Fanfare for the Common Man

  • Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Playing the Lottery
Last week I succumbed. I caved to the temptation. I jumped into the fray. I bought my first ever lottery ticket. I stood in line with others just as hopeful as I on a Friday night spending money they donít have on lots more money they wonít win. For the record, I didnít win. I didnít even come close. If you want to know what numbers werenít drawn in the Megamillions Lottery, check out my lottery ticket. Basically, all of them werenít chosen. I had 35 numbers in all, 7 sets of 5, and none of them were drawn. I played to ensure that somebody else would win, and they did, someone out of Maryland. I noticed something, though, in the madness I witnessed around town at the various lottery places. I didnít see any rich people. Why is it that rich people donít play the lottery? Why is it just us poor people? The ones who play are those who can least afford it. Like me. I had no business dropping nine bucks on lottery tickets Ö and I was one of the lightweights of the night. I saw people spending sixty and seventy dollars on the assortment of lottery tickets. Iíve seen it ever since the lottery first began for me back in Georgia some 25 years ago, give or take. My kids were little. I thought about playing, but I couldnít see blowing a dollar on a ticket that wouldnít win when I could instead use that money on the real lottery ticket items like disposable diapers. I felt like Charlie buying a Willie Wonka candy bar in hopes of finding the one remaining Golden Ticket. I agree, though, you will never win if you donít play. The only thing is Iím the exception to that rule. I donít win. Ever. Actually the only thing I seem to win at is losing. I wonder how Rain Man would do at the picking the lottery. Maybe I should have asked Dustin Hoffman. I donít gamble. I did play the dogs once when I was playing baseball in Florida. I won $87 on a box quinella bet, and donít ask me what that is, because I didnít know then and I still donít know now. I just know I won and wanted to quit playing baseball, quit school, and bet on dog races for a living. Yes, Iíd be living in a refrigerator box under the Interstate overpass in six months. Still, while I didnít win, I know why they play. Itís the feeling of hope. When I bought that lottery ticket I know there was hope Ė a microcosmically minute chance I might win, and I thought about what it would feel like to be financially set for the rest of my life. I thought about calling my kids and saying, ďHey guess what? Your dad struck it big.Ē Then I thought about how I would be on my way to the lottery office to redeem my winning ticket, step off the curb and get hit by a bus. One eventís happening would make the other a certainty, just like 1+1=2. Dan wins lottery then Dan gets hit by bus. In the Game of Life some days you are the windshield and other days you are the bug. That day I would surely be the bug. For a sure-fire winning lottery ticket, this slip of paper makes a good $9 book† ††

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