The Day I Won a Car

Posted by on Sep 26, 1992 in Stories

When I was younger, one of the things I’d do to occupy my time was enter contests and sweepstakes. I’d always enter contests in magazines and newspapers. We’d get those Publishers Clearing House letters from Ed McMahon, and I’d fill them out and send them off. In stores, I’d always fill out raffle forms. Then I’d promptly forget about them. I never won anything except more junk mail.

For a few weeks, we had been shopping for furniture for my bedroom. One of our stops was Star Furniture, located just off the freeway near my house. At the store, I noticed a contest for a new car. For this and most other contests, you had to be 18 or older to enter, so I filled one entry out for my mother and another for my stepfather.

While I was out with my stepfather at a Houston Astros baseball game, Star Furniture held a live drawing at the store. But when they pulled our entry and called our name out to the crowd at the store, nobody responded. Luckily for us, you did NOT need to be present to win for this contest. So they called my Mom to tell her we had won a shiny, new cranberry 1993 Ford Probe. When my stepfather and I got home, she could hardly contain herself as she told us the news.

A few days later, we headed to Star Furniture to pick up the car. Angie Sisk, the reigning Ms. Texas, and the local newspaper was there for some photographs. I tried to flirt with Ms. Texas, but she was immune to my adolescent advances.

I was fresh out of driver’s ed, and with a birthday coming up, there had been talk of a new car. So I had assumed that the car was mine. But that was not the case. It was my stepfather’s entry that won, and he took the car.

It was a while before I was even allowed to drive the Probe, and even then, only with very specific rules about when it could be used and where I could go and how much gas needed to be left in it and how it should be washed. I found myself in catch-22 one evening when the sun was setting and I was running out of gas. Which rule should I break? I chose incorrectly.

After much pleading, I finally got the car and drove it out to California for my last two years of university. It was good to me. The Probe never won any races, but it was sporty-looking and reliable. The highlight may have been when my brother’s wife conceived their first child in the passenger’s seat.

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