When one of my readers condemned me to hell for a True story, it occurred to me that if she could send me to hell with the snap of her mind, why shouldn’t I have the power to counteract her evil intentions?
I should indeed, and the reaction from readers has been incredible: thousands and thousands and thousands of the cards have gone out, and they’re being passed around in every U.S. state, most Canadian provinces, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, Croatia, England, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, South Korea and Taiwan. You can get some for your family and friends too!
Where did the idea for the cards come from? Several years ago, I was talking with Cathie Walker, creator of the now-defunct Centre for the Easily Amused site, when she mentioned a new evil scheme she was working on.
I said “Ooooh: you’re going straight to hell for that one!” and Cathie retorted, “But wait, I have a Get Out of Hell card here in my purse!”
Oh my: what an idea! I immediately set out to design a real one to save her soul. Those were never made available to the public, however.
So when one of my readers condemned me to hell almost exactly two years later, it was updated to make a comment — and counteract the new threat. When they were offered to readers, they went wild for them.
Why a parody of the MONOPOLY® card, as opposed to something else? MONOPOLY® simulates the world of business — you win by making big bucks and bankrupting your opponents. You can get into big trouble while playing, like being sent to jail (sent directly to jail, without passing “Go” and without collecting $200)! That’s pretty bad — that $200 might have been the difference in winning the game. Yet you can get out of jail immediately, for “free,” if you’re lucky enough to have in your possession a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. But life is not as simple as what’s portrayed in the game: going to hell has to be the ultimate in “getting in trouble.”
Unlike in the board game, money can’t buy you out of hell. The “Get Out of Hell Free” card’s intent is to mock the triviality of the MONOPOLY® “Get Out of Jail Free” card — just as in the board game, if you’re in big trouble (and, according to certain humorless readers, the ultimate in “trouble” for me is hell!), you just slap down a card and waltz merrily away, leaving your opponent befuddled.
Obviously, no one thinks an orange parody card will really keep them from going to hell, should that be part of their beliefs, but people do get the joke: no matter whether your trouble is being sent to a board-game jail or hypocrites are telling you you’re going to hell for your “moral bankruptcy” (i.e., not believing the exact same thing they do), having the right card will set you free.
How to Get Some
Some Great Feedback from Customers
There have been some terrific notes included with the orders for GOOHF cards. Just a small selection:
Please send me 50 “Get Out of Hell Free” cards. I am the fire marshall for my town and desperately need to save a lot of firefighters. –William in Idaho
See? Even people who deal with fire every day need this extra protection. Don’t go thinking you can handle it on your own. If you’re not convinced, read the next one.
I know I’ll probably be doomed to hell just for buying these, but hey: I’ll have the card, right? Here’s $5.00 — I want to share with my friends. –Rev. Billy, Texas
Enclosed is a check for for 100 “Get Out of Hell Free” cards. Are there rules to this? Do I just use it once, when I get down there? Or do I have to hand one to my minister every time I feel a little heat? Can Catholics use it in place of confession? If I lose my card, but roll doubles, will that work instead? –Sarah, New York
All I know is, you have to have a subscription to This is True for it to work. If you don’t have one already, enter your email address in the spot on this page. But you’ll have to talk to your pastor, Sarah, to get the other details.
And if you don’t like his answer, try a different denomination. I hear Rev. Billy welcomes visitors at his church in Texas.
I would like one set of Get Out of Hell Free cards, to give as gifts. I have a bunch of friends with really twisted senses of humor for whom I never know how to shop. Thank you. –“J”, Illinois
Well, I was going to berate you for how cheap you are with your gifts, but then I realized: you just can’t put a price on someone’s salvation.
Please send 50 Get Out of Hell Free cards quickly. You’ve succeeded in bringing my family back together! At last, after all these years, it will finally be safe to visit my grandmother again. Thank you! –Nancy, Connecticut
It would be interesting to see the look on your grandma’s face when you hand her a card, telling her you got it to her Just In the Nick of Time.
I just solicited funds from my co-workers to sponsor me for a 150-mile bike ride for the national multiple sclerosis organization. To do so, I used a little “joke form” along the lines of /_/Yes, I’d love to do my bit for humanity for $___ or /_/No, I’m going straight to hell. Your “Get Out of Hell Free” cards will make a perfect gift for those who were generous enough to contribute! –Andrew, Massachusetts
Man: that’s more coercive than some churches!
Maybe I can attach one to my letter of resignation. I’m sure my boss will understand. –Rich, Connecticut
And since the cards can be reused, your boss can pass it along to his boss next week.
Please send me 20 Get Out of Hell Free cards immediately. Being a lawyer (involved with criminal defense), I will find these cards particularly useful. –Jane, Pennsylvania
You’re going to need more than 20 cards, Jane. A lot more. Which brings us to the last one:
I promise to send you $2 for cards ASAP — heck, I’ll send $10 for two — if you will PLEASE SEND THE CARDS NOW: one for me, and one for my husband. (He is being held in the same jail [as I am].) –Theresa, Inmate 558261, California.
I don’t think so.
Besides: these are Get Out of Hell Free cards, not Get Out of Jail Free cards. There’s a big difference, yaknow. As Admiral Hyman Rickover said, “If you are going to sin, sin against God, not the bureaucracy. God will forgive you but the bureaucracy won’t.”
- The whole story on my being condemned to hell. Includes the original story and reader reaction.
- Again, The “Get Out of Hell Free” products are not affiliated with, nor authorized, endorsed or licensed in any way, by Hasbro Corp, its affiliates or subsidiaries. It is a parody.
- Hasbro objected anyway! But our lawyers scared them away.