AN insurance broker has to be a good actor and manipulator to be successful. The world then becomes his oyster. I bought some life insurance from a friend of a friend's relative about a year ago. Not that I needed it, but I was held to ransom by the slick operator. I told him I did not need any life insurance now that my children were old enough to look after themselves, and that I had a few bucks tucked away for my funeral when the inevitable happened to me. He said: 'You still need some protection; I worry about you.' After hours of fruitless persuasion, he changed tactics. First he sighed, then he let me in on a secret. He was a contender for an award for the salesman of the year, and he needed to sell one more policy to make it. Without that award, his future would be bleak. His voice started to crack and his eyes became watery. I was moved to tears. I was looking at a fine young man trying to win an award, and establish himself as a useful member of society. If I deprived him of that opportunity, he might lose his job, and start robbing people in the street. I had no choice but let him rob me of a year's premium. That was a year ago. Last week, I got a call from him, reminding me that it was time to renew my policy. I told him no, because I never really needed it, and I had bought a policy from him last year only to help him win an award. He said: 'But you need some protection.' He called again the following morning and said: 'We must talk.' That was why I ended up in a restaurant, waiting for him. Here he comes, walking and talking on his mobile phone at the same time. He gives me a firm handshake and a broad smile. I waste no time and tell him once again that I do not need any life insurance. The only assurance I need after I die is a proper burial, for which I have saved some money - although that fund has dwindled considerably since last year because of the insurance payment. He is beginning to look that way again - lips trembling, voice cracking, and eyes teary. He has another secret to tell me. The way the award works is that he has to keep his clients for at least 13 months, otherwise he will lose a lot of points (money?). Here we go again. I try hard to think of a compromise, but he has come well prepared. Apparently he has already consulted his supervisor, and they have worked out a more affordable policy for me. Then he takes out a chart and a pocket calculator, and does some serious calculation. He is offering me a cheaper policy, but he warns me: 'The cover is less.' He adds: 'I've been working hard to come up with this unique policy so that you are protected.' I reply sarcastically: 'I owe you one then.' He may or may not have heard the remark because his mobile phone starts to ring. He says he will be on his way to meet another client in a few minutes, so he has time only for the other half of my sandwich. Guess who picks up the tab for this meal.