Orange shovel
Credit: self

chest without ballsCredit: selfI grew up in the 1980s, and no childhood was complete without watching The Goonies, The Princess Bride, and reading any number of treasure and pirate-themed books. I think this influenced my love for treasure hunting (shopping), and using maps to find my way despite the current fad for being directed by an electronic voice to a destination. I still love the movies and books from my childhood, and I would thrill to find a map that would have the telltale “X marks the spot” where a chest is laden with all kinds of gold and spoils. I would valiantly fight off pirates, go through horrifying swamps filled with lightning sand and R.O.U.S’s (rodents of unusual size) to have the adventure and a modern Indiana Jones story.

While I don’t expect to come upon a map hidden behind the frame of an old picture in my attictriple shovelCredit: self any time soon, I was inspired to give a taste of that excitement for someone else. My first step was to find a suitable treasure chest that would hold up to the elements. The solution was a plastic bowl with a lid I acquired from the food storage section from my local grocery store. At the same store, I found three oversized plastic shovels on clearance from the "Easter" sale, but I needed to find the appropriate baubles to put in the treasure chests.

On a different grocery store trip, I was looking for thistle seed to fill my outside bird feeders, and I passed by an aisle full of the perfect trinkets to fill my containers. I added bubbles, Hot Wheels vehicles, and eraser cars to my cart and went on my way. 

treasure chestsCredit: selfI wanted to add a tiny sweet treat too, and I thought jelly beans were a wonderful solution because they wouldn’t melt on a hot day. Jelly Belly beans are my favorite kind of jelly beans, and I found a huge variety of choices and settled on the reasonably priced shrink wrapped Hello Kitty boxes.

My treasure chests still seemed to be missing something, actual treasure! Using some plastic Easter eggs and the loose change from my coin bowl I tossed in quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies and gave each container four real treasure-filled eggs, and there was just enough room to improve the contents with a soft and squishy ball.

My final preparation was to make a sign that would alert people that there was a treasure to beyellow park farCredit: self found. After a fruitless online search for the right kind of look I wanted for the sign, I went the K.I.S.S. (keep it simple sweetheart) route and made my own complete with arrow pointing to the place to dig, and message that it was a random act of kindness. I printed the signs on cardstock and taped them to one of the many dowels I have rattling around in my craft drawer in my desk.

I choose a Sunday morning to bury the booty because most people choose that day to sleep in, and I wanted to remain anonymous as possible, much like the Dread Pirate Roberts. I went to a park near my house and used the oversized shovel to dig in the bark dust. I learned immediately that I needed a sturdier tool to get deep enough to be able to cover the containers. I battled satisfactorily and made a hole sufficient to camouflage the vessel, but I knew if I wanted to be fast enough to escape detection in the two remaining parks, I needed to return home for a trowel. Plunging the sign into the disheveled ground, I quickly snapped a picture and returned home for ground tool reinforcements.

Car floor shovelCredit: SelfAt the next park, I was fast rewarded for replacing my digging tool, and I fashioned a space ready to hide the fun prize. As I stabbed the sign into the ground and placed the shovel artfully for the photo op, I heard someone playing on the basketball court nearby. I scuttled away as “naturally” as possible and drove to the final park for my covert pirate mission.

Time steadily crept on, and I was worried that there would already be kids playing at the lastPark closeCredit: Self park. The playground was barren, and I parked, a little too far away as it turned out, and made my way to the center of the play place. The ground was stiff from the hot sun and very unyielding even with my best efforts to dig. I heard an older man walking an adjacent path talking on his phone, and when he saw me, I could hear his voice tense with concern. I believe he thought I was up to no good and lingered until I was finally able to thrust in the sign and shovel and take a picture. I smiled in an attempt to look innocuous as I walked back to my car and turned to take one final shot. He briskly walked to the place I had just abandoned to see what kind of mischief I was about. The walk back to my get-away-car seemed to stretch on forever, and I expected every moment for the suspecting man to make a citizen’s arrest, but my trek was anticlimactically silent.

Park farCredit: SelfThe best and worst part of any kindness caper I execute is that I never know how the story ends, who found the treasure? Did the doubting man help someone find the booty? Did I make someone’s day today? In the end, it sure made my day, and I expect this two-eyed-pirate may return some day to wreak happy havoc in the future.