Worth The Trip, Or Waste Of Gas?
11 June 2011
So on Tuesday of this past week, I received a phone call from a prize claim center, saying that I had won a sweepstakes. My scam radar alert was high, but I continued to listen anyway. The prize that I was "guaranteed" to win was one of these four things, and this is the order they were described to me:
First prize: A 2011 Ford Escape SUV Hybrid (woo!)
Second prize: A trip to A, B, or C (I forget), with airfare and hotel included
Third prize: $2,500 cash, or
Fourth prize: A 32" LCD flat-screen TV
But the catch was, we had to drive up to Woodbridge, VA, which is just outside of D.C. three hours away, to claim my prize. Could we be there at 6:00 PM on Thursday night?
Uh... sure. We have no money for gas, no current, regular, reliable babysitter, and other plans, but yeah, I'll be there. *snort*
I told Rob about it later. He was very skeptical. Knowing everything I had heard on the phone, I knew I was either going to get the trip, which I couldn't sell, or a really crappy TV. We decided that since we didn't have the gas money, we wouldn't go, but then his June 1st payment came through that night, a week late, at last...
So Thursday came, and I still didn't have a sitter for the kids. Long story short, the kids and I went to our sorta-weekly gardening class at a friend's house that we know from the co-op we attended earlier in the year, as planned. Of the other three mothers in attendance, I inquired as to whether they had a babysitter who would be available that day. As in, from 2-10 PM, or so.
None of them did, but Jenny from the Block, one of the moms, said she could watch them for us. Woot!
So it was time for me to leave the gardening-slash-pool-slash-knitting party, and I went to go put the children's car seats in Jenny from the Block's van. We chatted for a brief second and then I blurted out, "Why don't you and the kids (G and M) come with us?" She was all, "yeah, let's do that!" and so they did.
My minivan was full to the brim, after we met at my (piece of crap, dilapidated, overly-cluttered little) townhouse and switched kids and carseats around to fit Chloë, Jack, M, Sophia, and G, Rob, Jenny from the Block, and me as the driver. Plus all our stuff. I neglected to take a picture, but it was something like this:
Those being sardines, you get the idear.
So we barely had any time to spare to get up to Woodbridge in time, once we were all settled in. I stepped on it and hauled butt, but you know, with five kids under the age of 10, one of whom (Sophia) has an upset tummy, there are bound to be eleventy-hundred potty breaks. And there were.
So when it was down to the wire, a quarter 'til six - which was what time I was supposed to be there to check in - we were still a good 17 minutes I way. I pushed down on the gas a little harder. Drove a little more aggressively, the way I learned to drive in Miami, without being alarming about it. At 6:02, I pulled up to the hotel, threw my keys at Jenny from the Block, and dashed in to the check-in area. If they sent me home, I was ready to pull out the claws, but they were all super-nice and welcoming. Whew.
Rob and Jenny from the Block came in, got some kids potty for the billionth time, and then he came over and checked in, while I chewed nervously on my lower lip. It was all rush-rush-rush for the past several hours, so it was hard for me to settle down, even though everything was now all right. You get like that, too?
Once they seated us in the room with the other couples who were all over a certain age and income level, and I had a chance to look around, I knew what was going to happen: It was going to be like a timeshare presentation, except for Gold Crown Resorts, which is like a BJs or Costco for vacations. We'd get the hard sell, say "no" a hundred times, and then they would hand me a dying plant or a $5 McDonald's gift certificate, and send me on my way.
And that's what it was, exactly. Lively presentation, where you're hit with the "big-money-but-here's-why-it's-worth-it" comedian-type running the show, and then five different "Managers" come sit down and tell you why you can't possibly turn down one great deal after another. They even brought a guy named "Miracle" out. I had made Rob do all the talking, but when he looked like he had just eaten some bad fish,
I finally blurted out, "Look, we really CAN'T do it right now. It sounds great, and we'd love to, but we CAN'T."
They "gifted us out" right after that. I had to pick a card, scratch off the gold center, and my prize would be revealed.
Since it was a vacation club, there was absolutely zero surprise when my "prize" turned out to be ... a vacation! Duh, it wouldn't cost them a damn thing. The card with the 2011 hybrid probably only got presented to those who joined the club (and some did, that night), I'm thinking.
Anyway, we shook hands, left the room, and walked down the hill to go claim our children and rescue Jenny from the Block. She had her hands full - as fifteen people who saw her trying to negotiate her way to a table with meals for all of them at Chick-fil-A so kindly pointed out. She was all, "They're not all mine!"
So here's what the vacation I "won" could turn out to be, depending on what we pick:
A. 2-night accommodations for 2 adults and up to 2 children in your choice of over 22 popular locations. (22? Really?! I'll be!)
B. 4-day, 3-night fun-filled cruise for 2 adults.
C. 3 nights all-inclusive stay in select locations in Jamaica for 2 adults. (I know what that means. Goats will be sharing our suite.)
D. 2 nights' accommodations and airfare for 2 adults to Orlando, FL, Las Vegas, NV, or Cancun or Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. (Like I'd pick Orlando. And we don't gamble...)
E. 4 nights accommodations in choice of 4 Mexico locations for 2 adults (but you don't fly free!)
F. 4-night Florida vacation for 2 adults and up to 2 children. (pass. Been there, just did that.)
G. 8-day, 7-night condo stay in resort accommodations in one of over 3,000 available resorts. 2 adults and up to 2 guests.
H. 4-day, 3-night accommodations in the Bahamas with round-trip cruise transportation for 2 adults. (Bah. Bahamas = Teh Suck.)
At first, we were thinking of doing G, and picking somewhere nearby like the Outer Banks or Williamsburg or something, but now I'm taking a closer look at one of the Mexican options in D. The only question is, who would watch the kids for those three days? Hmmm? Takers? They're a challenge, but them sure is cute!
We have, like, three weeks to decide.
In the end, we had a fun adventure, and Jenny from the Block and I got to chatter away for six nearly-uninterrupted hours about our lives, our kids, our issues, and so much else. Since she was a therapist in her past life, she really made me see things differently about a number of things that have caused me trouble. Hopefully, it wasn't all a take-take-take conversation, and she got some good out of it, too.
Since no kids got carsick, I call it a WIN.