Remember a few weeks ago when I told you about this amazing opportunity for me to win a contest for Amtrak? And remember how how I asked you to vote even though you only had one day to do it?
Then remember how you all awesomely voted for me and I WON??? No really. For real, I won.
I got the "You Won Our Contest!" email last week and completely thought it was bogus. I mean, who sends an EMAIL telling someone they won a nationwide contest? I was convinced it was some spammer fishing for my social security number. So like the paranoid delusional freak I am, I called the number attached to the email. Here's how the convo went:
Amtrak Guy: This is John.
Me: (clearing my throat) Hi, John. My name is Kim and you just sent me an email saying I'd won the Amtrak contest.
John: Yes! You did! Aren't you excited?
Me: Kind of. I just don't want to get TOO excited when I find out you're not really an Amtrak person and you just found my name and email on the internet.
John: (laughing) I totally understand. Trust me, I work for Amtrak, and you did win. Sorry for the email, we just find that's the best way to reach people.
Me: So...I really won? Like the WHOLE thing, or I'm just a finalist?
John: No, you won. The grand prize. I just need you to fill out that form I sent you and we'll send you your $1500 in Amtrak vouchers.
Me: EEEEEKKKKK!! THAT IS SO EXCITING! I'm sending it RIGHT NOW!
So fast forward four hours. I sent the forms into Amtrak and was feeling great. I posted on Facebook that I was the big winner and was just about to post it on my blog.
Then I got an email from someone else that was NOT with Amtrak. It basically said this:
Congrats on becoming a finalist in the Perfect Day Aboard Amtrak contest! You are receiving this email because you are being considered for the grand prize. Our XYZ Company is in charge with distributing the prizes.
Please fill out the below forms to be considered for our grand prize. If you are chosen you will be notified no later than February 2, 2011. Thank you and congratulations!
WHAT? I go to all the trouble to be CERTAIN I am the winner, I'm told I am, and then I get told that I'm just a finalist? How is this possible? What if I don't win after all? I just told a buttload of Facebook friend that I won. I don't want to take that back.
So I send in the forms to the prize place and sit back and wait for the phone to ring. I expect someone to call and tell me I am not in fact the grand prize winner, but I do receive a really, really neat Amtrak keychain that I can treasure for years to come.
After sulking for two days, I finally receive the email stating that I am, in fact, the winner. And it's posted here, all official and everything.
And so, I'd like to thank each and every one of you who voted for my story. Thanks to those that told their friends, nieces, nephews, cousins, second cousins, distant cousins, ex-husbands, ex-boyfriends and clergyman and asked them to vote for me. I truly appreciate your efforts, and I'll be sure to tell you where Hubs and I decide to take the girls with our winnings. Right now we're thinking a nice long train ride to see the spelndors of Colorado this summer.
For those of you that might have missed it, below is the story I wrote about a hypothetical trip to San Diego on Amtrak. Enjoy and thanks again!
The Tradition Begins
My digital watch reads 10:20 pm. I quickly glance at the four Amtrak tickets in my hand, convinced we've missed the train. It's already come and gone, I know it. Naturally I'm met with relief when I see our departure is 10:45 pm, just like the last four times I've looked. I just want this vacation to be perfect.
I quickly count the bags at my feet. A plain black suitcase for me and Brad, a bright pink roller-bag for Makayla and a totally impractical fur leopard duffel that Taylor insisted she'd use "every single day!" if I bought it. Which I did.
"Daddy, she's over there!" I hear Makayla shout as she exits the restrooms, Taylor lagging behind. Brad appears from the men's side, typing on his phone. He looks frazzled. We so need this trip. The girls get to me first, their eyes entirely too bright and shiny for 10:30 at night. The sugar has definitely kicked in.
"Mommy, the train is almost here!" Taylor shouts, unaware that the marble floor amplifies her every word.
"Yes, sweetie, I know," I reply, picking up her bag and holding it out. "Hold your bag, okay? "It's TRAIN TIME!"
Makayla is already sprinting toward the exit door. I silently wonder if there's a Children Olympics she can qualify for.
"Makayla, wait!" Brad's zips up his coat to run after her. "You've got to wait for the announcement to go outside." He sighs and runs a hand through his hair as he chases after her. I smile warmly at my husband. I know he's stressed about work.
With the current economy,and the architecture industry suffering in Kansas City, he can't help but worry. When I had initially brought up the idea of a vacation, he immediately grew tense. How much was air fare from Kansas City to San Diego? Could we afford that? Couldn't we just drive? His points were valid but I knew the best way to combat all the anxiety of last year was a restful vacation to California. Flying was out of the question. Delayed flights, horrific cost, boring scenery and no true family time. Driving was an option, if screaming kids and potty breaks every two minutes was considered relaxing. No, we needed a hassle-free way to travel. With delicious food, stunning scenery, comfy beds, unlimited bathroom breaks and a few stiff cocktails, Amtrak was the way to go.
"All those on train 3758, time to board!" A portly gentlemen with silvery gray hair announces, breaking my train of thought. Pun intended.
A bolt of excitement zips through the air as people hurry to grab their bags, count heads and locate tickets. I have already done this. Several times.
Six minutes later, we're on the platform as a bright light cuts through the darkness on the tracks. The girls squeal with delight and begin to dance, forgetting all about the bitter cold. Inside I'm squealing, too. I feel the train before I see it. The sharp, metallic rhythm of the wheels match my heart beat, vibrating my feet and humming in my ears. And then I see it. The glow of the platform lights illuminate the train's shiny metal body, and I find myself unable to stop grinning.
"This is going to be a great vacation," Brad's breathes into my ear. I can tell he is smiling.
"I know," I say, turning to him. "Would it be totally inappropriate if I jump up and down like the girls right now?"
He shrugs. "Go for it. I'm sure the Amtrak employees are used to it." Suddenly his face softens.
"What's wrong?" I ask, disturbed that work is creeping into his brain. "It's time to be happy and relax, right? San Diego! Sunshine and surf, remember?" I badly imitate a surfer.
"Nothing's wrong," he replies, his normally confident voice slightly shaking. "I just remembered that my Grandpa Larkin worked on Amtrak most of his life." He swallows hard. "Grandpa was always so proud of what he did. I bet he'd be proud that this is how we're taking our vacation this year."
I take a long look at our girls giggling with excitement, and then back to my husband. "You know," I say, squeezing his hand. "I bet he would. Now let's go have a ball."