At work, they have pools, and schemes, and elaborate buy-ins. They like to share their pain, because we’re all in it together, and no one wants to be left behind. I prefer to go my own way; I don’t want to share.
I buy my tickets on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings. I grab them on my way to work the night shift, and then on my way home from Mass. This is as close as I can come to getting them right after the drawings, which take place on Wednesday and Saturday night at ten. This ensures that I have the absolute maximum amount of time with tickets in hand. The longest possible shelf life of tickets stored in wallet. The longest bit of time I can hold out hope before the inevitable rejection. I mean, who wins the lottery.
We’re not stupid. We know we won’t win it. We’re not buying a chance to win a million dollars; we’re buying a couple days worth of dreams. Sometimes I won’t even check the ticket; I’d rather keep the illusion alive. Day after day, it’s the same old thing, 8 hours, 10 hours, 12 hours on the line. It doesn’t really matter.
I’m one of the lucky ones. I don’t have a mortgage, a wife, or kids. I don’t have a car note or much of a drug habit. I like cheap beer and dive bars. I am the exception to the rule, in that I am not trapped. I put in my time as a means to an end. This is not my life. I’ll work here for a few months and move on. Off to the beach, off to the city, off to the Pacific, maybe to South America. Maybe to Detroit. But not today, nor tomorrow. Tomorrow is Wednesday, so I’ll drop another couple bucks on numbers to sit in my wallet. Numbers in the back pocket while I give another night of my life to the line in the bottling plant. Numbers in my pocket another night when I sneak up to the roof top to eat my lunch and dream about what comes next. Numbers in my pocket while I try to figure out what the fuck I am doing with myself.
The average man has a vague idea of what they’d do if they won the lottery. The average man at the bottling plant knows exactly what they’d do. They know how to avoid the taxes. They have a detailed plan that changes based on the amount won. They know to always take the cash option. They know that at the end of the day, they walk away with roughly one third of the jackpot after cash options and taxes. They know which island they’re headed to, and they know exactly how much everything costs. They know what makes them happy, down to the last detail, and they know that money can buy it. They’ve had the time to think it over. Day after miserable day on the line. Getting paid by the hour so that they can support their wives and kids and houses and cars and drug habits. Trapped by their lives, they dream of escape.
Because, at one time or another, we’re all desperate. Because there are moments when we’re all waiting to be saved.
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