32. Paying to Win
Tom noticed that every morning when he went to school, his mother would give him a letter to drop in the mailbox on the corner. “Who are you writing to so much?” he asked. “I’m just trying my luck,” Tom’s mother told him.
A few weeks after Tom started mailing out the letters, he noticed that his mother was getting a lot more mail. Some of the mail advertised on the envelope that she might already be a winner. His mother was also getting many more magazines. Some of the magazines were about things his mother didn’t even care about, like cats.
“Mom, why are you getting so many magazines?” Tom asked her. She told him that she had been entering contests and that part of the process included subscribing to magazines. “It will increase my chances of winning the jackpot,” she told him. Soon the family mailbox was filled with more contests announcements, magazines, and bills.
Tom’s mother was surprised. She didn’t think that checking off the boxes of magazines that looked interesting and affixing stickers to the return forms would cost her. She was spending more and more money and hadn’t won anything. She wanted to be like the people in the commercials she saw on television. People bringing balloons and oversized checks surprised those people who entered the contests. Tom read the fine print. The magazines weren’t free and Tom’s mother was not increasing her chances of winning anything by subscribing. Tom did some research and found out there had even been lawsuits against the companies running the contests and selling the magazine subscriptions.
Tom’s mother felt bad. “It pays to win, mom, but you can’t pay to win,” Tom told her. Tom’s mother wondered what she was going to do with all these magazines.