I won! I won! I won the lottery! Seven dollars on a $10 ticket. Iím taking it as a lump sum, not that they even asked my preference. Now Iím cleaning the living room so it wonít look like a pigsty when the photographers arrive.
I canít tell you how long Iíve dreamed of this moment. I am the original guy who never wins anything, but finally, all those years of buying lottery tickets each week has paid off.
Itís not like Iíve been throwing that money away. A lot of it goes to keep the state from raising my taxes to pay for things like lottery commissioners, and whatís left goes to our educational system, which needs improving.
Why, oh why, was I never taught how to calculate the odds of winning the lottery? If I buy two tickets, does it double my chances of winning?
ďIf you play the same numbers on two tickets, and why would you, your odds stay the same,Ē says Sue, who actually paid attention in school. ďIf you play two tickets with different numbers, you have a gazillion ways to lose but only two ways to win. At the track, a dead horse could get better odds than that.Ē
Instead of practical math, I took band in school and dreamed of turning professional. But the days of making the big money playing the glockenspiel have gone the way of buckled shoes and powdered wigs, though I still wear them around the house.
Donít worry; winning wonít change me. Iím not going to quit my job and start lording it around like Iím the king of the world. Iím the same today as I was the day before I won, just $7 richer. Most people might not even notice the difference, thatís how grounded I am.
By the way, I have a new unlisted number. I donít want to answer a bunch of nuisance calls from relatives now that Iím a winner. Too many people had my old unlisted number. And by too many people, I mean my family. Who gave it to them?
A lot of people ask how I picked the numbers. Is there a system I use? No, it was pretty much dumb luck. Sueís birthday, my first address, the last two digits in my Social Security number. I donít know if that will work for you, but it sure worked for me.
Was I disappointed I didnít win the grand prize? Not until I learned I hadnít won it. Before that, I was happiness itself. For the two days I had the ticket in my pocket, I daydreamed about what Iíd do with hundreds of millions of dollars. Oh, Iíd spend a little on myself Ė take a few trips, find out what the first-class compartment on a plane looks like, buy a new car, fix up the house, start making glockenspiel records Ė but that would still leave, oh, $150 million. Iíd send some off to my brothers and sisters, give some to friends who had fallen on hard times, make some anonymous donations. I daydreamed about making people happy, like some good lottery fairy godmother Ė dropping out of the sky and doling out $10,000 here, $5,000 there. I would be a force for good; I would change lives in profound ways.
Just daydreaming about winning made me a nicer, happier, more cheerful person for those two days. For $10, I got two days of happiness, which, compared to going to a movie or going bowling, seemed to be a bargain. Itís way, way cheaper than seeing a therapist. And what difference does it make if I win or not? No one expected me to drop out of the sky and solve all the worldís problems anyway.
Iím wondering now if I can get the same effect if I spend only $5 a week. To go out and buy hundreds of dollars of lottery tickets I canít afford would be foolish, but to spend a few bucks to improve my attitude?
Sue would think it was a bargain. She might even give me the money.
Jim Mullenís newest book is called ďKill Me, Elmo: The Holiday Depression Fun Book.Ē You can reach him at JimMullenBooks.com.