OFF THE WALL: Prize Patrol

Sep 29, 2011 by

By Randy Hartless
Independent Columnist


— Sorry I haven’t written in awhile. I’ve been busy planning my imminent retirement. I’m just waiting for that Publishers Clearing House van full of balloons to arrive at my house.

I’ve never been involved with Publisher’s Clearing House other than watching the television commercials where the Publisher’s Clearing House Prize Patrol van rolls up on someone’s house to present them with $5,000 a week for life.

The PCH Prize Patrol crew leaps out with balloons in hand to “surprise” the winner. The funny thing is, the winners always look surprised but they rarely look unprepared for visitors. If you come to my house unannounced, you’re most likely going to see a fat, baldheaded guy in a dirty Washington Redskins t-shirt and boxer shorts. Why the Redskins? Well, I’m a Dallas Cowboy fan so I will often wear my dirty, grease-stained, moth-eaten Redskins shirt just to irritate my wife, who is a Redskins fan.

Anyway, I digress.

So this year I received an e-mail from Publisher’s Clearinghouse and I decided I could live right nicely on $5,000 a week. This PCH gig pays far and above my struggling writer pay as well as my current employment. About $4,400 above, in fact.

I figured what the heck, football season is getting underway, so I’ll order a subscription to Sports Illustrated and get ready to live the good life on my Publisher’s Clearinghouse winnings. About a week later, I get another e-mail with this ominous subject line: “Randy—waiver will be activated unless you respond!”

Waiver? That can’t be good. So I follow the link and they want me to order something else, but this time there’s more than just magazines. Vertical blind cleaners. Mickey Mouse alarm clock. Dallas Cowboy Christmas tree decorations. Okay, I’ll order the Sponge Bob Square Pants activity books for my grandson, thereby scoring points with my wife when she sees I’ve ordered something else and simultaneously making my grandson happy.

Then a week later I get this e-mail message: “Randy Hartless—Fair Warning Issued!”

Fair warning? That can’t be good. Sure enough, the message warns that there is an imminent “Risk of Forfeiture” unless I act quickly. I’m sure there’s a place on these messages that tells me I do not have to actually order something to prevent said forfeiture, but I cannot find it, so I start browsing through the products I should buy to stay in the hunt for that $5,000 a week.

Aha! A personal trimmer! This thing looks like a miniature weed whacker and I am in desperate need of one. As I get older the hair on my head apparently begins to grow backwards through my brain and out of my ears, nose, and eyebrows. If I don’t get a personal trimmer soon I’ll be walking around like Andy Rooney (minus the brilliant prose) or worse, Albert Einstein (minus the brilliant scientific theories). As it is I’m trying to use my head shaver to trim my crazy brows and oh so carefully attempting to maneuver it into my nostrils to take care of business in there.

So I order the personal trimmer for four easy payments of only $3.99. A pittance of my $5,000 a week to be sure, and I might be able to stave off the dreaded ear, nose, and crazy brow hairs for a few more years.

After I ordered the personal trimmer, I received another message from PCH thanking me for my order and teasing me by saying, “Somebody with the initials R.H. will be awarded $100!” This is great news for me. It’s also good news for Rudy Hernandez, Robert Holman, Rene Hopkins, and Raymond Hartman. In fact, it’s good news for all 17,908,621 people with the initials R.H.

So you’ll probably be seeing me on one of those Publisher Clearing House commercials any day now. I might be wearing a dirty, grease-stained, moth-eaten Washington Redskins t-shirt and boxer shorts, but no hair will be growing out of any of my visible orifices.

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