Has something ever happened to you that just seemed too good to be true? Have you ever denied even the thought of that thing because it seems like something that could only happens in movies? Me too! My thing happened during the very first semester of my freshman year of college. At some point, I had filled out a student survey for my school that entered me into a raffle to win two airline tickets. But school associations sent these kind of emails all the time. I filled out the surveys between classes (or in classes) when I was bored, figuring my feedback might be helpful but not ever expecting to win anything from them.
That’s why, one fall day, when I received an email while sitting in class that said I had won airline tickets, I didn’t think it was legit. Sure, it had the specific organization’s name at the top of the email, but the rest of the email didn’t follow my school’s typical template (it even ended with an old-school happy face emoji). Not to mention, I was supposed to go to the Duplicating Center to claim my prize, a building I had never heard of and was pretty sure didn’t exist. In my mind, the whole thing had to be some kind of scam or joke, right? But still there was this speck of hope that nagged at me all class that maybe it was real.
When class ended, I started walking towards the parking garage to leave, but then I decided to pull out my phone and read the email carefully one last time. Here’s exactly how the email ended:
To redeem you prize (typo not mine), please visit Duplicating Center (DC) 122 between 8:30am – 5pm on week days.
To indulge my own curiosity, I opened the school map up on my phone. My eyes glanced across the screen, but I couldn’t find DC on any of the buildings pictured. I tried one last trick. In the search bar above the map, I typed “Duplicating Center.” To my surprise, a little red flag appeared on the screen and planted itself on a tiny building behind the gym. That was the spot where my airline tickets awaited me. Or not? I was still skeptical, but I had to walk by that part of campus to get to the garage anyway so I figured I might as well check it out.
As I approached the small office building, I had to skip through the grass since no actual path to the front doors existed from the direction I was coming from. Standing in front of the building, I paused a moment, still convinced this was some terrible prank and I would be laughed out the doors as soon as I walked in. I took a deep inhale and entered the lobby/waiting room. There was a receptionist’s desk directly in front of me that I bee-lined to. The woman behind it greeted me, and I began explaining the email I had received to her under my breath in the hopes that no one else would overhear this ridiculousness. Unlike in the embarrassing scenarios crowding my mind, she immediately congratulated me before running off to get whoever had the tickets.
“Wait, it’s real?”
The words just slipped out when a second person, a man, came out to congratulate me, and meet the “winner.” He smiled and insisted that it was (hiding any offended feelings he may have felt below the surface). I just couldn’t believe it! The man then escorted me to his office, where he handed me two colorful pieces of card stock with codes on them that supposedly entitled me to two American Airlines tickets. As he explained the rules and conditions to me, I examined the certificates. They looked like someone had printed them out from Word on their home computer. I was skeptical again, but I accepted the certificates and even posed for a photo for the organization’s Instagram.
Driving home that day, stuck in a snake of traffic down the turnpike, I thought of all the places I could go with these tickets (which according to the man in the office was anywhere within the continental United States). So Alaska and Hawaii were out, but that still left the West Coast, the North East . . . my mind was inclined to think of places as far away as possible since I knew those were the places I wouldn’t normally be able to afford to travel to! As for the question of who would get the other ticket, it wasn’t really a question. Of course, I had to take my mom with me 😉 .
In next week’s blog, I’ll reveal where we went and our itinerary for the trip! Can you guess what city we flew to?
Hint: One of the city’s landmarks is a very famous bridge.