A few years ago, while cruising around the Texas State Fair, we came across a contest which could have potentially secured a new Chevrolet Corvette (which just happens to be my son’s favorite car). I resisted, though my friend took the bait and entered his information. This was very distressing for my son, as he already making plans to make a space in the garage for his new addition. (Kids are not born with a firm grasp on statistics and probability. And old ladies seem to have lost it. See “lottery, state”.) It turned out, predictably, that our friend received no less than 3 million calls related to this entry, not one of which was a free Corvette. Lesson learned. Or at least reinforced.
I have a more historical reason for shunning these kinds of sweepstakes offers. Sure, I have signed up for one or two of these things before and won all sorts of awesome prizes. Like timeshare tours, countless anonymous calls, a spot on the Pfizer mailing list… But even before that, I endured a deep scarring in a brush with possible sweepstakes triumph.
Once, as a young child, I viewed a continuous repetition of a commercial featuring a contest promoting the exciting upcoming movie “Herbie Goes Bananas”. The winner of said contest would win a 1963 Beetle. Well, despite being about half the legal driving age, this was still about the most fantastic prize one could imagine receiving. I was determined to win the Beetle! All I had to do was send in a postcard to the listed address. Simple, right?
So I procured a postcard which would soon be my ticket to Volkswagen heaven. My efforts were met with mocking derision from my elder siblings (who apparently knew a little bit more about probability than I did), but I was undeterred. On went the posted contest address. On went my return address. On went a stamp. Probably about a nickel back then, I’d guess.
Anyway, in the mailbox it went. I’d show my brothers and sisters! I could imagine the look on their faces when we came home from school and Herbie was waiting for me in the driveway. Time is a difficult concept for children, but at some point later I did receive something in the mail regarding the contest!
I held it in my hands. It was a postcard! It had the words “Herbie Goes Bananas Contest” on it! Amazingly, it looked a lot like the postcard that I sent. In fact, it WAS the postcard that I sent. Something was going on here. There were no markings on the postcard. It had the proper postage. Things were coming together. In addition to having never driven a car by that point in my life, I don’t think I had ever sent a postcard or a letter, either. Apparently, I had put my name and address in the middle of the postcard, and Herbie’s in the upper left corner.
I had indeed successfully sent myself a postcard.