I just need the X!

2008, riding the train to Amsterdam, thinking I may be lucky enough to win a trip (see ad behind me)

The other day I bought 10 small cups of Dannon yogurt. It was on a sale and we eat a lot of yogurt around here. A lot. I usually buy 20 cups when a sale comes along, but because most of Dannon's flavors are "fruit at the bottom" flavors which, at this house we don't like too much I only bought 10. Right now Dannon offers a rewards marketing program where each yogurt lid has a letter on the bottom side of it. If you collect enough yogurt lids and spell certain words (PURIST or MIXER for example) you win something (a trip to the Caribbean or a $25 music gift card respectively). Our first few lids were all different, an R, then an E, and an M. Wow, I thought to myself, I may just win that gift card.

Now I've never won any prize, any reward, any knick knack that involved luck. I don't feel too bad for myself because the majority of us haven't. But I must admit, I'd really like too. I mean, wouldn't you? I've known a few who have beaten the odds and been on the lucky side of probability. When I was a kid, one of my sisters correctly guessed the amount of jelly beans in a jar at a fast food restaurant and won free chocolate chip cookies for a year. Then my brother's name was pulled from a bucket full of names at a toy store and he won a free vacation to Disneyland for 4 people! Can you believe that? We sure couldn't when we got the news. Especially my mom, she loved Disneyland. Perfect.

But me, I didn't win any big prize. Instead, I continued to hope, and around age 9 I latched onto the Million Dollar Sweepstakes. You remember those large envelopes that would arrive at your house, addressed to your mom or dad, with the words IMPORTANT and OPEN NOW stamped on the front, right? I sure do. I would get so excited when they'd arrive in the mail. I loved the mail. "Mom!" I'd announce, "Here's another letter about winning $1,000,000. What does it say?" Translate that into what I was thinking, "Mom! I think you finally won $1,000,000. Open it!"

Unfortunately my mom was not as confident that she had won the million dollars and answered, "Why don't you open it for me? Tell me what it says." I'd rip the letter open, read the requirements, the offerings of magazines, the fine print (the stuff that says you have a 1 in a 765,987,909,234,123,005 chance of winning). Mom hadn't won, but if she followed some instructions and sent the letter back she probably would next time.

"Mom, you should fill out this questionnaire and send it back so you have another chance of winning," I'd request, imagining the man with the microphone and balloons coming up to our door, ringing the doorbell, and handing us a cardboard check the size of dining room table, "You've just won a million dollars!" I was pretty sure it was going to happen.
My mom wisely replied, "Ashley, why don't you act as my sweepstakes consultant? Fill out the questionnaire and send it off. When another letter comes in, you deal with the mail and if I win a million dollars, we'll share it."

Sweepstakes consultant? Deal with the mail? Share a mil! Of course!

We never did win a million, but I sure did have a good time that summer filling out forms and reading small print and filling out more forms. We didn't buy any magazines however. I always wondered if that hurt our chances of winning the million. The small print said that it didn't, but I was always skeptical.

So as you can see, I've had this, gee-I-want-to-win-something-for-free kind of mindset for a long time. To tell you the truth, most of us do. That's why companies continue to use reward points, and sweepstakes, and contests to lure us into buying more. And admittedly, I have mailed UPC labels in to get a free apron (it's red and says Hanover Beans) and some pink plastic grapefruit spoons (they really work), but those things were a result of having bought something already and then finding out I could get something for free. I'd like to think that I don't just buy stuff so that I increase my chances of winning by 0.002%.

But the other day, when I went down the yogurt isle and saw that Dannon yogurt was no longer on sale, I hesitated. I was pretty sure the next "fruit at the bottom" blueberry yogurt was going to be the X that I needed, and that the vanilla one was going to be the I. But I got smart. I resisted the temptation and decided to go buy some beans instead.


Chap said...

I love this! (I always thought when you sent back the non-subscription envelope--did you do the sweepstakes that had those differentiated envelopes-- they threw those in the trash!)

Chap said...

hey, Ash, your entry must have have brought me luck, that day I was notified that I won a hanging basket of flowers (value just under $30) from a greenhouse by the lake where I'd bought a bunch of flowers for the yard!!! Thanks!

jo said...

I never knew you dabbled in sweepstakes back in the day. This is an awesome post.

Did you forget that at that rugby game I won a package of Twizzlers and two tickets to a Jazz game? Sure it's not a trip to Disney Land, but it's something. :) joking of course.

ash said...

Chap: wahoo on winning! Could you send your lucky vibe my way? haha just kidding.

Jo: I forgot about that stuff you won at the rugby game. Awesome! Could you send you lucky vibe my way too?

kel said...

great post! i too have my moments where i think, "the odds are in my favor! it's just a couple more yogurt cups and i'm off to Montego Bay!"

my only real lucky winner experience was through English: his name was drawn at a race and he won a really nice women's Patagonia jacket. of course i ended up with the super cool jacket and i wear often.

one more thing... just to set the record straight: Linds guessed how many plastic balls were in the playroom at Hardees to get the free cookies for a year. you know, for posterity. :)

ash said...

Kel, thanks for the correction. I totally had that wrong in my memory. Now it's down correctly for posterity. And that's nice that you've benefited from a lucky English. Now it's your turn, right? haha