Some people think of it as the chance of a lifetime and will scrounge up their last cents from meager paychecks to make sure they buy their daily fix. A few people believe that it is just a fun game and will occasionally throw away a dollar for a scratch-off ticket whenever the mood hits them. Other people call it “the poor man’s gamble” and will shake their heads over the media hoopla when the winnings reach an incredibly high number.
I’m talking about the lottery - - a state-run bingo game where proceeds go to help senior citizens, although they never elaborate in the commercials on what type of help it is. I’m writing on the topic because a very talented author wrote a very entertaining book about someone winning it. This got me thinking about my own life and this addicting contest.
Yes, for some of us it can be an addiction, like nicotine or reading the latest poll results for the presidential race. When the clock chimes at the seventh hour, they hurriedly change the tv channel to watch the newest old person who has the honor of picking out the numbers. With eyes glued to the ricocheting small balls, they eagerly listen while hoping to be the lucky person who might get all that moolah, dineros, the all-mighty $, whichever phrase you want to use.
I know of someone who was addicted to the lotto.
I’m not sure when he first got involved in it. I do know that he spent over 30 years believing he could somehow “beat the system” - like it was a rigged parlor game. He carried plastic bags filled with written-down numbers from past lottery games, spanning years, which he would compare by date in search of an obvious pattern. Calenders, old lotto tickets, and scraps of paper showed every possible digit combination as if he was trying to decipher the locks on the local bank vault. At 1:00 in the morning, this man would sit at the kitchen table poring over his notes. Then he would fill out his 10 pink sheets so he could stop by the convenience store after work to purchase his tickets. At the most, I believe he might have won a grand total of $500 over the following years.
I never understood his obsession for the game, especially with his views concerning time and money. This same person wouldn’t shell out one dime to waste on new work gloves and would rather wrap duct tape around the tattered remains of his old pair. He never spent time with his kids. He never bought presents for holidays, birthdays, or anniversaries. To spend any money or effort on such trivial issues such as his family was sheer lunacy in his opinion. This man had to be the stingiest person on the planet, except when it involves the lottery.
I couldn’t begin to tell you how much he spent on tickets. You can try to do the calculations yourself: cost per ticket for 5-10 tickets, per lotto day for 30 years. When you figure out the number, let me know. Then think to yourself.
Was it worth it?
Maybe I’ll ask my father that question. But only if I can get his attention away from his lottery tickets. After 30 years, he has to take a break someday.