Thursday, September 19, 2013

The World is as Strange as You Make it (Medals)

Bizarre though it is to admit, my life did change with the realization that I could just buy medals at Value Village.

I mean, it wasn’t a “things will never be the same” moment, but still, I lived very differently once I realized that resource was available to me.

It shouldn’t have been a surprise to learn; I’d already known that kids win medals after all. Soccer medals, hockey medals, participation medals for school events and the like. And then they grow up, and find they have no interest in such nick-knacks as they age into adulthood and adjust their priorities and corresponding definitions of success.

Silver and bronze medals, mostly, first prizes people do tend to keep, but still, medals. Actual, you-won-a-prize medals, on ribbons to wear around your neck, Olympic style. For less than a buck apiece.

Don’t bother looking for them there now, though, they’re long gone. I bought them all, looted every Value Village in Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg over the course of one long tour. By the end I had more than a hundred total, in a box back at home.

And yes, it changed my life.

In the two years that followed the initial revelation, I used medals for everything. Where you might sarcastically say “what do you want, a friggin’ medal?” I’d actually have one on hand, and when somebody legitimately impressed me I’d respond… the same way, actually, but with a better attitude. I admit, this caused no small amount of confusion as to the spirit behind a particular medal, but I couldn’t resist giving them out, I loved the process too much to stop myself. It was too sturdy a bit not to use, and one that consistently took people by surprised. A little pomp, a little circumstance, they were the perfect props for any occasion. For two solid years it was my favorite running gag.

Good times…

But all good times must end, and eventually my supply did run out. And, with sadness that it was ending but gladness that it had happened, I had to retire the joke once and for all. I’d looted every Value Village, run the bit into the ground, and there was no need to try to drag it out. I presented the last medal to myself; for successful execution of the concept, put it in a drawer, and went on with my life, medal free.

And, while sometimes I miss having two or three medals in my pocket should the need for them arise, I know that even without them there are plenty of ways to make the world weirder, wilder and more wonderful, if only you know where to look for them.

For example, have you ever stopped to really consider in depth the implications of the simple fact that bakeries are willing to write literally anything you ask them to on top of your cake?

Because I have. And I admit, my cake budget has gone through the roof…


  1. While my kids have collected many participation medals and certificates, I've never thought about using them as a surprise to bring an unexpected smile to someone's face. Very neat idea!

  2. I was expecting him to stop by Value Village again only to find the very medals he'd given out. :) Glad it didn't take that expected route Chris. This is a fun one!

  3. Cute story. I like the way you ended it. A lot of stories would end better with cake. ;-)