Saturday, April 19, 2008

Free Day

This morning I woke with a mission. It was going to be a beautiful day and I wanted out of the house. My wife Amy, and our daughter Savannah, were leaving for Richmond to have a girl’s day at my step mom’s house. The only problem was that I had no plan. Amy is the planner of the family and left up to me the day could be full of nothing. Today must be different. And cheap.

As a family we have committed to go to Disney World this summer. This is going to be a real stretch for us financially, but we are doing it because it is going to be fun (WARNING- link is NSFW or sensitive ears, audio file from Vacation, one of favorite lines of all time. I just couldn’t resist.). To prepare for our family vacation we have agreed to cut back on spending.

After Amy hit the road she called back to say that “The Point,” a local radio station, was giving away Busch Gardens tickets in the Haygood area. Bingo! The mission was set. Swag hunt.

First stop was some small auto shop in the Haygood area. Sam and Calvin both a got a cool hat from NAPA auto parts, I got a free oil change coupon, a $5 Starbucks gift card and the kids got to play inside a inflatable dragon. Not too bad. I was feeling pretty good about the mission.

Even though I wanted a free day I knew we would need cash. We swung by the bank (free lollipops) to pick up cash, because you really must have some on you to do anything, before heading to Friendly’s. I remembered that I had saved free Sundae cards from Friendly’s since last year. Greenbrier’s Friendly’s was happy to hand us our free ice cream, and the Doss men ate lunch.

Over lunch Sam, Calvin and I discussed the next leg of free stuff hunt. I mentioned that there was the Azalea Parade at Town Point Park. The boys were game. After finishing up the Ice cream we were off to Norfolk. Only one problem, no parade. We were about 6 hours too early.

Luckily for us there was swag to be had! In the park there were little stands for all of these different countries. I felt like a pirate raiding each table for writing pens, lapel pens, and maps of far away lands that I will never get to visit. The kids were slow to pick up on the procedure of swooping in and grabbing anything that looks like it might be good, but when they spotted the candy bowls, the game was on!

I made the mistake of sampling cheese from some foreign land where lederhosen is popular. As I bit down on the horrid little lump, my nose was over taken by the smell of moldy gym socks. I didn’t want to spit out the nasty cube of funk, for fear of starting some sort of international incident. So I swallowed it whole. Thank god I had practiced eating the worm in college.

Saved by my lightening quick ninja like swallowing reflexes, the trek continued on and I collected posters, little flags, key chains (Canada gave out bottle opener key chain), stickers, tattoos and kid’s coloring books. I had a bag to carry everything plus I had my cargo shorts. The amount of crap we collected is absolutely ridiculous.

I did have to purchase gas $30, one bottle of water $3, and pay for parking $1.50. Kind of an expensive free day, but my children learned an important life lesson. How to acquire a bunch of free stuff in table raids. When they get older and visit trade shows or conferences they will know exactly what to do.

The kids had fun but now I need to figure out what to do with all of this stuff. If you, or anyone you know, are planning to go to Athens anytime soon, you can borrow my guide book and map of Greece. I am keeping the Canada bottle opener key though.

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