The lotto lady

By John Toth

I stood behind the lotto lady at the convenience store one morning recently, waiting at the checkout to pay for my coffee and breakfast taco. I tried to beat her to the counter, but failed.

She was taking forever. It doesn’t matter how many people lined up behind her, she was taking her time to pick out which lotto tickets to buy, scratch off and then throw away.

I hate waiting like this.

I buy lotto tickets also, but only when the jackpot goes way up – just in case the numbers on the ticket are drawn. So far, I have not matched one single number.

But I don’t spend an endless amount of time trying to make up my mind while people behind me are checking out. I would restrict lotto purchases to non-busy hours, when there are less than two customers in the store, or, when I am not in a hurry.

The woman in front of me finally made up her mind, and the clerk gave her the scratch-offs. She handed over $30. Those had to be some expensive scratch-offs. I infrequently buy the $1 ones. I can’t bare the thought of scratching off a $10 ticket and – nothing. That’s just too much money to lose so quickly.

The clerk saw that I was growing inpatient. I was in a hurry on a weekday morning, and someone in a robe and house shoes decided to hold a party for herself while picking out which lotto tickets to buy.

The clerk looked helpless. She didn’t want to make the customers mad. I felt like she felt my pain. After all, she saw me trying to beat the lotto lady to the counter.

The lotto lady sat down at a table and began to scratch off her expensive tickets. One by one, the tickets went in the trash. I could have downloaded 6 albums from Amazon for $30 (I only get the cheap ones).

What a waste that was.

There is a woman in my neighborhood who is rumored to win a lot. I don’t know how she does it. I stood behind her one morning while she was buying the tickets. Now, there was a professional in action. She picked out her tickets in seconds. She knew exactly which ones she wanted, and she had her cash ready.

And, she won. But not much. She complained about it. At least you won something, I said. I can’t remember the last time I won anything, not even $1.

“You just have to know how to play,” she said.

How do you play? What do I have to know? She would not say. Maybe she wanted to keep it a secret. Or, maybe there is no secret. Maybe you just have to play a lot, and sometimes you win. Then you spread the word that you are winning.

What I really enjoy is when the lotto jackpot builds up to astronomical levels and people start talking about what they would do with all of that money. They take a little trip to dreamland – which is reality to the mega rich – and start spending all that imaginary money.

It’s fun to do, I admit. It would be even more fun to actually win the money.

So, what would I do with $300 million?

First, I would build a convenience store where there is a lotto line and then a line for people who just want to buy coffee and a breakfast taco.