Friday, December 12, 2008

A Peachy Sweep Christmas

Years ago when I was in the husband hunting mode I read articles that would suggest that I join clubs that are focused on activities I enjoyed. Back then I was really involved with radio contests. I actually did quite well with them and went to see many concerts, won many t-shirts, albums, and even a few trips. I didn’t know of any groups that were involved with radio contests. It seemed that people like me were pretty solitary in our passion. We’d tell loved ones and friends of our wins but they simply thought we were just incredibly lucky and they’d insist that they never won anything. Sweeping was pretty much a solitary pursuit for me.

I’d dated a few guys who tolerated my hobby. I know that at least one guy I dated for a period of time used radio live spots as dates knowing that it would be hard to turn down the chance for freebies and prizes. Every week we would go to the WAVA sponsored Friday happy hour at some area restaurant/bar/hotel. There was seldom a time I walked away without at least an album or t-shirt in hand. The best part was drink specials a free eats. It warmed the cockles of my cheap heart. I knew what time the radio stations would tell you to call in and I knew how many lines each station had. Can you say speed dial? I often had the phone ringing before the contest was announced.

I’m certain there were sweeping clubs back in the 80’s and early 90’s but back then radio contests were my staple. They didn’t take much work and they provided me with a stream of prizes. I began doing snail mail sweeps in the mid 80’s but other than a few occasional small wins I didn’t seem to have much luck at them. I didn’t have the money to buy stamps and with two small sons, college, and two jobs, I didn’t have a great deal of time to devote to sweeping. Radio contests didn’t require near as much time or energy.

When I first discovered Online-Sweepstakes it was still on loopy-net. I should have become a member back then. I didn’t. Instead I would come home from work, get online and enter a few sweepstakes online. It was easy enough. Click on the link, get sent the form, complete the form, submit, and keep your fingers crossed.

My interest in sweeping never totally went away but time and circumstances often had control over how involved I was with sweeping. When I first moved to Georgia about seven years ago I was starting out with no friends. How do you go about making new friends? Some people who meet me think that I’m probably Miss Life of the Party but if you really got to know me you’d realize how difficult it was for me to approach new people and make new friends. That’s why I was surprised when Carol first reached out to me and invited me to join Atlanta Peach Sweepers.

At the time it was too far away for me. Alice had moved into our house and her illness required our attention. Sweeping at that time was a luxury and a blessing. When I moved to Cartersville, Carol again invited me to join Atlanta Peach Sweepers. Darryl and I had lots going on in our lives and although I was interested I just couldn’t commit to joining. I think I was also curious just how a sweepers club could help me. You could say it’s all about me but I think I felt as if I joined would I be a burden to such a group or a benefit for the group.

It was this year when I finally began going to the meetings. Darryl encouraged me to go. I tried arguing that I’d get lost trying to go to the meetings, that people wouldn’t like me, and the cost of gas. “Cathy, you say you want to make friends but then you don’t make any moves in that direction. Go to the meeting. I’ll go with you maybe I’ll learn something.” Ok he talked me into it.

I’m so very glad that I found Atlanta Peach Sweepers. . Down to the very last person they have been wonderful and supportive. Best of all they don’t find my addiction to be strange or a waste of time. We celebrate each others wins and share tips and tricks with others. Just like I’m kicking myself in the backside for not registering with OLS when I first found it I can’t believe I didn’t join the group when I was first invited.

This past Sunday we had our Christmas party. What an amazing party it was. Big hint to anyone coming next year: COME HUNGRY!!!!!!!!!!” There was chicken, lots of sides, and lots of desserts.

When we came in we were given these adorable name tags that were shaped like ice skates. I’ve added it to my Christmas tree this year to remember this wonderful party. After we were finished eating they distributed a nice little gift that included a scratch off lottery ticket. I didn’t win and neither did Darryl but for those few moments that ticket went unscratched I imagined winning enough to pay down some bills.

Next we had to select one of the bags that were in the front of the room. Whatever bag you touched was yours. I grabbed a bag and inside was candy (always nice), some beautifully decorated envelopes. Then I pulled out the best gift of all. Five books of stamps!!!!!!!!!!!! I almost broke down in tears. With Darryl being out of work I have to take a look at what we can and what we can’t afford. What am I willing to give up? I’d like to say that sweeping is a necessity but it’s a desire. These stamps are going to keep me in the game and I was celebrating wanting to just hug everyone there for such a great gift. Then it was Darryl’s turn to select a bag. When he brought his bag back to the table we found candy (see previous joyous remarks), decorated envelopes, and A YEAR’S SUBSCRIPTION to SWEEPSHEET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hugged Darryl for picking the right bag and I tried to keep my howling at the moon to a minimum.

Next we played Dirty Santa. Darryl had never played that and I was now an old hand at it after one game. Upon seeing the great prizes others brought I immediately felt sad that we had brought movie posters. The gifts other people brought were so much nicer and I don’t care how much the ARV was when I won them they certainly didn’t match the wonderful gifts Darryl and I won.

When I first played Dirty Santa I had remained unscathed. No one wanted the door hanger I had won and I watched as three or four gifts became “THE MOST WANTED” gift trading hands frequently. This time though I was a Santa casualty. I originally selected a bag filled with unusual Atlanta Post Cards. I was thrilled. I felt like I had won the jackpot really. Once again I was thinking WOW this will save me money when I’m sweeping. I won’t have to buy post cards for a long time. Then came the first snatch. Another sweeper came over and snatched my postcards. I had a post card of the big chicken in my hand and I was thinking about sending that to my Grandkids because I knew they’d never seen anything like that before. Darryl told me to put the postcard back in the bag and I watched it as my postcards found a new home. I made a theatrical little pouty face.

I now had to get a new prize. The idea of the movie gift card sounded good to me especially since I’d won a single ticket the other day from an online contest. I knew I really wanted to see the movie Marley and Me. I loved the book and I was hoping that the movie wouldn’t disappoint me. Then I remembered that a young kid had the movie tickets. I couldn’t take it from him even though his mom said it would be OK. “No” I said “I don’t want to go to hell.” I could really see me sitting in the depths of hell and having someone turn to me saying “So I’m in here for murder what are you here for?” “Oh me? I stole a movie gift card from some little kid.”

Instead I went up to grab another bag off the table. I was cheered up by the fact that the bag contained not only some more decorated envelopes but a book of stamps also. OH MY!!!!!!!!!!! This is my lucky day. I’m still in the game. I’m ready to sweep my way into a big win. I didn’t have that prize very long. Someone else took them and once again I selected a prize from the table. I already liked the gift because of the basket it came in. It was shaped like a heart. Inside were colored pencils, markers, and crayons. They were things I could definitely use for my classroom and I said that when I showed off the gift. I hoped I’d be able to keep this gift and I did. Darryl did come out with some invitations, decorated envelopes, and other sweep supplies. So trust me I’m not complaining. We really had a great time and I really love EVERYTHING we won.

I did feel bad at the end because as I was leaving the girl who had taken my post cards apologized to me for taking the postcards. I didn’t mean to make her feel bad. I was playing on with the game and the disappointment was fleeting and not long lasting. I didn’t mean to make her feel bad. She was playing the game and that was just fine. I was in the game, I knew the rules, and that’s just part of the game. Really I’m not holding a grudge. I hope you don’t either.

I can’t wait to see how next year is going to go and I’m so thankful for everything and everyone who is a part of Atlanta Peach Sweepers. Thank you for including Darryl and I in your group and making us feel like we are a part of something WONDERFUL.

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