Wander logo

The Winner-Not!

Winning doesn't always mean you won.

By Mark GagnonPublished 2 months ago 5 min read
The Winner-Not!
Photo by Katarzyna Ostrowska on Unsplash

At 11 a.m. my phone rang. I immediately picked up as I was waiting for a call from an exterminator. At 8:00 a.m. I had called Joe the Terminator, his idea of a clever play on words, to take care of a mouse problem. His answering service said he would get right back to me. That was three hours ago. I waited impatiently while the rodent had the run of the house.

The caller I.D. displayed a number I didn’t recognize, which normally means I don’t pick up, but Joe might have a new mobile number, so I answered. A jolly voice started talking before I had a chance to say hello.

“Is this Mr. Jay Jackson of 101 Milton Street, Clinton, Massachusetts?”

“Why don’t you tell me who this is first before I answer that?”

“Of course, of course! One can’t be too careful these days,” responded Mr. Happy Talk. “My name is Peter Bruce from WBZ radio and I’m calling to inform you that you have won an all-expense paid cruise to the Bahamas for two! What do you think about that?”

“What I think is you must have me confused with someone else. I haven’t entered any cruise contests. This is definitely a mistake.”

“I assure you, Mr. Jackson, this is no mistake. The local Stop & Shop ran a contest and when you used your rewards card, you were automatically entered. You’re our grand prize winner!”

“Well…, I just don’t know what to say. I’ve never won anything in my life, and now I’m going on a cruise to the Bahamas. I can’t wait to tell Janis! She’ll be over the moon! When are we scheduled to leave, and for how long?”

“The ship leaves two months from today from the Port of New York, so dust off those passports and prepare for the trip of a lifetime. All the details will be emailed to you.”

“Wait, did you say passports? Jan and I haven’t been anywhere that requires a passport. Hell, we’ve never been out of Massachusetts.”

“All the details are being forwarded to you as we speak. Once again, congratulations and thank you for shopping at Stop & Shop. This is Peter Bruce signing off.”

Jay no sooner put the phone down and it rang again. “Now what?” Jay exclaimed.

“Hi, Mr. Jackson, this is Joe the Terminator. I can be there in ten minutes if you still need me.”

“Yes, the sooner the better. This pest has been driving us crazy.”

Jay hung up and let out an uncontrollable laugh. He couldn’t wait to tell Janis how his day had gone since she left. Not only was he getting rid of the mouse, but they were also going on a cruise. The day just couldn’t get any better—and it didn’t.

The exterminator found nothing to terminate. It appeared the mouse had overheard Jay’s call and left for a safer location. Joe put out a few traps, charged his customary $40, and was pulling away just as Janis returned with a car full of groceries. Jay rushed to meet her.

“Honey, have I got some news for you!”

“I saw you got rid of that damn mouse. Glad that’s taken care of.”

“No, no, I mean yes, it’s gone, but that’s not the big news. We won a cruise to the Bahamas.”

“Okay Jay, stop screwing around and help me with the groceries before the ice cream melts.”

Jay grabbed an armload of bags and explained the morning’s events as they walked inside. They both rushed to the computer and brought up their email. There in the inbox sat all the travel information, as promised. The instructions were very explicit about passports. No passport, no trip.

It took a week before they could secure an appointment at the local post office for pictures and paperwork. To guarantee the documents would arrive on time, Jay paid $600. It didn’t matter; the trip was free!

On the way home, Janis decided she had nothing suitable to wear, and Jay couldn’t go on a cruise wearing jeans and faded T-shirts. The winning couple returned home after spending $800 on clothes and $300 on suitcases.

The weeks dragged by as their anticipation grew. They made several calls to the special number for tracking passports and each time was assured there was nothing to worry about. It was true. The documents were delivered the day before Jay and Janis were scheduled to leave.

The couple arrived at the NYC docks brimming with excitement and awestruck by the size of the buildings and the ship. They were surprised by a service fee of $10 per bag for them to be delivered to their cabin, but what the heck, they were on a free trip to the Bahamas.

Two hours out of port, the ocean went from calm to roiling with massive swells, rocking the ship from side to side. Janis was unaffected by the motion, but Jay became violently ill. His seasickness was so bad the ship’s doctor recommended they fly home from Nassau. The weather was predicted to be just as bad for the trip back. Unfortunately, they didn’t buy travel insurance, so the cost of a flight was on them.

The displaced couple booked a room at the Atlantis Hotel and Casino for $500, and once settled in their room, started calling for flights. The only available seats to Boston were in first class, at a cost of $1200 each. Out of options, Jay booked them.

The beleaguered couple arrived at Logan airport late the next afternoon, rented a car for a one-way trip to Clinton for $100, and headed home. Ninety minutes later, Jay and Janis walked through their back door, dragging the suitcases behind them. They flopped down on the couch and ran a quick total. Their free trip had cost them $4,720.

Jay walked to the kitchen for a glass of water. The mouse was sitting by the refrigerator waiting to say hello.


About the Creator

Mark Gagnon

I have spent most of my life traveling around the US and the globe. Now it's time to draw on these experiences and create what I hope are interesting fictional stories. Only you, the reader, can tell me if I've achieved my goal.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. Expert insights and opinions

    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

  2. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  3. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  4. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

  5. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

Add your insights

Comments (2)

Sign in to comment
  • Donna Foxabout a month ago

    Please tell me this is just fiction and not a personal experience! This felt all too real for me!! So well written, kept me engaged and unable to stop reading! Well done!

  • Tina D'Angelo2 months ago

    Oh, God. Laughing out loud. I think my hernia just popped out. Excellent! How did you do with your contest?

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2023 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.