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BY COLUMNISTS

| Joe Charlebois | Guest Columnist | Harry M. Covert | Norman M. Covert | Hayden Duke | Jason Miller | Ken Kellar | Patricia A. Kelly | Edward Lulie III | Tom McLaughlin | Patricia Price | Cindy A. Rose | Richard B. Weldon Jr. | Brooke Winn |

DOCUMENTS


The Tentacle


April 2, 2006

I Never Expected To Win This..

Tom McLaughlin

Humor by Tom McLaughlin

I only go for the free stuff. The pads, pens, cold drink jackets, key chains and other advertising paraphernalia distributed by the individual merchants at the industry trade shows held during the winter in Ocean City. I have become adept at snaking my hand through the crowd, clamping onto a treasure and withdrawing before the poor representative can give me their sales pitch.

Each display of sometimes over 200 merchants contains large colorful advertisements for their products. These can range from a million dollar boat to a lawn service, which, after you add everything up over the season, probably costs the same as the boat.

The Waterman's Show has dealers selling nets, lobster pots, crab pots, miles of fishing line, work boats and waterproof clothing painted traffic cone orange. The freebies here include whistles that you blow when you fall overboard, and tons of free sunscreen distributed by the local hospital. They also have this ultra violet box you stick your head into and it tells you what part of your face will be the first to fall off from cancer.

The boat show is crammed full of hundreds boats of all shapes and sizes. The cheapest one I could find was an aluminum job with a small outboard motor for around ten thou. Off in one room was an arts and craft show where the uninterested half of the couple can shop for various home spun décor. "Honey, I just bought an $80,000 boat. That's fine dear, can I get this lamp" is one true overheard conversation.

The Hotel, Motel and Restaurant Show, the best of the lot, sport samples of fish, steak, hot fresh donuts from a machine and other wondrous foods, all competing for the restaurant owners attention. The longest lines are formed at the numerous free beer stalls, lesser at the free wine tasting and lesser still at the rows of fresh oysters.

Usually, at every table, a drawing for a top prize will be selected from those who deposit their name and address. They give away everything from hot tubs, to patio furniture, to vacations, to boats, to free dinners - and more.

I usually receive a batch of those return address stickers from someone pleading for money and them erroneously thinking I will send some cash because they gave me something. Wrong! I take the stickers, shred the info and whisk them to these shows where I slap them on the entry forms. I guess they haven't discovered no one uses the mail system anymore.

I perform the same maneuvers as lifting a pen. I grab the form, apply the label, slip it into the container and leave before the salesman can catch me. I never look at what they are giving away, because I don't have the chance. I just look for the red box, fish bowl or the little bingo twirly cage and deposit the info.

And, what do you think came in the mail to this tree hugger, Save the Earth Member, Green Peace supporter, Sierra Club donor, Save the Whales sponsor and every other liberal environmental cause? A letter from E.S. Adkins Hardware Store stating I had won a chain saw.

"How the hell did you win a chainsaw," 90-year-old Dad asked.

"I put my name in this box and it was drawn as a winner," I replied.

"Why the hell would you enter a contest for a chainsaw," he inquired.

"Well.," I said, not able to give a truthful answer.

I thought about asking the hardware store for an exchange of merchandise but could not come up with a response to the question of why I entered the contest in the first place.

"Who the hell would buy a chainsaw in Ocean City," Dad muttered.

"That's probably why they were giving it away" it dawned on me.



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