March 10, 2021 – Safeway Monopoly

My friends, I’m in big trouble! Safeway has started up their ‘Monopoly’ game again. This is not good! I am a sucker for free stuff and I know that if I ‘play’, I am bound to get some free stuff, even if it’s just some bottled water, aspirin, and a canister of salt. I cannot help myself. There are much bigger prizes, of course! There are millions of dollars at stake, along with homes and boats and cars and all kinds of cool stuff. Each year I tell myself, “Never again!” and each year, when the Monopoly game rolls around yet again and the checkout cashier asks if I’d like to play, I respond, “As much as I hate to say it, YES!!!!” The true name of the game/contest should be ‘Buy a bunch of crap that you really don’t want or need in order to get more tickets’, because that’s really what it’s all about. Yep, it’s all about marketing and getting the American consumer to buy, buy, buy! Sad to say, but I ‘fall for it’ every year. What can I tell you? Those folks at the marketing firm know what they’re doing!

I have played this ‘game’ for many years but last year was the first time I felt like I could have used an intervention. I got a mild case of carpal tunnel syndrome from ripping the tabs off either side of each ticket and my fingers ended up stained blue. As I said, I may only end up with bottled water, aspirin, and a canister of salt, but I may also end up with much, much more! When I played in 2020, initially I was only bringing home maybe 11-17 tickets per shopping trip, but towards the end of the game, I was bringing home anywhere from a half of a box to an entire box at a time. If I remember correctly, each box contained 250 tickets. That’s a lot of tickets to individually tear tabs off of and either scan with my phone or enter the codes individually on my computer. What did I win? To make this ‘fun’, I want you to sing (or read) the following sentence just like you’re singing the final part of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, because that’s what it felt like.

Ready? On the twelfth day of Christmas, my local Safeway gave to me, twelve bagels and donuts, eleven boxes of tinfoil, ten extra tickets, nine bottles of water, eight loaves of french bread, seven bottles of dressing, six boxes of pasta, five tubs of sour cream, four AA batteries, three standard lightbulbs, two bags of flour and a gift card for five dollars. When I went to ‘cash in’, I was practically frothing at the mouth! Many of you know my favorite saying, “Guess how much it cost?” My husband hates when I ask that question but he usually goes along with it because he knows how excited I get when I save a bunch of money. Did I ask him that question last year after I brought home all my ‘loot’? Absolutely!! I could hardly wait to spit it out when he said, “How much, $10?” “Nope!!” I giddily answered, “Lower!” “Five dollars?” he asked hesitantly. “Nope, lower!” I shouted back gleefully. “I give,” he answered. “Nothing! I paid nothing at all!” I announced with tremendous pride.

There is nothing more satisfying than coming home with several bags of ‘free’ groceries. It really does feel like Christmas. What on earth did I do with all of that stuff? Well, some of it I donated to the food bank, some I used, some I gave to my kids, and some I froze. I did learn a valuable lesson about what foods freeze ‘well’ and what foods don’t. Bagels and french bread are wonderful foods to freeze. They’ll keep for months if you prepare and store them correctly. Sour cream? Not such a good idea. When I finally took it out of the freezer in order to use it, once it defrosted, I think it changed into a different food. What was once smooth and creamy was now watery and full of granules. I know not to do that again. Speaking of foods that freeze well, leftover mashed potatoes, spaghetti, chili, and soup are great foods to freeze and reheat later. Anything to save time in the kitchen is a great thing! I recommend placing them in baggies and removing as much air as possible (to prevent freezer burn).

Hang on, I need a moment. All of this talk of savings and food got me a bit worked up. Let’s get back to Safeway ‘Monopoly’. Actually, I think I’ve said all I want to say about Safeway today. I’d like to talk about McDonald’s ‘Monopoly’ and Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes and HGTV’s Dream Home Giveaway. Wherever you happen to live, you must have heard of at least one of these. They are all essentially the same thing, a savvy marketing ploy. They’re designed to get you to buy something, whether it’s burgers or magazine subscriptions or something off one of the ads featured on the website (when you sign up for the contest). I used to participate in them until I realized that I had about as good a chance at winning the ‘big prize’ as I was at ever finding a decent Chinese restaurant in the community where I live (slim to none). They all include the ‘no purchase is necessary’ clause but they also bury that in the fine print so that most people think they have to buy something in order to stand a chance.

For at least 5 years, before the winner was selected, I would go on the HGTV website daily to ‘enter for a chance to win’ my dream home. It was on my daily to-do list like emptying the dishwasher, retrieving the mail, walking the dog and making dinner. I believe it was 2019 when I decided to finally accept that no matter how many times I entered, that house was never going to be mine. I also realized that despite how beautiful and grand each home was, if I were to win, it would require relocating to another state where I didn’t know a soul AND the biggest deal breaker, living in a community where I had to constantly mind my Ps and Qs. I walk through a neighborhood like that twice a week, and as beautiful as the neighborhood is, I don’t want to live there. First of all, their property taxes must be outrageous. Second of all, why would I want to live in a home that had to be perfect inside and out year round? And not just that, I’m pretty sure none of the neighbors would appreciate my husband working on his Harley or changing the oil on his truck out in the driveway.

The reason I don’t play any of those games any longer (aside from Safeway because who couldn’t use an extra 6 boxes of pasta?) is the same reason I don’t ‘play’ the lottery. I know the people that win, win big; however, the winners are very, very few and the losers are very, very many. The odds are against you, just like they are when you gamble at a casino. It’s exciting to see the rare person win an actual jackpot, but 99% of the people that play leave with empty wallets. I suppose that’s the main reason why I keep getting sucked into Safeway ‘Monopoly’, I know I will win something, even if it’s not much. And if I can’t use it, I can always give it to someone who can. I literally took a break mid-post and entered the codes I had from the tickets I collected three days ago and managed to win a 2-liter of soda, a bottle of water, and several ‘tokens’. No, it’s not much to get excited about but it is only week one of the contest so I’ll have plenty more chances to win other grocery items and possibly even cash.

As much as I hate to ‘go’, I had better wrap up my post for today. I have decided to make the trip over the pass to see my family tomorrow. The weather is supposed to be beautiful for the next few days and the pass is clear so I thought now is as good a time as any to head over, and I cannot come up with any more excuses as to why I cannot go. It’s been nearly 4 months, it’s time. It’ll be good. If for no other reason, it’ll make my mom happy. She’s going to be 92. How in the world she has survived this long is a puzzle I’ll likely never solve. She’s a tough old bird, to be sure! Nevertheless, everything is packed, including all of my food items for the trip (the most daunting part of the whole process). And I’ve got her card ready and just need to purchase some flowers and balloons and a small cake for the occasion. Anyway, I’m going to (try to) head to bed early. Have a lovely day! Thanks so much for stopping by. If all goes well and I haven’t run you off, I trust you will return tomorrow as will I.

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