contact information, disingenuously tells you to enjoy your lunch and departs.

12. Eat your lunch – every. last. bite.

13. In a day or two (standard call-back time in financial circles, as well as social), he will attempt to contact you and gauge your interest in his or his organization’s services. Ignore this call at all costs.

14. Ignore all follow-up calls. If you accidentally answer the phone, hang up immediately. If this is not possible, avoid the following subjects: Roth IRAs, debt consolidation, saving for college.

15. Find another fishbowl lunch contest. Repeat.

This guide was based on a recent lunch won at Qdoba , paid for by Ameritrade and furnished by Pietro’s Coal Oven Pizza.

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