On the way to work I was listening to my favorite morning show, Bob and Sheri, out of Charlotte. They were talking to a caller who had recently lost his mortgage business when the economy turned sour. His wife, who he had been married to for 16 years, decided it was a good time to divorce him. In front of the judge, she said, “Your honor, I just don’t want to be poor.” The soon-to-be ex-husband laughed and told him that he wasn’t real happy about being poor either. That was a Friday. On Monday, the bankrupt man bought a lottery ticket. It was a good one. He got a check for over a million dollars. The wife called him on Tuesday and said she thought she had made a terrible mistake. Indeed. He got a good chuckle out of his story when telling it to Bob and Sheri. He actually seemed like a really nice guy with a robust sense of humor. He harbored no ill will toward the former love of his life, but he had to decline her offer to reconcile. Boy, that had to feel good.
I’ve always loved the idea of the lottery. I know it’s not a responsible way to invest your hard-earned money, but there’s something magical and romantic about buying a ticket. Anyone could win. The Mega Millions jackpot does not discriminate. It’s a great novel in the making. Who will it be and how will they spend their winnings? WIll they still be rich in five years? Will the money enhance their lives or make it more difficult? So many stories to tell. It reminds me of Charlie Bucket and that last golden ticket. It might take only one chocolate bar to find the coveted prize. You always hope it happens to the nice guy. Of course, there are a few negative connotations with lotteries. For example, I’m very not fond of that troubling short story, The Lottery, we all had to read in high school. With the exception of a few Stephen King novels I started and never finished, this book haunted me for the longest time. Anyway, I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of the lottery. The good kind, that is.
Today I bought some lottery tickets to give away. I stuck out like a sore thumb in the line at the gas station. It was like ordering dinner from an unfamililar restaurant with limitless options. “What kind of salad dressing? Bottled water or tap? Well done or medium rare? On the side or on top? Decaf or regular? One check or two?…” Not only did I not know what the answers should be, I didn’t even understand the questions. “Quick pick? Cash lotto? Box bet?” Sigh. I dunno. I went the coward’s way and just purchased your basic “instant game” tickets. Same magical effect, less confusion.
Now, who was I going to give the tickets to? Strangers? Acquaintances? Bill collectors? In the end, I decided to distribute them amongst a group of friends I endearingly refer to as “The Playground Parents”. Every day, if the weather is nice, a group of us (three moms and one hip dad) pick up the kids from the school gym and make our way to the playground for a spell. The kids love the extra play time and it gives us parents some time to talk to other grown-ups before we shuffle home to make the dinner, check the homework, do the laundry, pay the bills, draw the baths, and read the bedtime stories. We like to hang out under the shady canopy by the “little playground”. (We’ve reached the age where we avoid the sun). When we all sit in a row cross-legged against the brick wall, it reminds me of the scene in Say Anything where all the guys are hanging out at the Gas & Sip on a Saturday night. Why? “By choice, man. By choice.”So, this is the crew I decided to share the lottery tickets with. When I handed them out, the hip dad paused and said, “So, is this an ethics test? What am I supposed to do if I win something?” Let your conscience be your guide. Turned out to be a moot point as nobody had a winning ticket…this time. But they could have, and they might one day.