2008.07.30 Has anybody seen the Prize Patrol Van?

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

It seems like almost every day lately, I’ve “won” some sort of contest. I answered the phone Sunday night, and was told I’d won a membership to the YMCA in a neighboring county.

The caller made it sound like it was a really special prize. She was supposedly calling local people, and the first one to answer their phone would be declared the winner. Unfortunately, I could hear about a dozen or so people talking in the background, probably all reading the same script. I wonder how many “winners” they actually ended up with?

Besides, about a year ago, I’d gotten an almost identical call from a health club in Wauseon. I was the lucky “winner” then, too. Do you suppose both places hired the same company to do their telemarketing? I was tempted to tell the latest caller that the last company to make me that offer went out of business, but I just passed on the opportunity and let her move on to the next lucky phone owner.

I also have been getting a huge number of emails announcing I’ve won some foreign lottery I’ve never heard of. Does anyone fall for these anymore? But why bother with overseas lottery scams when it looks like I’ve won at least $10,000,000 in the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes?

I usually ignore the PCH letters because you have to search through all their stamps and slips of paper to figure out and find what you need to enter the contest. But this one had a different twist.

It seems that the PCH people had already done at least some homework in preparation of bringing me my prize. 

They plan to alert television stations 13 and 24 in Toledo (apparently 11 and 36 are going to miss out on this story).

You always see someone in those “Prize Patrol” advertisements with a big bunch of flowers. My prize arrangements list says that flowers will be provided by the Village Florist. It’s nice that they’re hiring someone local.

Unfortunately, the Prize Patrol plans to stay at a motel in Wauseon. Obviously, PCH is unaware that Fayette has three fine bed-and-breakfast establishments to choose from, one of them just a few blocks south of my apartment. Maybe I can get Don or Jane Stiriz to call and convince them to change their reservations.

PCH also plans to go out of town for their “local gas station” choice. If anyone in Morenci happens to see the Prize Patrol van, it’ll be on its way to the Shell station for some gas. Since they’re going to be there anyway, maybe I can ask them to have Karma or Tanya make me a BLT. Once they arrive in Fayette, I’ll be too busy talking to the media to make something myself.

The biggest problem might be the fact that the sweepstakes entry is addressed to my post office box. Do you suppose the Prize Patrol will just hang out in the post office lobby until I show up to get my mail?

One of the many pieces of paper in the entry was a note from PCH Executive Director Dave Sayer, who asked, “Will you soon see me driving the PCH Prize Patrol Van in Fayette looking for your place?” Actually, I’m afraid that’s exactly what will happen, unless Rick Davis gets tired of them loitering around the post office and gives them directions to the apartment.

I know what you’re probably thinking—what makes me so sure I’m going to win the sweepstakes? I really didn’t until I saw the pictures of the previous PCH big prize winners. Their first names all seemed to be typos with winners named “Martan,” “Erelene,” and “Clemmie,” just to name three.

Somehow, PCH managed to mangle my own first name, spelling it “Ricahrd” on the envelope and in every reference to me in the letter and sweepstakes materials. I’m hoping they will pick me to continue their streak of winners with weird first names. How would you pronounce “Ricahrd,” anyway?

Perhaps I’d better warn postmaster Davis about the spelling discrepancy. But he did manage to deliver the letter in the first place, so I suppose it shouldn’t be a problem. But to avoid any trouble at the bank, maybe I should have PCH make out the check to “cash.”

Anyway, the winner is going to be announced on national television on August 27th. Either I’m going to be a multi-millionaire, or I’m going to be sorry I turned down that free YMCA membership.

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