I’m bored. I have nothing to look forward to in life any longer. Valentine’s Day is over, and so is the thrill of the hunt. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t care about Valentine’s Day at all. My husband and I opted to not do anything for each other this year. When I talk about the thrill of the hunt, I am referring to a competition that a local jewelry store puts on every other year called “Finders Keepers”. Here are the details, verbatim from their website:
“Cupid’s little helpers at Reis Nichols Jewelers are going out into Indianapolis to hide one elegantly wrapped silver box outside a public place each day until Valentine’s Day. Yep, we’re hiding our little silver wrapped boxes with bright red bows filled with beautiful jewelry, outside public places, throughout the entire city.
NO STRINGS ATTACHED.
We only ask that if YOU find one give us a call and let us know where and when you found the package.
AND… once you call us, we’ll give another gift! We will donate $100 to the charity of YOUR choice.
THE JEWELRY IS REAL.
THE GIFT IS YOURS.
THE PLEASURE IS OURS.
Finder’s Keepers. One gift a day, every day, until Valentine’s Day. Just our little way of spreading the love!
THE DAILY CLUE WILL BE POSTED PROMPTLY AT 9:30AM.
I am a Competitor. I live for this kind of thing. Whether in work or play, you dangle a carrot in front of me, and I am THERE. Given any kind of incentive, like an all-expenses paid vacation or money, to meet or exceed a goal : I will smash it. I have been the recipient of those very things in my day. But, times have changed. I am no longer in the full-on workforce. I work from home at random hours, feast or famine, to be able to be the full-time, stay-at-home Mom that I am. So, when something like “Finders Keepers” comes along, I am ALL IN – whatever it takes.
This year, I missed the kick-off on Feb 1st. The clue was posted, the piece of jewelry was found, and I wasn’t fazed. I decided to jump into the action on Feb 2nd. My husband and I figured out the clue very quickly, and I dragged my 10 year old son along for the hunt. It had everything to do with Pat McAfee, kicker for the Colts, and the canal in Broad Ripple. We searched in the exact location it was found, we just missed spotting it. Perhaps it was because I was hungry, and we were freezing looking in the snow, so we ditched the locale and headed to Perkins for breakfast. In retrospect, that was probably why we missed it. 😉
I didn’t play Days 3 & 4 because I was swamped with work. Not to mention, the Honey Badger was at home with me. I was starting to lose interest in the game.
Day 5: I didn’t even look at the clue when it came out at 9:30am. Who am I? What happened to my competitive streak? Oh yeah, I was still working my ass off.
Until, the phone rang.
My sister, Susie: “Are you playing?”
Me: “No, I’m working. Why?”
Susie: “I know where it is.”
Me: “THEN GO!!!!!!!!! What are you doing?!?! Where is it?”
Susie: “I’m not going anywhere, I haven’t showered.”
She told me where she thought it was, and based on the clue, there was no doubt in my mind she was spot on.
I grabbed the Honey Badger, who was in shorts in 25 degree weather, threw some snow boots and a fur coat on her, and told her we were headed out to “LOOK FOR TREASURE!!” She grabbed her Jake & the Neverland Spyglass, map, and pirate bandanna. We were set.
We hauled ass to the south side of the city – a 35 minute drive. I was on the phone 3-way with my sister and my husband. Sean was looking at the park we were headed to on Google Earth. It was huge. Luckily, since he’s not a dumb guy (which we established in this blog posting), he instructed me to head straight to the basketball goal. Part of the clue was, “If you’re Jonesing for another clue…” and he connected the basketball reference. Susie and I would have totally missed that, as did everyone else that started to show up at the park and search! I was running out of time. I was driving around the park going, “I don’t see the basketball courts!!” when Erin piped up, “There’s the basketball goal, Mommy!”….she got us there, pointing to exactly where the lone basketball goal stood. She led us to the treasure.
We hopped out of the van, searched everywhere, and came up with nothing. We searched high and low, kicking snow over in case it was buried, and still no treasure. We got back in the van and drove around. People were arriving now, but they were searching on the other side of the park, at the playground. I knew we had a leg up with the basketball reference, so I drove us back to the basketball goal. Not wanting to tip off (ha, pretty clever play on words) the other searchers, I drove PAST the basketball goal and parked in the lot next to it. As I put the van in park, something in the tree directly to my right caught my eye. I stepped out of the van. I was still on the phone with my sister, exasperated that I hadn’t located it yet when I knew I was in the right location. I stepped toward the tree and took a closer look.
There, inside a plastic bag, was a beautifully wrapped silver box, with a bright, red bow.
“I found it.”
Susie: “WHAT! Are you serious?!”
Me: “Oh my God. I found it.” I very calmly tucked it into my jacket and slid back into the car. I unwrapped it. It was a beautiful red box, and inside was a silver and diamond Colts horseshoe pendant, valued at $280. Not too shabby!
I turned around to show the Honey Badger what we found….only “we” didn’t find it. I did.
Tears. “**I** wanted to find the treasure and open it!!!!!!!!!!!”
Oh no. I felt awful. I got so caught up in the excitement of finding it, that I forgot the most important thing – letting her find it. I WRECKED IT!
She bounced back pretty quickly, after the tears subsided, and I let her hold the box and ribbon. Not the necklace, though, that was around my neck. If that sounds mean, well the Honey Badger was not going to break it! She already broke my Dylan & Erin necklace that I adored. I called in my find and asked that they donate to the American Heart Association, in honor of my Mom, who is battling heart disease. I kept reiterating to HB how I never would have found the treasure if she hadn’t pointed out the basketball goal. That seemed to placate her, and her spirits lifted as we drove back north. She called Grandmas, Grandpa, and Daddy along the way to tell them about our find. She was hooked. Just like her Mommy, she wanted more.
During Intermission, I would like to share an excerpt of something I wrote to my dear friend, Laura, two years ago. She lives in Arizona and plays the game from afar, helping me out. Based on how it ended two years ago, I’d say I’ve come a long way on this year’s Finder’s Keepers hunt. (The final day’s clue had everything to do with an Irish restaurant/pub.)
“I am finally getting my life back in order now that the damned contest is over! I drove RIGHT by O’Charley’s yesterday on my way to McNamara’s florist in Broad Ripple after leaving Murphy’s Steakhouse. I also wet my pants on Prospect St. in the hood, looking at the Golden Ace thinking it was there FOR SURE. There was not a single place to stop and go to the bathroom, and then I would have simply gone behind a brick wall, but I deemed it too unsafe for myself. So, I finally reached the point of no return from drinking too much coffee during my pre-game.
Also, it was Valentine’s Day, so I had chocolate for breakfast and lunch.
This concludes this season’s edition of ‘Finder’s Keepers’.”
Now that my sister directed me to the treasure, she was all GAME ON, MOFO! for the next one.
Day 6 : Clue leads you to believe it is at the Carmel Ice Skadium, in well, Carmel, where my sister lives and my husband works. Susie and I are on the phone when the clue comes out, promptly at 9:30am. She is in her car in a split second, heading to find it. My other line rings. It’s my husband, breathless, running to his car from his office. Oh shit, it’s a showdown. They meet there at the same time. I’m still talking to Susie; Sean has to fend for himself. I’m telling her where to look – don’t forget to look under things, in trees, on the outskirts…she tells me she has to focus and needs to hang up. A “trail” is part of the clue, and the Monon Trail is right across the street, so she’s headed there. My phone rings again. It’s Sean.
“I’ve hit your sister with a brick! She’s lying on the Trail! Nothing is standing in my way!”
Good grief. Those two couldn’t find their way out of a paper bag. They walked by the jewelry multiple times before someone else found it. And, they were the first ones there. I was disappointed in both of them, shaking my head in disbelief.
Days 11-12 : Erin and I were dressed and ready to go well before the 9:30am clue. We were in our car by 9:20am, with the engine running. Some days, I had my laptop set up in the front seat, it’s internet capability being suctioned from my phone as a mobile hotspot, iPad at the ready, posted at the entrance of my neighborhood. We were ready to dart north, east, south, or west. Each time, Erin packed her Spyglass, map and bandanna. She was so excited to be out looking for treasure with Mommy! Our searches took us to every nook and cranny of the city…and beyond. We saw places and things in our city that we never knew existed. We browsed through bushes, trees, parking lots, beautiful parks. I googled incessantly. I spent many an hour on the phone with Laura in Arizona, my sister, and my 70 year old mother, playing from home. I racked my brain all day and night when prizes went undiscovered into the night, and into the next day. I met some wonderful people when we all converged on the same spot, and we congratulated each other sincerely when one of us found the jewelry.
By Day 13, I had to throw in the towel. My son had a Dr’s appointment when the clue came out at 9:30am. I wasn’t playing. But, Laura was. I drove Dylan back to school, and was headed home with Erin. Laura got the clue right away and was sending me fragmented text messages. Fragmented to me, anyway, because I hadn’t even seen the clue and didn’t know what she was talking about. I pulled over to the side of the road.
The Clue: “Feb. 13th: Climb, Hop and Navigate your way through a tunnel and slide as you play all day.”
As we had come to expect, if certain words are capitalized, you can’t ignore that. Laura insisted it was at the Community Health Network sponsored playground in Hamilton Town Center. I couldn’t ignore her pleas. I promptly headed towards the interstate, and drove straight there. I told Erin, “As soon as we park, we are RUNNING to the playground, ok? Then, search for treasure everywhere!!”. Well, she ran straight to the slide and started playing. She left all thoughts of treasure behind, because in her mind she struck gold with the playground.
A man stepped out of Noodles & Co.
“You lookin’ for jewelry?”
I answered, “SURE AM!”
He said, “Well, it’s not here. People have already been here looking.”
I happily nodded, and kept on searching. I knew it was there.
I searched the entire vicinity and playground. I finally stopped in my tracks and focused on the slides. I checked under one: nope. I had to duck to get under the other one. There, wedged in a small crevice, was the silver package with the bright, red bow. This time, I wasn’t going to get it wrong.
“Erin, come over here, honey. Do you see the treasure anywhere under here?”
We were standing under the playground slide. I was turned away from the jewelry, feigning to look all around.
“MOM-MMEEEEEE, I SEE THE TREASURE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Her eyes so wide, the excitement dancing all over her face. She reached for it, but it was wedged so tightly, I helped her get it out. We sneaked it into her jacket, and took off in a sprint to the car. The same man from Noodles & Co was yelling to me, asking if we’d found it. I smiled, and waved, and we kept running. We got inside the van and locked the doors. I let her peel off the bow, and tear open the wrapping paper. I was dying to see what was inside. We pulled out a pair of beautiful ‘Stephen Webster Superstud earrings, retail value $350’. She was beside herself for finding the treasure all on her own. It was a moment she, nor I, will ever forget. I finally got it right the second time around.
Funny thing is, I’m not even a jewelry person. However, I do still have the Colts horseshoe around my neck. It’s simple, beautiful, and I’ve fallen in love with it. More importantly, I just had an absolute blast for two weeks looking for treasure with my daughter, no matter what we found….or didn’t find.
On a recent trip to pick up her brother from school, she was “reading” aloud from a magazine in the backseat. Here is just a bit of what I caught, in a very careful, whispered tone:
“When you are looking for treasure, be sure to look everywhere outside. It could be up in the treeeeeees, it could be down on the grounnnnd, it could be by a rock, you just have to keep on looking and don’t ever, ever give up……”