I can't claim to know the meaning of life. What I have experienced are small epiphanies that have revealed to me what life is not. I had one many years ago, when I was bent over a pile of scraps of paper the size of post-it notes, trying to peel them open at tiny perforated seams to break them down into smaller pieces of paper--narrower than a piece of scotch tape. Then, after reading the microscopic type on them I affixed the scraps to a paper game board in hopes of...something. In 2015, a Grayslake woman won $35,000 in Monopoly but otherwise I have never heard of someone winning more than $5 off at checkout or a bakery donut.
The epiphany: Life was not meant to be spent this way.
I would rather sacrifice the money, even the donut, than spend one more minute over those scraps of paper. I no longer wanted to hunch over the game board, holding my breath because the slightest exhale would cause the slips to scatter. It feels like an awful lot of paper waste, when it's all said and done. And even if you do win something, the winning game pieces must be saved, taken to the grocery store, and deployed at checkout, which for me is a tremendous amount of mental energy.
I decided to live a life free of the Jewel Monopoly Shop, Play Win! game.
The advent of Jewel Monopoly season isn't subtle: at checkout, the cashier either asks you if you're "playing the game" or simply hands you a stack of dark blue paper game pieces with your receipt. Nowadays I, a true role model, choose to "donate" mine to the person behind me (who sometimes is also choosing a Monopoly-free lifestyle. Respect.)
I now feel liberated without the task of playing Monopoly, plus I'm not contributing to the fire hazard at home. While I am a proud and active purger, I live with three guys who are really into strewing paper around--partially-read newspapers and magazines, drawings too precious to recycle, notices from school, all things that are not mine that I ultimately end up recycling.
So it put a real cramp in my style when Steve -- one of the paper-pilers -- declared that it would be "fun" for him to play Monopoly with our three and five year old sons.
"You are never going to keep up with all those pieces," I warned him, the subtext being I am going to be real annoyed if this house is filled up with a backlog of tiny pieces of paper.
"Yes I am!" he promised. Subtext: You secretly think me and all my piles of paper are adorable.
"Okay," I said in a doubting tone, the subtext being, No.
The game ends in three weeks and as I counted last week April, we had 142 unopened game pieces and maybe about ten opened game pieces, approximately three of which seem to have been properly torn apart and taped to the game board. Since that date we have acquired even more tokens, including from a man in the Jewel parking lot who approached me to offload his own tickets, practicing a radical form of Monopoly-free life that I can only admire.
I estimate that with this stockpile there's a 1 in 30 chance we could win a $15 gift card. However, the odds of my husband soon spending an evening with our restless tiny-fingered children carefully tearing, carefully taping, never exhaling--and having fun doing it--I estimate as more like 1 in 625,000,000, or the odds of winning a million dollars in Jewel Monopoly.
But the odds of somebody discovering a pile of unopened expired Jewel Monopoly tickets in our recycling bin later this spring? I'd take that bet.