Written by Patrick Lacombe
Do you ever look back at the things that happened when you were young that really could have caused lasting emotional problems? Now we all had to face the day when we found out the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny and a well known Holiday personality were not real. That seems to be part of growing up. I did find it a bit ironic that I was punished for not telling the truth, termed; “lying.” But the same parents seemed to believe that keeping the myths of childhood purveyors of goodies alive was a healthy part of child rearing. Even that is acceptable, to a degree. I am thinking along the lines of contests and such that were pitched to the young minds with fabulous prizes and simple entries or contests.
Comic books and other publications always seemed to have something that seemed so easy with the chance to win a great prize. I entered the drawing contests only to realize that they were merely and advertisement to get you to bug your parents to buy a drawing book, so you could learn to draw the animal better. I was always a budding artist so I thought I did a good job on the original drawing that was sent in. When I got the solicitation back from the contest it was a let down, not only did I not win anything but the company wanted me to send them something. Being an unemployed child, I was probably not their target. As I came from a very artistic family I was enrolled in many an art class, both in school and private classes as well.
Then there were the genuine contests, count the boxes, figure where the trail leads, connect the dots, all seemingly simple tasks. Many a time I folded up my page, addressed the envelope, and gave it to my father to mail. Then started thinking how I would be the envy of all my friends when the prize would arrive in a month or so. Each time the months went by, not so much as an acknowledgment that my entry was received but for some reason was not good enough to win the prize. A few times I had been foolish enough to brag to my friends about the terrific prize I was certainly going to win. Luckily that lesson was learned early. It didn’t take much embarrassment to get a young boy to keep his dreams to himself. Many times I checked my entry, made sure that I followed the directions carefully. My father even caught a few sneaky tricks the company would use to make sure that there would be limited winners. He noticed that there were sometimes hidden items that made a difference in totals or parts of the puzzle. He seemed like he was on my side.
As life went on I realized that winning certain contests were very unlikely. Some down right impossible. One of the exercises in my Statistics class was to learn the valuable lesson on the lottery. While it is “possible” to win the lottery, it is not “probable”. The lottery, like most gambling events, favors the “house” and not the player. The actual statistics are published for the lottery, and it make take a bit to grasp the magnitude of the numbers, but winning is a huge long shot.
Now I have actually won contests as an adult. The occasional drawing or event like that. Normally it is a local type contest. I was actually one winner away from a vehicle once, I was the last ticket and the person in front of me won. I was surprised when I did manage to win a drawing, but it didn’t take any skill, just dropping my ticket in a bucket and somehow it was picked.