"Congratulations, Ms. Garrison!! You have been specially selected by our computer to receive at least one of the prizes listed below. All prizes will be awarded. There is nothing to buy, no sales presentation and absolutely no obligation on your part . . . blah . . . blah."
There must exist somewhere a master mailing list entitled "Potential Suckers," on which my name appears at the top. At least twice a week my mail box is stuffed with fantastic opportunities to receive fabulous free merchandise for doing absolutely nothing.
Except drive 167 miles into nowhere. On any day except a Saturday or a Sunday. At any hour between 1 and 2 p.m. And only if I am accompanied by my spouse. (I have none).
Oddly enough, the award locations are always centered in the sales offices of new land developments, with names like "Whispering Pines," "Lake Hollows," or "Bay Shores." There is inevitably a detailed map, which must be essential if you decide to undertake the trip.
Curiosity demands that I check out the prizes: usually mind-boggling and presented in careful sequence:
25" Console TV
Sterling Silver Place Setting for 24
Pen and Pencil Set
These announcements of my extraordinary good fortune come in official-looking envelopes that always manage to trick me into opening them. Just when I finally caught on to those checks with "Payable to" peeking through the cellophane windows (redeemable only at "Forest's Edge"), I'm taken in by the new wave of "official notifications" posing as bank statements, telegrams or collection agencies.
There is, however, one comfort. These notices aren't just addressed to "Occupant" or "Family residing at . . . " but to me, Ms. J. Garrison . My name is, in fact, repeated throughout the communication so that I am sure to bask in my "specially-chosen" status . . . singled out from all those poor unfortunates not selected to receive such wealth.
I guess I just live in a lucky neighborhood. All my neighbors are chosen too.