Wednesday, January 13, 2016


My father played Powerball.  But not until the jackpot was, in his estimation, worth the drive over the border to New York State (because Jersey didn't sell Powerball tickets then), where he would also visit the Rockland Bakery, coming home with a half-eaten loaf of fresh Italian or challah or raisin bread, danish, and if I was lucky, a scone.  This motivating figure was something over $50 million, so it wasn't often that he went to buy tickets. Still, he had his red-ink pencil-bubbled-in card--a study in numerology, some combination of birthdays and anniversaries and other dates whose importance we would never know--which he brought with him on each trip, as if he were a professional gambler.

I often wondered why he would drive the 20 minutes to New York to buy a lottery ticket for a jackpot that was $50 million when it wasn't worth driving there for, say, five million.  But my father was not a man you could cross-examine.

We never did win the lottery.

My colleagues all bought a ticket today, and assumed I'd had, too.  I hadn't.

"But when you start thinking about all of the things you'd do with a billion dollars," they reasoned, "you feel happy."

And maybe that's exactly why I didn't buy a ticket.

Not because I don't want to be happy, but because I don't need to buy disappointment.

Sure, it's entirely possible  that I'd win.  But if I don't?

Maybe I've spent one too many hours of my life dreaming and even planning about the probable futures that become impossible after all.  I don't know if that makes me a pessimist, a realist, or a curmudgeon.  But one thing is certain: it will never make me a lottery winner.

Did you buy a lottery ticket?
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  1. I never buy lottery tickets for similar reasons that you don't, I think. Winning the lottery is very unlikely, and I'd rather base my happiness and hopes for the future on something that is more probable and within my control. Also I believe financial security and wealth begin in one's mind and hoping for a lottery win to resolve money issues us a poor strategy.

  2. There was a study a few years ago about lives of former lottery einners. What was striking was that their lives were basically the same as before they won the lottery. It suggests changing one's life requires more than money.

    I think it's fun to dream about a different life. But I'm also one who tends to save and build the foundation to make that change happen. So the lottery is stressful for me. But many who play don't have my nature.

  3. We bought tickets. $10 worth on the last 2 drawings. Just as a way to throw out hat in the ring and nothing more. I tend not to think about what I would do if I did win, because of the disappointment you speak of when I don't win.

  4. No, for the reasons you state, and also I just hate throwing money away. I don't think its fun to daydream about something that is very unlikely to happen if it serves to make you more dissatisfied with reality. I like my daydreams to be incremental & achievable!

  5. I didn't -- mostly because, perhaps I am an anomaly, but I would be really depressed if I won. I don't like sudden anything: good or bad. The idea of becoming a billionaire overnight without any warning freaks me out.

    Josh bought one ticket. I think this is his second lottery ticket ever? I don't know why he did it. But I was dreading the drawing because I was so scared that we would win. I really feel a sense of relief knowing there are winners out there.

  6. I did buy a ticket! Because my teller at the bank yesterday morning asked me if I had. So, I walked next door to the gas station to purchase one. I promised the cashier that if I won, I would send her and her mother, who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer, to Aruba for vacation. I really wanted to be able to send them - but I won't be. Next time?

  7. No ticket. Same reasons. We are peas in a pod.

  8. We have fun talking about what we'd do with the money without buying tickets! And it gives us ideas for the money we do have.

  9. I bought lottery tickets every week for years while I was working. There was a ticket kiosk just downstairs from where I worked, so it got to be a habit. I won a lot of free tickets, $5 & $10 here & there. The most I ever won was about $80 (4 out of 6 numbers). But I don't think I've bought one since I left work. I might buy one now & then when there's a big jackpot, but spending that kind of money regularly is not a habit I want to get back into now that I am on a pension. ;)


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