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June 17, 2009

Everybody wins!

June 17. Day 352.

In LAX's terminal 8, the home of United Airlines, I had three hours to kill before my flight to San Diego. After asking to move to standby and recheck my luggage, and being told my discount ticket isn't eligible for changes, I staved off sleep and wandered around the terminal.

On a corridor in the middle of the food and shopping section, between clusters of gates, a young woman was standing next to a big wheel and smiling.

"Come get your prize!" she was calling meekly. I stared at her suspiciously, walked past and then grabbed lunch. Probably from a credit card company or someone trying to get me to trade miles for a duffle bag. Typical.

On the way back, I walked past the "fair booth" again in a hurry, but remembered something: I'm supposed to be asking at every opportunity I can. Once a day isn't the rule, but the minimum. So what if I asked already to leave earlier. The result was nothing special. And what did I have to lose by trying? So I approached her.

"Hi. What's this for?"

"You can spin the wheel and get any of our prizes, like a free upgrade, door to door luggage service, a bottle of water, extra leg room on your next flight."

"I don't need to pay or give you my contact info or anything?"

"No! Nothing at all! I just need to check off your boarding pass. And everybody wins"

"What's in it for you?"

"We're just here to promote the airline, give people a little cheer. And let them know about our new Travel Options program."

"Well good golly! All right!"

I gave the wheel a brisk spin and it approached a free premium status voucher -- then ticked past, to a book of games.

"This will keep you entertained on your next flight!"

Actually, this will serve as a good chewing gum wrapper, or regift, since I am as passionate about sudoku as Berlusconi is about women over the age of 18.

After I collected my prize, I asked her if she's been swarmed with wheel spinners. The answer was as I suspected. People usually react the way I did initially -- suspiciously, in a rush, scared about their privacy. They don't get over that, don't come back. My day is no better for spinning the wheel and getting that book of games. But what if I had won an upgrade, free miles or a bottle of crisp sparkling water??

That is asking at its core, actually...

Never shoot yourself down. Just got for it, and let people or situations tell you no, if they must.

Gained: A book o' games. A chance at something better.
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