Sweepstakes Shmeepstakes!

Have you ever received one of those pieces of mail inviting you to enter sweepstakes and possibly win a humungous sum of money?  Of course, you have, unless you have been living in a cave without a mailing address for the last 40 years.

After years of tossing those envelopes into the trash unopened, have you suddenly decided to enter one of the sweepstakes and give yourself a chance to become an instant rich person without having to work for the money?

I have news for you.  Not only do you have a minuscule chance of winning anything, but it takes a genius to fill out one of those entry forms.

DISCLAIMER:  All names have been changed, to protect the innocent, the not-so-innocent and anyone else who feels guilty.  If there is any resemblance to any corporations that have ever been in existence, don’t blame me.

Picture this.  You have just received an envelope in the mail from the Sweepstakes Division of the Chimera[1] Corporation. 

The envelope is thick.  For some silly reason, this gives you hope.  If the Chimera Corporation took the time to stuff your envelope like that, it must mean you are a winner, right?  You picture a big factory room full of tiny envelope stuffers, working frantically to overstuff enough envelopes to go out to all the winners of the world, one of which is you.  What humanitarians they must be because you are sure the Chimera Corporation is underpaying them.  Otherwise, how would they have enough money to give out to the winners of the world?

You open the envelope and pull out a load of papers.  Every one of these is covered on its entire surface with print, pictures or both.  The bright colors cause you a 30-second attack of blindness before you are able to focus on any of them.  The cover letter is littered with exclamation point warnings, such as “You might be a winner!”  “Don’t miss the deadline!”  Don’t lose your chance to win $348,000,000 in cash every year of your life!”  This puts the Greed Center of your brain on red alert, which is why the Chimera Corporation paid some advertising person to compose that letter in the first place.

Actual instructions are hard to find in the mess.  What you do get are warnings to follow the instructions.  This forces you to actually read everything in the packet, which is something you rarely do with anything, let alone junk mail.

You waste about an hour of your life sorting through the whole mess, finding stickers, pasting them on what looks like the application form, seeing the return envelope and pasting another sticker on it, etc., etc., etc.

Finally, it looks like you have a precise, correctly presented application.  You put it in the enclosed self-addressed envelope marked "place stamp here."  You dig through your desk drawers looking for a stamp.  You find an old, unused "forever" stamp with Elvis Presley's picture on it.  You put it on the stamp corner of the envelope and write your return address on the other edge.

You put the application in a mailbox on the way to church to light some candles.

[1] One of the definitions of chimera, according to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary:  an illusion or fabrication of the mind, especially : an unrealizable dream


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