Hand cramps, office supplies, and a hotel sweepstakes


Last time, I talked about the Priceless Surprises promotion, a sweepstakes which is designed to get you to stay at IHG (Holiday Inn) properties and pay with a MasterCard.

However, due to laws regarding sweepstakes, there is a way to enter the promotion without doing either of those. All you need is some office supplies, a steady hand, and lots of patience.

I have all of those things, so I decided to enter.


I enlisted the help of a friend and fellow travel hacker. I figured a plan like this required the company of someone as crazy as I am.

First stop: supplies. We went to our local office supply store to purchase the following items:

  • 100 index cards
  • 100 envelopes
  • 100 stamps

Total cost: $59.48.

Haven't been to one of these in a long time.
Haven’t been to one of these in a long time.

So in my mind, this promotion will be a total success for me if I can earn more than $59.48 worth of prizes. (I’m not counting the time I spent writing out index cards, since it’s not like I would have been doing billable work during that time anyway.) As mentioned in the previous post, the odds of making more than $60 are all but assured, unless I make a stupid mistake.

Watch me convert this into free hotel stays!
Watch me convert this into free hotel stays!

From there we headed to my local coffee shop (where 85% of all of these posts have been written), and set up a little office among the crowds of people doing homework.

And then we got to our own homework.


I timed that it took me about a minute to write out a single index card. With the ability to enter 94 times, that’s 94 minutes of solid work, not accounting for breaks.

10 down, 84 to go.
10 down, 84 to go.

It’s also not accounting for the fact that I haven’t written this much in years. Let’s face it, what do we usually write these days? For me, it’s signing for bills and the occasional paper form for some agency. Aside from that, nothing.

This is actually fine by me. I did well enough in school, but the only “failing” grades I ever got in my entire time in the educational system was in elementary school, where I routinely received an “N” (not satisfactory) or a “U” (unacceptable) in handwriting.

Part of this is because of the “curse” of being left-handed, which causes your hand to work in strange ways. Witness our dear president signing a bill, his arm contorted in an awkward manner.

When you're left-handed, you trail the writing, not lead it. Changes everything, if you ask me.
When you’re left-handed, you trail the writing, not lead it. This changes everything, if you ask me.

But I know I can’t blame it all on being “sinister“.

Anyway, handwriting quality was of utmost importance in this case, because illegible entries would naturally be thrown out, thus wasting time effort and potential return on investment. My 94th index card had to be as clear as my first.

Chirographic satiation

Have you ever said a word over and over until it loses all meaning and becomes something completely strange and foreign? (If not, try saying the word “corn” out loud for five minutes. You’ll see what I mean.)

Writing the same letters and numbers over and over was sort of like that for me. After a while, the glyphs ceased to mean anything, and just became squiggles that had to be executed in a certain order. Over and over. My focus narrowed to the table in front of me, my pen, my aching thumb, and the two stack of index cards (one filled out, one blank).

Starting to get a little fuzzy.
Starting to get a little fuzzy.

I could see why someone online recommended a bottle of whiskey as an accompaniment to this task. But I don’t think that would do anything for my handwriting.

More to go

After two hours, I had completed the task. Or rather, the first task. The following tasks still remained:

  • Addressing the envelopes
  • Stuffing the envelopes
  • Stamping the envelopes
  • Sealing the envelopes
  • Mailing the envelopes

Field reports showed that while the index cards had to be handwritten, the addresses on the envelope need not be. So my friend volunteered to use his work printer to print on the envelopes, thus saving us time, effort, and more pain in the thumbs.

But that still leaves the other four tasks. I’ll save you the gory details though, and just report back on what happens. Will this be another entry in my travel hacking blunder series, like the lounge and the hotel?

Keep reading and I’ll be sure to let you know.

My aching thumbs.
My aching thumbs.

But enough about me: Did you enter the Priceless Surprises promotion?

Comments are closed.