Thursday, January 14, 2016

Something For Nothing

Most of the time, when a flyer lands at my house, it goes into the recycling bin. Whether it's a menu for the new Chinese restaurant down the block, or exciting offers on home repair from a local contractor looking to drum up some new business, into the recycling bin. These are unsolicited advances from folks who want to get my attention. It's advertising. How would I know that I wanted lemon chicken or a new roof unless somebody was out there stuffing my mailbox with reminders?
It may have had more to do with the mood that I was in than the actual content of the folded paper I pulled from my mailbox. It announced a sales event at our local Hyundai dealer, and I was encouraged by the flurry of bold type across the front and back to peel back the tabs inside to see what prize I may already have won. At at time when two dollars could have purchased me a chance to win nine hundred million, it seemed like pulling back a few inches of cardboard to see if I had won a new car was a cost I could afford. As I peeled each section back, I heard the voice in my head that said there is no such thing as a free lunch let alone a free car. Then I stopped.
The yellow underneath the tab I had just pulled was broken up by red ink. Red ink theat read "winner." I had matched the numbers and torn the paper, now all that was left was for me to call the prize verification number on the back to see if I really was a winner. The winner of a forty inch Toshiba TV. How could this be? The numbers matched, and lined up perfectly with the TV, not the car, but very emphatically not the Wal-Mart gift card either. I presented the evidence to my wife. "Honey, can we drive down to our local Hyundai dealer to pick up our new TV?"
It was a Friday night, and it didn't take much convincing to get her up off the couch and out into the night full of possibility. On the drive downtown, we talked about all the ways that this could be a scam. But wouldn't it be nice to pull up and open up the hatchback just long enough to slide our gift of a TV into the back and drive away? Or maybe we would have to sit through a sales pitch or take a test drive to qualify, but my wife and I both looked the thing over, up and down, and the fine print insisted that there was no purchase nec osessary.
No purchase was required, that was what Walter assured us. Then he went on to point out how even though the numbers we had matched on our game board were located directly across from the picture of the forty inch television, there was no definitive connection between those numbers and the prizes listed. Walter, who made his living traveling from one dealership closing to another, was quick to point out the little trick that had brought us in. Yes, he assured us, we were winners. It was probably most likely that we weren't going to win the TV. The good news was we weren't stuck with the Wal Mart gift card. They were giving out Target gift cards instead. As long as we were there, and we had nothing else to do, we decided to take that test drive. We drove a hybrid Sonata up into the hills of Oakland. We tested the stereo, and found E Street Radio. Satellite radio. Nice. Everything else, however, just felt like driving somebody else's car. Somebody else's new car, but not ours.
We traded their keys for our Target gift card. Five dollars off our next purchase at our local discount retailer. Which is where we headed after our flirtation with winning. Five dollars off a forty inch TV? Nope. Five dollars off new work pants for me and a bunch of Star Wars novelty foods we decided to mail to our son in a care package. Who's the winner here? The guy getting the Yoda mac and cheese.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is a sucker born everyday - Happy Birthday!