Thursday, December 1, 2011

While visions of Jewel-Osco numbers danced annoyingly in my head

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I love to shop at grocery stores. It's a lot like shopping at the hardware stores. Jewel is my favorite, although I continue to fight against the computer self-check out sections. (Those computers always give me a hassle.)

But I have been collecting those little green playing cards that Jewel gives you when you buy food. It's part of their "Wish Big, Win Big, Holiday Giveaway." But deep down I doubt I am going to win much of anything except maybe $5 -- if I am lucky -- or a few "instant winner" tickets so I can get two more tickets, suckering me in even more.

Here is how it works. You get a game board with pictures of products on it. Sections of the pictures have numbers and you get little green square playing cards that you have to open (not easy) and then find four numbered playing pieces, numbers 1 to 85. (Each number represents an image slice of a specific product.

You open the playing card and then carefully tear away the coupon and then tear away each of the four playing tabs. Each tab gets glued onto its numbered space on the playing board, which is a flimsy sheet of glossy green paper.

Now being a baby boomer, I have certain habits that I am sure some consultant explained to Jewel. I love to spend money on food. I love to play grocery store games. I'm addicted to grocery store games, actually. I don't love to play them at all. It all began int he 1960s (maybe 1950s) when my mother used to collect S&H Green Stamps and I would help her lick the backs and put them in the stamp book. As each book filled up, you could turn in books for certain prizes, like a Waring Blender. Of course, I was only 5, so it was fun. Plus, the glue tasted good. That got me hooked on White Paste glue which I ate along with my lunch at school each day.

But, I have some issues, of course. What respectable curmudgeon wouldn't have a few issues with a game of stamp giveaway at a grocery store? First, there is no real system to the ticket giveaways when you shop. When you make a purchase, the cashiers give you the playing cards with the little tabs that you have to cut away to place on the game board. There is no rhyme or reason to how they are given out. One day I spent $111 and got one ticket. One day I spent $20 and got six. When I shop at a Jewel in a "poorer" community, it seems like I get more playing cards. When I shop in richman's Orland Park, it seems like I get fewer gaming cards.

At first, it's fun to rip them open and locate them on the board. The board is empty. Nearly every one will find its place. But after a while, it becomes harder to find a piece to paste onto the game board.

You need six tickets numbered 1-6 to win the $250,000. I'm missing 1, 4 and 5. I need two tickets to win one of the 8 cars they are giving away (numbers 22 through 25, I have all but 22 and 25.) I need only one ticket to win the one of 75 big screen TVs (42--45, I need 44). And one ticket to win the $500 Jewel-Osco Gift Card (50-53, I need 50).

So I collect the little bastards when I shop. I want to say know, but you never know. What if you get that number 50 and don't check? You have to check. Arrrgh! That's what is so annoying. I have to check. So, for the past week, I have been collecting them, placing them on the dinner table. Starrign at the growing pile. I figure, if I collect enough, I will find one of them.

I have three of four tickets (46-49, I'm missing 46 (Reddiwip)) to win an Apple iPad2. (Nooooooo! Not an iPad2? And I need only 1 ticket to win a digital camera (62 through 65, I'm missing 62.) There are 500 of those cameras.

I can already see where I am headed. The statistics don't lie if you read them right.  There are 60,000 $2 prizes and 8,000 $5 prizes. 500 digital cameras and 100 Apple iPad2s. There are four $50,000 prizes and eight cars valued at $25,000 and again, only two $250,000 prizes.

I keep all of the old tabs, just in case. What if I glue the wrong number on the wrong spot by accident. It could happen? These concerns haunt me throughout the day while I am working.

Oops. I have to run to the Jewel to get some lunch from the deli section. Caesar's Chicken salad. Gotta go. And get one of those last few tickets before the contest ends Feb. 8 -- last day to get a ticket is Feb. 1. So, I have time. Bye.

- Ray Hanania

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