Thursday, March 29, 2007

Win Some, Lose Some

I waited in line for six minutes yesterday to buy milk and cream at the corner store. I timed it. Could have left. Didn’t. After my initial pissed off moment, I was curious. How long was this going to take?

Why the wait?

A very tiny old man was buying lottery tickets.

Lots of lottery tickets.

This old man’s attire was downright shabby. Now, perhaps he’s actually a millionaire with buckets of money stashed away and made this money buying lottery tickets.

I don’t think so.

A few of those minutes were spent trying to come up with the amount of money he owed. Wallet, pockets — he had to check everywhere.

And then he dropped some change. A penny. And was in a mini-panic looking for it.

I leaned over and picked up his penny for him. Not to speed things up but because that’s just the kind of thing I do. Hell, at one point I was going to give him two bucks so he could complete the transaction. I just hated to see him so flustered and short of money to buy his “dream.”

But that’s the thing. It’s not the wait that bothered me but that this old guy who seemed poor was spending his precious money on lottery tickets. He looked like he needed a good meal.

And maybe he’ll get one if he wins.

Which is highly unlikely.

I have nothing against lottery tickets. I’ll occasionally buy one myself for the fun of dreaming. The fun of dreaming. I would never spend my last few dollars for that dream.

And I find it so pathetic when I see people who are (perhaps) doing just that.

I finally made my purchase, left the store and headed for my car.

The old man was standing at the bus stop.

I’m not quite sure what my point is here. But that’s okay. It’s my blog. I’m entitled to ramble.

It was just sad to see, you know? Sad.


patricia said...

Yes. Sad. And what's even more sad is how our governemnt encourages these people to spend what little money they have so that they can 'live the dream'. And then our government, in all their brilliance, also spends our money on campaigns geared towards people addicted to gambling. Sheer lunacy. Just like the diet industry, really.

And now the news about the corruption with the OLG? Don't.Get.Me.Started. It's too damn early in the morning to blow a gasket.

I need another coffee...

The Guy Who Writes This said...

Lottery is also know as a stupid tax.

Anonymous said...

Very, very sad...but who am I to talk I have in the past spent my last 10 bucks on a pack of smokes unstead of a jug of milk and loaf of bread for the kids...let's just say I never want to be in that position again.

Beth said...

patricia: I didn't even bother getting into that whole Lottery Corporation thing. (He didn't know anything about it???)
But the timing - I see this old guy while I'm furious about that whole mess.

guy: It's also known as a tax on the poor. And the rich benefit. Sad, stupid and crazy.

coffee mom: I truly hope you never are. And you're right - judging others doesn't help, doesn't change things.

Jackie said...

Very sad ... but there is another way of looking at it. Seniors can be very isolated and lonely. Going out to buy a weekly lottery ticket may be an "outing" for him and provide the only contact with people that is available. As for the way he was dressed--shabby clothing and not caring about personal hygiene goes hand in hand with isolation and loneliness. He could be us in the not too distant future. As for the OLG, well what did we think - no corruption in the gambling world - on what planet would that be true?

oreneta said...

It is difficult to determine the right and wrong of the issue. The money from the foundations that lotteries support do in many ways make Canada a better place. I used to work in sailing for people with disabilities, and there are a fair number of folks out there getting some pretty great opportunities because of the lottery money. It is also voluntary...the guy has a fair level of deucation, even if he has left right after high-school.

Maybe the advertising of the lotteries is the problem...less sell???

I have to say that it is not only the rich that benifit from the funding that is provided by the lotteries...corruption though? No doubt about it.

That said, I haven'texactly anazysed the books, just I have seen some of the money go to good places.

Beth said...

jackie: Your attempts to make me feel "less sad" were somewhat successful. If that's what makes him happy, who am I to judge?
But, geez, I really don't want that to be a vision of my future! Scary.

oreneta: You're right - it's not just the rich who benefit - we all do. But stats show that those in the lower income bracket bear the brunt of this tax we all benefit from. I guess it's a matter of choice - and you can't take that away from anyone.
Maybe not promote it so much???

Princess Pointful said...

Lots of thoughtful comments.
I really don't understand the reasoning behind gambling of any kind. I guess I lack that thrill seeker gene. I have never even bought a lottery ticket.

I know... you can't win if you don't play....

John said...

Speaking as someone that's been on the line...and I really mean on the line...with the lottery there's just a chance that something will come good. Combine that with the "fairy tale" of winning the damn thing when you're that close to being's hard to resist.

Even if it's a chance in a million.

I think it might be called HOPE. And without it, the human race would be no more.

Sorry, maybe I've just had one of "those" evenings.

Dan said...

I agree that it's kind of sad, but he may actually be happy doing that. It may be one of his reasons for living. My dad died just before Christmas and left my mom, unable to drive, all alone. Her routine of buying rub-off lottery tickets is one of the few "hobbies" she still has. It costs her money, but she loves it.

Who knows. Perhaps the old guy is happy with this? But you're very sweet to consider that he might not be. You have a real heart.

Anonymous said...

Watching an old person spend their last dollar on a lottery ticket makes me all watching parents smoke around their babies and small kids.

Beth said...

princess pointful:
Oh, I'm a big gambler - I've been known to blow twenty bucks! And then I quit. No addiction here.

john: I understand the hope and and the dreaming - but this man just looked so old, tired and shabby. Maybe if he'd been smiling? Looked happy or excited?

dan: I hope it does make him happy. I'd be thrilled if he won - wouldn't that be something? Maybe I'd see him again all spruced up, smiling and buying more tickets.

trish: I'm still hoping it wasn't his last dollar. (Maybe I should have given him that two dollars?)

cipriano said...

As a fairly regular 6/49 player, and [I might add] an equally regular BIG LOSER, I agree that it should just be done for fun, without serious intentions of winning.
It shouldn't be done to the neglect of retirement planning!
However, I focus on the way this guy doddled.
Whether he was buying Lotto tickets or a bag of cat food... I find it very difficult sometimes to be in the back of the line while some elderly person at the front takes the entire last decade of their life to find a loony!
At the same time, I show them respect.... they are just not nearly as much in a hurry as we are, about anything, it seems.
Great blog!

Dorky Dad said...

Lottery: Dumb people tax.

That said, I do buy a scratch-off ticket now and then. That's fun. And I often win a couple of bucks, too.

Beth said...

cipriano: Well, there's that whole impatient waiting thing, too. I neglected to say in my post that between the old gent and myself there was a little old lady with a push cart and - dear god - one eye.
I just gave thanks for my (relatively) good health and age and let the time pass...

dorky dad: Rich, poor and in between - it's always fun to win a few bucks.