Monday, October 20, 2008

No Smart Car for me :(

The event was to begin at 6:30pm at Star Motors. After leaving work, I picked Sandra up at work and we drove to the dealership. We would have arrived at around 5:50pm, so we took a short detour to Timmy's to grab a coffee and then parked in the Costco parking lot to have a smoke (or two, in my case) I asked Sandra if she was nervous and she said no. I was a bag of nerves. Maybe this was a good sign, we thought, because she's usually nervous about stuff like this.

At around 6:10pm, we drove to the dealership which was only a few minutes away. They had a guy standing at the entrance checking invitations, since the entire dealership was closed down for the event. He told us to drive around back, park and head on in.

There were already a lot of people there, maybe just over half of the 34 qualifiers and their guests. It turns out they also had other Smart Car owners there as well, since it was also a customer appreciate party that they hold once in a while.

Just inside the entrance they had a desk with two people, a whack load of gift bags and white "Read Red" Ottawa Sun T-shirts, and a short line-up of people waiting to register. We were about fifth or sixth in line, but it was slow going. When it was my turn, I handed the guy my driver's licence, he checked it and wrote down some info, then I was handed the sheet he filled out. On it was a skill testing question to answer, then print my name and sign it.

The skill testing question was easy, as they usually are: 10 x 4 / 2 + 5 - 15.

The division sign looked a little like a plus sign at first. I had to ask Sandra if it looked like a division or plus. She agreed it was a division. So, in my head I'm working it out... "10 times 4 is 40... divided by 2 is 20... plus 5 is 25... minus 15 is..." brain freeze. So easy, but I was nervous! :) "Duh... 10.. that's it." I looked it over quickly to make sure I was right.

They handed me a large gift bag and asked me to take one of the white T-shirts and wear it and wished me good luck. All the qualifiers had to wear one so they were easy to spot. We stepped to the side and I put the T-shirt on over the T-shirt I was wearing. That's when I had to ask Sandra if I got it right. She assured me I did.

They were serving burgers and sausages at the other side of the show room. We walked over and I grabbed a bottle of water. I was too nervous to eat anything.

There must have been 15-20 people in line to register now.

We checked out the car they were giving away. I had heard that they were roomy, and had seen one a few years earlier, but not this close. It's VERY roomy inside. Sandra got in tried it out for size. They had 4 snow tires stacked beside the car. They announced later that they were including them with the car.

We stepped outside for a smoke break while waiting for them to begin the draw. I think it must have been close to 7:00pm when they announced how the draw was going to take place.

We walked back into the show room as they spoke. What they would do is pick a name out of one box, then that person would go up and pick a number out of a second box. The number you picked would be matched with a numbered CD. You then got into the car and popped the CD into the car stereo and if it played the sound of a car starting, you won. Anything else meant you lost.

They began with some speeches by the various sponsor: Ottawa Sun people, Live 88.5 people, and the manager of the dealership. McEwan's gas was also a big sponsor, but I don't recall if any of them spoke. They also announced that they have another contest coming in January where they will be giving away TWO Smart cars. As one prize or two? We don't know yet.

Next, they called each person's name and you had to raise your hand to acknowledge that you were still there(?) Then, before the big draw, they drew a few names for some Thule car bags(?) donated by JREK Autocare.

FINALLY, it was time for the big prize draw.

The first thought in our minds was "Wouldn't that suck if the first person won it?" Surely, not for that person! :) I had my hands in my pockets, with fingers crossed the whole time, between applauding each person as they went up to pick a number.

My mind was a jumble of thoughts. Do I want to be an early pick? Or a later one? The more people who try and lose, the better the odds for the remaining people, right?

One by one they called names. One by one, they lost. Sandra actually tracked the odds as they went along. The losing sound was a "Whaa whaa whaa whaa whaaaaaa...." followed by a female voice "I know baby... it hurts to lose" followed by a few different voices... "Loser... loser... lahoo-saher". Umm... a little harsh, perhaps. I think some of the Live 88.5 folks thought so too, but everyone had a good laugh.

They were down to the last 16 numbers when my name was finally called. A 1 in 16 chance. I walked up, reached into the box and pulled out a number. #14. They handed me CD #14. I walked over to the car and hopped in. A woman from Live 88.5 (I think) hopped into the passenger seat and chatted away, wishing me luck (I think). Seriously, it's all pretty much a blur from this point on. I can't remember a thing she said. I was nervous as hell. I took the CD out of the sleeve and put it into the car's CD deck while the radio played away. Seconds later the radio stopped...... followed by "Whaa whaa whaa whaa whaaaaaa...." *sigh* I pressed the eject button before it could continue, like many before me had done. I got to keep the CD. Yay. ;)

I got out of the car and walked back to Sandra and dropped the "loser CD" into the gift bag. We then continued to watch as more names were called. THREE people later, this elderly man's name was called. He walked up, reached into the box and pulled out a number. #22. He got the CD, walked over to the car and got in. He didn't look very nervous. In fact, he was quite expressionless. He popped the CD into the deck.

The sound of an engine starting played over the speakers, followed by some winning style music. Cheers and applause erupted in the show room.

He seemed stunned. Or in shock? Or just ho hum. No emotion whatsoever. Photographers snapped photos like crazy. He got out of the car and the DJ, Katfish Morgan from Live 88.5, asked him how many cars he's won in his life. He responded... "Umm... I don't know... I lost count" Seriously, that's what he said. Just joking or serious? It was difficult to tell.

The organizers thanked everyone for coming, yada yada yada, and then most people hustled out the door, as did we.

As we drove past the showroom, I could see a crowd of people all getting their picture taken. The winner and sponsors, no doubt.

I think Sandra is more disappointed than I am, oddly enough. A second car, especially one so good on mileage, would really have been nice to have.

Oh ya, the gift bag -- what was in it?
  • 2 plastic Ottawa Sun mugs w/ lids
  • 3 "Read Red" Smart Car key chains
  • 1 Ottawa Sun T-shirt (different than the one they made us wear)
  • 1 Ottawa Sun blanket
  • 4 tickets to an Ottawa 67's hockey game
  • 1 manicure set
  • 2 Ottawa Sun car window ice scrapers
  • A brochure/discount coupons for JREK Autocare
  • A Hot 88.5 "Big Money Shot" Volume 2 CD (uhh.. music?)
  • $100 in gift certificates for McEwan's Gas (which I originally won for qualifying back in June)
I think that's about it!

It was a well-organized event. Fun, excitement, and disappointment all rolled up into one evening. What more could you ask for? Yeh, the car would have been nice. ;)

Both Sandra and I will be entering the next contest in January. :) I have to say that the Smart Car really is a nice little car. I could see us owning one in the future.

[Correction: Sandra says that they asked the winner how many new cars they've owned before, not how many they've won. I'll go with what she says she heard since, as I said, my mind was mostly a fog. :) The winner looked a little happier in the photos in the paper this morning. His wife seemed much mire excited in the photos than he did though.]
[P.S. I had a listen to the Live 88.5 CD last night. I've never heard any of the songs on it, and none of them sound like anything I'd ever listen to. No offence, Live 88.5... but thanks for the coaster]

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  1. "I lost count."


    I would have wanted to snatch the keys from his hand at that moment and drive off into the sunset in my newly acquired Smart Car. I say you start reading the Ottawa Citizen and buy a gas-guzzling SUV in protest! Viva la resistance.

  2. See the correction above. I'm still sure that's what I heard, but I'll trust that my wife had better hearing last night than I did. :) I already drive an SUV. It's not what I was call gas-guzzling, but it doesn't get car gas mileage!