Sunday, February 28, 2010

Scavenger Hunts

While I was in junk mail there was a period of perhaps five years during which I conducted an annual scavenger hunt.

The way this worked was:
  1. I would make up a list of items to be gathered by the participants. The items were "weighted" - they had points assigned to them.

  2. We would all gather at the local watering hole on a Saturday afternoon, and participants would draw lots to make up teams of three or four members, depending on how many people were involved. "Couples" could not be on the same team.

  3. Copies of the list would be distributed, each participant getting one.

  4. The teams would huddle separately, assigning various neighborhoods and items to individuals.

  5. The scavengers would scatter, having three hours to earn points by returning to the watering hole, where I was dug in for the duration, and showing me the items, some of which they had to return to their owners.

  6. I handed out the small trophies I'd purchased and had inscribed for the members of the winning team.

  7. We adjourned to the post-hunt party at my house, where some interesting and amusing stories were told about the day's activities.
  • One young woman visited her grandmother, caught her in mid-sandwich, so to speak, and made her take her false teeth out of her mouth so they could be shown to me for credit.

  • One year my buddy Jeff (RIP) found himself on the same team as Karen, and gloated because the year before Karen had been on the winning team and many of the items had come from Karen's mom, When his team finished last, he complained it was because they had a "used mom."

  • One participant, Mo, came loaded for bear. The night before a hunt he loaded his trunk with things he thought might be on the list, and one actually was - a "wheat back" penny.

    He also left his credit card with a liquor store as ransom for a real cash register. He was given thirty minutes to get it back to the store before his credit card was charged, and he arrived huffing and puffing, carrying it into the bar for credit, and *just* made it back to the liquor store in time. Those things are heavy.

    Finally, one of the items was "an out of state license plate." He went to the company parking lot, saw a car with New York plates, swiped one (and left a note under a windshield wiper) got credit, and returned the plate. In the meantime, the car's owner had called the police about it. I never did find out how that ended.

    One thing's for sure - he was in it to win.

  • One year the list included a real saddle. Two guys on one team drove out into the country, found a riding stable, and sweet talked their way into borrowing a saddle. One brought it to me for points and said he had left his partner as hostage for the return of the saddle. At the party, the partner complained "You didn't even ask them if they would take a credit card!"

  • One item was a first place trophy for any league sport. There were a few on display at the company, and the first scavengers to arrive there took one and hid the rest so no other team could use them for credit.

    Similarly, several couples dirtbagged each other. Whichever one made it home first would take whatever was necessary and hide any extras so they could not be used by the opposition.

  • Another item was a pair of handcuffs. Two women headed for one's home while she called her husband and said "Take the handcuffs off the bed."

  • One year a Gideon's Bible caused one member to head for the local Holiday Inn, where the staff gave him one. On his way out, he jumped into line and kissed a new bride.

  • For "a real X-ray" one scavenger brought in an X-ray of a snake, which he acquired from a veterinarian friend. Full credit.

  • Just before a hunt, one friend, Jack, who lived with Karen (who had a first place trophy), told me "I gotta win. I gotta win." I asked him why and he said that every now and then she would pick up her trophy "And she gives me one of these" (twisting an imaginary trophy clockwise in his hand). "And then she gives me one of these" (twisting counter-clockwise).

    Alas, Jack never did get a trophy.