Dialing for dollars …

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Thad Bruner isn’t given much to philosophical musings. But then, winning $10,000 has a way of altering a man’s outlook.

Bruner is an accountant at Bush Hog, where he has worked for the past 36 years. He enjoys his work, despite having to spend his days cooped up in &uot;the Windowless Wonder&uot; &045;&045; as the building that houses the company’s administrative offices is known.

Bruner’s daughter, Heather Bruner, works for Momentum, a Birmingham-based provider of telecommunications services.

Not long ago, Heather cajoled her dad into switching phone companies and becoming a Momentum customer.

Bruner isn’t sure how many times he’s switched his phone service in recent months, but when his daughter urged him to change phone companies yet again, he didn’t put up much of a fight. &uot;Switch me over, Heather,&uot; he told her.

Unbeknownst to Bruner, that moment of parental weakness qualified him for Momentum’s &uot;$150,000 Tele-Friend and Win Sweepstakes&uot; contest.

The contest is intended to attract new customers, something Momentum has been doing with increasing regularity lately.

The company now boasts 20,000 customers in nine Southeastern states and is still growing.

Back in March, Bruner became the second of what will eventually be 15 new Momentum customers to win $10,000. Admits Bruner, &uot;I never even knew I was in a contest, to be honest with you.&uot;

Has he ever gambled before?

Bought a lottery ticket?

Won any other contests?

Asked whether he has had any profound philosophical insights into the meaning of life since striking it rich, Bruner hesitates for only a moment or so before offering this pearl of wisdom: &uot;I found out your spirits can sure be lifted when somebody gives you $10,000.&uot;

Still he’s not what you’d call giddy about the whole affair. Perhaps that’s because $10,000 no longer goes quite as far as it used to.

The accountant in him feels compelled to point out that Uncle Sam skims about 30 percent right off the top. And what with the price of gas being what it is these days, he doesn’t expect his newfound windfall to wreak any major changes to his modest lifestyle.

That hasn’t stopped colleagues in the Windowless Wonder from poking a little good-natured fun at his sudden brush with the life of the rich and famous, though.

Bruner waves him away with feigned irritability. When the co-worker is safely out of earshot, the man who can’t say no to telemarketers leans forward and confides, &uot;Ever since they found out I won they want to borrow &045;&045; no, they want me to give them &045;&045; money! Well, tough!&uot;

In truth, Bruner considers himself a blessed man, but it has little to do with his unexpectedly winning $10,000. He counts himself fortunate to live in Selma and to have spent nearly 40 years at a company that afforded him meaningful work and his family a decent standard of living.

He reflects, &uot;Most everybody down here has worked here for 20 years or more, which speaks well of Bush Hog as a place to work.&uot;

When the weather warms up, Bruner plans to take his family down to the coast and blow the $10,000 &045;&045; or at least the greater portion of anything Uncle Sam doesn’t lay claim to first.

Thad Bruner isn’t given much to philosophical musings. But then, winning $10,000 has a way of altering a man’s outlook.

Bruner is an accountant at Bush Hog, where he has worked for the past 36 years. He enjoys his work, despite having to spend his days cooped up in &uot;the Windowless Wonder&uot; &045;&045; as the building that houses the company’s administrative offices is known.

Bruner’s daughter, Heather Bruner, works for Momentum, a Birmingham-based provider of telecommunications services.

Not long ago, Heather cajoled her dad into switching phone companies and becoming a Momentum customer.

Bruner isn’t sure how many times he’s switched his phone service in recent months, but when his daughter urged him to change phone companies yet again, he didn’t put up much of a fight. &uot;Switch me over, Heather,&uot; he told her.

Unbeknownst to Bruner, that moment of parental weakness qualified him for Momentum’s &uot;$150,000 Tele-Friend and Win Sweepstakes&uot; contest.

The contest is intended to attract new customers, something Momentum has been doing with increasing regularity lately.

The company now boasts 20,000 customers in nine Southeastern states and is still growing.

Back in March, Bruner became the second of what will eventually be 15 new Momentum customers to win $10,000. Admits Bruner, &uot;I never even knew I was in a contest, to be honest with you.&uot;

Has he ever gambled before?

Bought a lottery ticket?

Won any other contests?

Asked whether he has had any profound philosophical insights into the meaning of life since striking it rich, Bruner hesitates for only a moment or so before offering this pearl of wisdom: &uot;I found out your spirits can sure be lifted when somebody gives you $10,000.&uot;

Still he’s not what you’d call giddy about the whole affair. Perhaps that’s because $10,000 no longer goes quite as far as it used to.

The accountant in him feels compelled to point out that Uncle Sam skims about 30 percent right off the top. And what with the price of gas being what it is these days, he doesn’t expect his newfound windfall to wreak any major changes to his modest lifestyle.

That hasn’t stopped colleagues in the Windowless Wonder from poking a little good-natured fun at his sudden brush with the life of the rich and famous, though.

Bruner waves him away with feigned irritability. When the co-worker is safely out of earshot, the man who can’t say no to telemarketers leans forward and confides, &uot;Ever since they found out I won they want to borrow &045;&045; no, they want me to give them &045;&045; money! Well, tough!&uot;

In truth, Bruner considers himself a blessed man, but it has little to do with his unexpectedly winning $10,000. He counts himself fortunate to live in Selma and to have spent nearly 40 years at a company that afforded him meaningful work and his family a decent standard of living.

He reflects, &uot;Most everybody down here has worked here for 20 years or more, which speaks well of Bush Hog as a place to work.&uot;

When the weather warms up, Bruner plans to take his family down to the coast and blow the $10,000 &045;&045; or at least the greater portion of anything Uncle Sam doesn’t lay claim to first.