Victor Jih's 'Amazing Race' Blog: Mastering the Art of 'Shady' Dealings

Photo: Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic

This week on The Amazing Race the 10 remaining teams race from Eastnor Castle, England to Accra, Ghana, over 3100 miles away. Unlike the geographically challenged racers from certain past seasons, this group continues to impress as nearly everyone knows Accra is in Africa.

By the way, it’s not always easy to know where the next destination is. During our season, for example, my sister and I were one of the few teams that had no clue the “Pink City” in India was Jaipur. Special honors to this season’s Nat who not only knows which continent to fly to, but knows Accra is in Ghana.

Every team takes the same Virgin Atlantic flight from Heathrow Airport. This means Jill & Thomas’s lead evaporates. Once in Ghana, the teams pay quick respects at the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park before they race to Makola Market and the ROADBLOCK.

Once there, one team member must master the art of “shady dealings” – selling 15 cedi (about $10) worth of sunglasses. After that’s completed, the teams make their way to the “June 4 Area” where they must either install a television antenna or deliver a custom-made coffin through the backstreets.

Spoiler Alert

In a leg all about sales and customer service, it is entirely appropriate that Brook & Claire – the home television network stars – dominate from beginning to end. Andie & Jenna, the newly reunited biological mother and daughter, however, have a tough day with taxis and, despite Jenna’s amazing salesmanship at the Makola Market, are eliminated.

As a racer, I always hated short, frantic legs like this one. One bad taxi or one mistake is the difference between winning and elimination. I always wanted longer and tougher legs because there was more room for error and more of a chance to overcome bad luck. Andie & Jenna did what they could with a bad taxi. They were eliminated even though they did not really make any mistakes.

The most interesting part of the show for me was the “shady dealings” at Makola Market. In preparing for my season of the race, I would dissect tasks like these to figure out the “answer.” This leads me to the question of the week: WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO CONDUCT “SHADY DEALINGS IN GHANA?

This is what works!
1. There is no substitute for experience: Brook s professional experience and Michael’s childhood experience in the crowded markets of Taiwan allow both of them – despite very different styles – to breeze through the task.

2. Flattery is the key to sales: Brook’s “you look like a rapper/gangster/supermodel” line, Rachel’s “you look like Paris Hilton” lie, and Jenna’s “you look like a movie star” hook all seem to work to great effect. It probably did not hurt that Brook, Rachel, and Jenna were all pretty girls, which brings me to the next lesson.

3. Sex Sells: Chad flirts his way to completion, deliberately targeting the young girls.

4. When all else fails, latch on to a sugar daddy: Some teams just have good luck. Jonathan finds a customer who is willing to give him most of what he needs in one sale.

What is what does not work!
1. Having no plan: Nick struggles in part because he had no plan. As he lamented, “I don’t really have a technique. I don’t think there is a technique out here.”

2. Begging: The racers who try to beg their way through the task really struggle. No one seems to care as Kat repeats “please, please, please,” as Nick screams “big race – really important!” or as Jill claims, “It’ss for a really good cause!” Even though Nick and Jill arrive at Makola Market in first and third place, they leave in ninth and eighth place respectively. A tremendous tumble and a close call.

Watching this episode brought back fond memories for me. Past races have had similar “selling” tasks, so I remember thinking about how to approach these tasks as part of my preparations. That paid off, since my sister and I had a similar task begging for money on the streets of Jaipur. Needless to say, I was 100 percent dead weight during the task. I knew any money we were going to get was going to come from my sister being a pretty girl. All I did was hold the money and try not to get in the way. Even then, the only reason we were able to complete the task quickly was because a passer-by was tired of watching us beg and dance and gave us 10 times the amount of money we needed just to make us stop and go away.

Although I am sad to say good-bye to Andie & Jenna, I eagerly await next week! Until then …

Tell us: What’s your secret to selling sunglasses in Ghana? What did Andie & Jenna do to deserve elimination, or was it just bad luck? Are Brook & Claire the team to beat?

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