Nothing quite like a good Chinese auction

I love a good Chinese auction, and I have occasion to be in the midst of many of them in my newspaper-related outings and adventures.

Nearly any group or organization having a fundraiser these days has a Chinese auction.

And that, of course, would be in addition to having the tried-and-true, time-honored 50-50 drawing.

That everyone understands. You buy a ticket, you have a chance to win money. Pure and simple. Half the pot goes to the fundraising group, half the pot goes to the winner.

Personally, I steer clear of these because (a.) History tells me I’m not going to win money and (b.) if by some bizarre quirk of fate that I do, I’m not about to donate my half back so everyone can think oh, she is so generous and wonderful.

I’m really not, and besides, I don’t want to start any new bad habits.

I will, however, invest in tickets for a Chinese auction, which many people in the we-don’t-do-functions crowd don’t understand. It’s a mystery to them, much like the quarter auction that involves paddles, numbered ping pong balls and 25-cent pieces.

The bottom line, though, is just forking over some money in hopes of winning some stuff you might not necessarily need but suddenly must have.

Chinese auctions typically offer a nice variety of things all on display on a long table or two, with a little bag or bucket in front of them.

That’s where you put your ticket in hopes that ultimately yours will be drawn. Oh the anticipation and possibilities.

Sometimes you have to write your name on the back of the ticket, which is why God invented all those address labels you get in the mail, to save you from getting writer’s cramp.

You can put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak, or drop one ticket here, another ticket there. After all, it is a game of chance where miracles can happen, generally to other people, but hey.

On occasions when Better Half has gone with me to events where there are these Chinese auctions, he offers his two cents on what I should try for — restaurant gift certificates or gas cards — and pass up on centerpieces or dishes.

He also laments the absence of guy Chinese auction stuff. How about a basket with an Allen wrench and some duct tape. Yeah!

If you think a group of people can’t be quiet and pay attention, just announce that you’re about to read the last three digits of the winning tickets for a pot of money or Chinese auction items.

Did somebody just drop a pin?

Some people are super lucky at these, and some tables of people are super lucky, too. Everyone’s winning, which is great … if it’s your table.

Some of these Chinese auctions don’t require that the winners be present. You can go about your business and return home to discover a message is on your answering machine.

You’ve won something.

Miracles do happen.

(Kiaski, a resident of Richmond, is a staff columnist and community editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at jkiaski@heraldstaronline.com.)


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