For another year, GISHWHES is over.
In case you’re unfamiliar, GISHWHES is The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, started by Misha Collins.
The best way I can possibly sum up what this means is to tell you how it ended. I’d just worked a double, and I got home feeling wired even before I pounced on our Team WAWDGISHWHESTFQ* group chat to while away the final hours of GISHWHES. As a team, we started going through the list to make sure we’d submitted our items and flailed enough at the ones that had escaped our notice (you try keeping up with nearly 200 submissions and fifteen teammates while working a full schedule and covering yourself with syrup). And at 1:30 in the morning, an hour and a half before the hunt was supposed to end, we discovered an item that had been released into the wild and no one had snatched up.
ITEM 90: IMAGE. Gingerbread Villages are always so cute and quaint. Make a gingerbread village that shows urban blight: needle exchanges, prostitution, heavy police presence, etc. 97 points.
I could do that. There was a 24-hour Harris Teeter in Rockville. I COULD DO THAT. The item was worth too much not to try. I jumped in my car and zoomed away to Rockville. I got there at 2 am with only an hour before the hunt would end.
And I COULD NOT FIND GINGERBREAD. I combed the cookie aisle and found ginger snaps, but no gingerbread. I hunted through the international aisle hoping for some good luck there. Nothing.
Panicking in the Messenger app on my mobile, my team threw out helpful suggestions. I finally compiled a stack of various ginger biscuits and graham crackers and frosting and bolted to the register.
The only problem is, at 2 am on a Friday night, there’s only one register open. And there was a woman with a full trolley in front of me. FULL. I no sooner got to the register but realized this was going to be a problem. Because she had a veritable mountain of coupons in her hand and was arguing with the single cashier (a diffident sort of woman with earbuds dangling around her neck) over the sale price of about five items. During this exchange, a man next to her waved his receipt in the air and complained loudly that the cashier hadn’t given HIM the sale price of his first item. It was a whopping $.50 difference.
I was standing there, arms full (I didn’t get a basket), wondering how it was possible that the two most difficult customers decided independently to go shopping at the exact same time in the middle of the night.
And the cashier called for a price check on the PA system.
“Is there any way to ring me up while you’re waiting for your colleague?” I asked, not particularly hopeful.
“No,” she said bluntly.
Well, okay then. By then it was ten after two, and I had less than 50 minutes to drive home (a 15 minute drive) and assemble a gingerbread slum.
Finally someone showed up to the front, and miracle of miracles, the cashier asked him to ring me up (a queue was forming behind me). I hurriedly paid and ran out of the store.
Once I was in my car, I realized how that must have looked to the others. Woman with disheveled hair (I’d showered after work and hadn’t dried my hair) in leggings and an oversized sweatshirt with an arm full of ginger biscuits and frosting, tapping her foot impatiently and clearly aggravated.
“VRY SRS GINGERBREAD EMRGNCY MUST FLY KTHXBAI”
And fly I did — and got a speed camera ticket on the way home.
I got home at 20 after 2 and started construction, much to the bewilderment of my cats.
I made a gingerbread shanty town, complete with dog poo on the pavement and gingerbread prostitutes..and a gingerbread man shooting up behind a table covered in lines of coke. (Okay, cream cheese frosting and pink himalayan salt, but still.)
My teammates cheered me on and submitted our gingerbread shanty town with minutes to spare (or so we thought until finding out later that due to GISHbot issues, they’d extended the submission time, womp womp). 3 am rolled around, and we all sat there in a haze of WE DID IT.
From candy bikinis to human Matryoshka dolls, fighter pilot rolls to grandmas mud wrestling — GISHWHES was quite the week.
I learned a lot about myself. First, that I’d rather be covered from head to toe in syrup wearing only a bikini and trying to give out free hugs than fully clothed on a Metro car trying to get commuters to sing Over the River and Through the Woods.
I learned that I could be a budding candy swimwear designer and that rainbow Twizzlers are more suitable to candy couture than actual eating.
I learned that 15 people scattered around the world can not only accomplish some spectacular things, but can do so lovingly, supporting one another, laughing with one another, enjoying one another, and without malice or spite. Our team had virtually no drama, and instead of anyone complaining about others “not pulling their weight,” everyone just jumped in to help, support, and show kindness. One of our teammates had a pretty big heath scare during the hunt. Another had to leave to go on vacation. We all did what we could and ended the week having achieved more items than we expected.
And to top it all off, NASA gave us all a lovely surprise at the end of the hunt. One of the biggest point items was to get something GISHWHES-related in space — with bonus points awarded if an astronaut were in the picture. I think all of us were sure William Shatner’s team would be the only one to achieve this, but NASA, instead of giving any one team an advantage, tweeted this:
— NASA (@NASA) August 9, 2014
They showed they could play along and support GISHWHES — and later told Misha that they might form a team themselves next year. Award for Coolest Government Agency goes to….
So after this week, there’s one thing for certain: I’ll see all you Gishers next year, and WAWDGISHWHESTFQ will be back in action. If you’d like to see the full gamut of our items, check out our team Tumblr! (And make sure you click through it all, because they’re in reverse order, and you know you want to see Jessie Devine’s BAMFy grandmas mud wrestling for Item 1.)
*GISHWHES is about nothing if not awesome acronyms. This one stands for Wine and Winchesters Does GISHWHES: Team Free Quill.**
**Team Free Quill is a play on Supernatural dubbing Dean, Sam, and Cas as Team Free Will for going against the plans of Heaven and the angels to fight Lucifer.