by David Sisler

Inside my mailbox, the over-sized ugly pink envelope almost screamed. "Important: You have been issued a special color-coded reply envelope. Open at once to find it! Return immediately $11,000,000 at stake!" And this was the one with the picture of Ed and Dick! Oh, joy! My lucky day!

You received one, too, right? Is there anyone on the planet, at least the United States side, who did not? I keep tearing these things up and throwing them away, and they send me more. They threaten me, warning that I must reply, but they don't really mean it. These guys and their pink envelopes and the pink bunny peddling batteries. They keep coming, and coming, and coming.

They said I would know on January 31st if I had won the eleven mil. Two days earlier I had received an envelope from the other guys the clearing house which doesn't have Ed and Dick's picture and they promised me $10,000,000, on Super Bowl Sunday. Since I had already sent the winning number back in for the $10,000,000, and not wanting to risk any infirmative action suit for favoring one contest over the other, I looked for the special color-coded reply envelope Ed and Dick promised.

Here is where the fun started.

I had already decided I was not going to buy any magazines. But, hey, why not look at the clever little stickers. And they promised the bill would not come for a while, so Bonnie wouldn't be mad immediately because I had spent more money on reading material. I subscribe to newspapers, magazines, book clubs, and I have been tempted by video and record my age is showing there, excuse me CD clubs. Since the video stores sell previously viewed tapes, I rejected the idea of joining a video club. And with all of the CDs offered, I could not find enough titles to fill out the freebies, so I threw that one away, too.

I started my search for new possibilities with the magazines who were really desperate. Look, if they are going to cut the price, plus offer a free gift, they have to be desperate and that has to be a good deal. Right?

Sports Illustrated offered a free "SI Stadium Pack" with my subscription to 26 issues and four easy payments of $5.99. Or I could try 21 issues for $3.99 (also four easy payments) and not get the Stadium Pack, which was actually an insulated cooler filled with field binoculars and a rain poncho. So for eight bucks I get five more issues (at only 76 cents a copy) and the free stuff.

Now, if I am going to upset the keeper of the Sisler exchequer, I am going to be sure it is worth it. At their quoted rate, the five extra magazines will cost me $3.80, leaving $4.20 for the cooler, binoculars and rain poncho. What kind of cooler, binos and ponchos can you get for $4.20 I asked myself? I answered, probably the same quality as those exciting X-ray glasses I ordered as a kid the ones made out of cardboard, with the little slits for eye holes and the lense which was actually a fly's wing. Pass.

Vegetarian Times had a neat gimmick. With your subscription, they give you a recipe collection entitled "Becoming a Vegetarian." It sounded like hard-sell evangelism to me and since I turn away all uninvited knockers at my door I declined. They may knock on my door, but they aren't knocking at my mail box, at least not by invitation.

Money offered "101 Great Money-Making Tips" with my paid subscription. If those tips are so good, why are they sharing them? When you find the goose who lays the golden egg, you going to tell anyone else where the nest is? Didn't think so.

A watch was the offer from U.S. News & World Report but when Lena Borisinko, my "Russian daughter," gave me a "Pobeda" pocket watch three years ago, I put all of my other watches away and wear only that one. A wind-up Russian watch is very inexpensive, by American standards, but it cost Lena the equivalent of more than one month's salary. No other watch in the world is so expensive, or so personally valuable, so I refrained.

I decided against buying any magazines and looked for that "special color-coded" envelope. When I found it flourescent, glow-in-the-dark green I was crushed. On the back was printed, in all caps and bold type, "Important Reminder: Use this special color-coded envelope only if ordering. No purchase necessary, but it not ordering, see official rules."

The official rules were, I had to provide my own, non-specially colored envelope. The address sticker which they did provide had no glue on the back, so I had to provide my own adhesive tape. And I couldn't use the attractive card to send back my winning numbers, so I just dropped it, unceremoniously into the envelope, licked the flap, attached a non-lick stamp and sent it back first class, but in decidedly second class fashion, before the January 21 deadline. Doesn't a chance at $11,000,000 deserve better?

All of this reminded me of another offer. Free. More valuable than $11,000,000. Does not expire as long as you are drawing a conscious breath. And first class all the way. The offer is eternal life, receivable by committing as much as you know about yourself to as much as you know about Jesus of Nazareth, God's Son. Any takers?


Published in the Augusta Chronicle 1/25/97

Copyright 1997 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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