I saw a cereal box the other day. When I was shopping.
It was not a big cereal box. Or a small one. It was made of cardboard like all the others that they put up on the aisles and aisles devoted in supermarkets to the sole purpose of selling something quick and simple to people to chow down on for breakfast.
Some people even like cereal.
The cereal box was for some bran flake concoction I’d never eat. If a cereal doesn’t have at least ten grams of sugar per serving, I will politely decline it and suggest someone else eat it. Someone who doesn’t want to partake in the saccharine joys you can get from sugary cereal.
The cardboard front said something, though, that caught my attention.
“You Could WIN” it began like everything else these days in supermarket aisles does, to the point where as soon as I see “you” and “could” strung together, I know what third word will follow.
But the cereal box didn’t go on the way I had thought it would.
“You Could WIN,” it said, “A Life dedicated to chasing little green rectangles of paper, with bonus rewards of discontent and anxiety guaranteed in a lifetime supply!”
The cereal box seemed to be saying something.
I didn’t know who had designed that box, or how they had gotten away with something like that. People shouldn’t say things that make me think too hard.
“Here’s how you can WIN,” continued the cereal box once I turned it over to the backside to get a better idea of what on Earth it was trying to get across. “First, get born. That’s all you need to do! Yes, it’s that easy!”
I didn’t like the way the cereal box used so many exclamation points. Like it was trying to be cheery on purpose.
“Enter today to be sure you can win!” the box concluded. “Chances of winning are one in one. No minimum age to participate.”
“Stop lecturing me,” I told the box. I said it under my breath to make sure no one in the cereal aisle at that moment thought I was a weirdo.
Setting the box back to where it had stood on the shelf, I scooted my squeaky metallic cart forward a few feet to the rows of Choco Super Bites. Pure balls of chocolate coated in cinnamon, with a caramel core lying underneath as a surprise.
Choco Super Bites had a message to. “You Could WIN” it began, just like the bran flake cereal. But Choco Super Bites said something different. It told me that I could win up to three hundred thousand dollars in a lump sum or as a continual payment to the day I died. Or if I didn’t win that, I would still have a shot at a big white sailboat. Or a car. Or at least a lifetime supply of Choco Super Bites and the free opportunity to receive experimental varieties of Choco Super Bites from the cereal corporation that makes them.
In small print, the cereal box told me my chances of winning the top prize were less than one in a million. Choco Super Bites is a super seller in America’s grocery stores.
I took the box down from the shelf and put it in my cart. I had a contest to look forward to down the road. One I had a shot of winning. I could win.
I could win.