"Free is a very competitive price." That's been one of my catchphrases for a while now and rare are the occasions where it isn't true. This past week proved it in spades. I travel quite a bit for work and it's taken me all over the country, racking up frequent flyer miles left and right. This past week, it all paid off. I had an on-site in Richmond, VA just a couple of hours away from my wife's brother and his family. After a bit of scraping, I found enough miles to book Shauna a companion fare for the cost of transferring a few miles and some administrative fees. They even bumped her up to first class on the return trip. (I had to sit near the back of the plane, but the seat next to me was empty.) Upon returning to the office, I found that my good fortune was better than I thought.
The company I work for does an annual party at which they give away a significant number of prizes. It ranges from restaurant gift cards to flat-screen TVs and travel vouchers. They always have a "you must be present to win" policy, something that has kept a particular co-worker from winning anything for over 6 years despite getting his name drawn every time. The only way you can get around that is if you can't attend because you're on company business. I once missed one of these parties and ended up scoring a portable DVD player that also plays MPEG-4/DivX files from flash memory cards.
Sometimes the prize is a bit more baffling. At the last party, I went home with a new stereo designed specifically for docking your iPod. The problem, however, is that we own a Sansa MP3 player and already have speakers for it. It ended up finding a happy home as a present for The Other Shauna where, hopefully, it has been put to good use.
I think you see where all of this is going. I hadn't been at my desk for more than 20 minutes this morning when one of the managers in our area came over and put a brand new XBox 360 on my desk. Apparently my luck at being drawn while out of town wasn't quite over yet. The only problem is that I do not and have never had a desire to own this particular console. I had to really stretch to figure out a use for it, like Guitar Hero or as a media center.
In the end, I sold it to a co-worker for most of what it was worth and dropped the proceeds into the "Jesse's New MacBook Pro" fund. Still a big bucket of awesome.
(Special bonus points to whomever can name where the title comes from without searching for it on the Interweb.)