Sunday, October 2, 2016

Idle Fantasies of Lottery Winnings

Few things exemplify the cultural decline of American values and civic institutions more than the establishment of state-run lotteries. Originally sold as an easy way to raise revenue without increasing those evil things called taxes, lotteries are in reality a regressive tax that lands squarely on the heads of the poor who often see it as their one avenue to escape poverty. The best example that typifies this insanity was an small incident I saw back in Colorado during the late 1980's while I was stationed at Fort Carson.

I was in a convenience store buying a soda and gas when I noticed the woman in front of me. The lady was mid to late twenties and had two small children hanging off her. Long story short, given the location of the store we were inside, just outside Fort Carson and close to cheap apartment complexes, she was probably the spouse of a lower-enlisted soldier. The half-gallon of milk in her left hand was a obvious giveaway for why she was in the store but when it was her turn at the checkout I thought my hearing was going bad when I heard her say to the clerk that she wanted forty dollars worth of lotto tickets. All jokes aside about her being an adult and having every right to do what she wanted with her money, that forty bucks could have at least gone to buying decent clothes for her kids who looked like third-world children from an international charity infomercial.

Lotteries are also the prime example of state governments that refuse to sit down and do the hard work of maintaining the foundations of a working society. Of course, maintaining a decent infrastructure and schools are almost impossible when taxpayers are so short sighted they're okay with lead in the water supply and kids going into middle school who can't read at a third-grade level. So, I guess that on some occasions establishing lotteries might be considered out of the box thinking by state leaders desperate to find even a partial solution to insufficient funding. The only problem is that after the bright and shiny newness of all the colorful scratch-off cards and bingo-like atmosphere of the multi-million dollar drawings wear off people simply don't play all that often thus reducing the incoming cash.

Now that I have honestly expressed my opinion of lotteries and the problems they breed, let me dive head first into the warm waters of blatant hypocrisy and openly state that on rare occasions I cough up a dollar and play the Mega Millions lottery. Why the Mega Millions lotto? Because it still only costs a dollar for one chance at the jackpot and I waste at least ten bucks a week on crappy things like sodas and honey buns, which are a debilitating psychological dependency for me. So, my flawed logic tells me that it's okay to spend a dollar on a lotto ticket instead of buying some pseudo-food that is more high fructose sugar than any other substance.

That massive rationalization doesn't explain the purpose as to why I waste a dollar on a lotto ticket where the odds are so overwhelmingly against me that I have a better chance of dying from a billion year old meteorite falling to Earth and killing me while I sit on the toilet. Don't believe me? Well, one source on Google says that during an average person's lifespan the odd of just such a death by meteoroid is 1 in 700,000.

Let me put it bluntly, I buy a lotto ticket after I have a bad day. Like many Americans, while I am not wealthy I live a decent, middle class lifestyle. Understand, that lifestyle is based on revolving credit so if you wanted to get technical in a way my actual worth is pretty low. That being said, since I have no discernible talents, like singing or say writing, that could catapult me up into the rich and famous crowd nor any wealthy connections that I could latch onto like a leech and suck dry. Because of those reasons I am forced to continue riding my Visa card like a plastic horse on a merry-go-round.

The usual scenario goes like this, after I make it through a seriously crappy day I sometimes feel the need for a little, cheap escapism fantasy that has a nanoscopic chance of becoming real. My usual habit is to buy my lotto ticket at the same time I get gas for the car. As far as picking my numbers the usual practice is to go the Luke Skywalker route and stare at the card I have to fill out hoping for some guidance from the Force. Sadly, there is ample fact-based evidence that I have absolutely no abilities that transcend the known laws of physics or human biology because since the beginning of the lottery in South Carolina I have never won anything significant. But then again, let me remind everyone I don't play more than three of four times in a year.

I guess the main comfort that lotto ticket offers is that it allows me for a day or two to contemplate an existence where I not hassled by the usual modern crap required to stay in the perpetual American race race. I'm talking about stuff that while normal can begin to weigh down on someone like going to work, paying the bills and mortgage, the upkeep of a house you really don't like, and dealing with people who you wouldn't piss on if you suddenly found them burning to death.

This is where hitting the lotto jackpot fantasies come into play for me. For a long time my standard fantasy was that once the multi-million dollar prize was safely deposited in my account I would then go public declaring my winnings and proceed to start telling every a-hole I am forced to deal with on a daily basis just what they can do to themselves. The type of a-holes I'm talking about are the ones that make you grind your teeth because of the combination of complete at the utter stupidity and/or offensive nature of the words that come out of their mouths.

The grossest example of this is the person who agreed with his preacher when he said for the United States to be safe it would ultimately have to build a wall along the northern border with Canada because their immigration policy was letting so many Middle Eastern types come live there. This also covers something as minor as the person who asked me if was I happy with the results of the 2008 election a few months after the fact. What made this seemly innocent comment worthy of a-hole status was the way his face and body cringed as he asked the question, almost if the words left a sour taste in his mouth. Given my extended relationship with that person it was crystal clear that there was a racial element to his question rather than some normal disagreement with Obama's stated policies.

Lately though my post-jackpot fantasies are far more understated and dare I say clever. Instead of leaving the rat race behind with a bang by telling off everyone that makes my skin crawl, I would not go public and essentially drop out of sight as much is legally possible these days. The first step would be to just quit my job unannounced leaving just the name of my newly hired attorney to handle any loose ends. After that the general idea would be for my family and I to go into immediate hiding from just about everyone else on the planet. I've heard and read stories of how all sorts of extended family, long-time friends, and nearly forgotten acquaintances all suddenly emerge from underneath damp rocks as soon as someone they know wins the lotto. From there we would purchase a new home, in a restricted neighborhood complete with armed rent-a-cops to keep away from all the unwashed hordes.

On a critical side note, during this idle and impossible fantasies, I have considered the possibility that someone I know could end up winning the lotto. This brings up the uncomfortable question as to how I would act if such an event occurred. My hope would be that would leave them in peace and wish them well in their new found luck. That being said, if they should need a kidney, segment of a liver, or any other body part I could donate they should be ready to pay out the proverbial ass.

There is a fundamental flaw to my plan of just dropping out of sight though, chiefly that my wife has an actual career that would make a semi-reclusive lifestyle impossible. Then there are my kids that are both far more social and outgoing with numerous friends than their proto-curmudgeon father who, except for a few exceptions, wouldn't piss on the vast majority of the people he lives around if they accidentally set fire to themselves.

This puzzle eventually forced me to adapt my idle and hopeless post-jackpot fantasy. The first elements stay the same, I would still not go public with winning the lottery. But once the winnings were in my account I would go purchase a massive pickup truck and trailer normally used by lawn care professionals to transport equipment. And yes, I would also buy one of those commercial-grade riding lawnmowers and several high end weed whackers and have them neatly arranged on the trailer. The final element would be the addition of magnetic signs attached to the side of the truck advertising my new lawn care business. From there I would cruise around the local area inside my massive manly man truck acting like I am driving to a different job site.

The only purpose of this ruse would be avoid having people start asking questions as to why I don't go to work anymore. Not that it would be any of their business either way, but the one consistency I have discovered about the area I live is a near universal nosiness they have with anyone not living a similar mindless pod person existence. I often liken the personal intrusiveness inherent to this area to a sinister collective mind worried it might be discovered before it was ready to pounce upon an unsuspecting world of free-minded individuals. If too many of the drones start seeing me lounging around all the time they are sure to come investigate.

The freaking thing about this fake lawn care business scheme is that once I was fully equipped I could essentially disappear into the background static of the numerous others pursuing that line of work. Since the birth of the modern New South back in the mid-1970's when millions of Northerners started moving down here to get away from the cold ass winters in those states, there has been a explosion of lawn care businesses. See some upscale suburbanites, especially retirees, hate doing yard work about as much as me, but instead of blowing off the whole thing as much as possible, which is what I try to do, they hire some chump for the job. This has lead to an explosion of near countless manly man trucks driving around while pulling a trailer loaded with commercial-grade equipment. Sometimes the roads are so crowded with such vehicles that I wonder about a future where all anyone in the American South does for work is cut and trim each others lawns.

So after a small investment in equipment I would begin my new career as a sort of Flying Dutchman of lawn care. People would see me driving around on the road but never actually doing any work. At some point though a person would call the phone number I have printed on my nifty magnetic signs attached to the doors of my truck. These inquires would allow me a tempting way to play with the little minds of the locals. I figure the conversation would go something like this on the rare occasions I would actually answered the phone.

“Hello,” I would cheerily say, “you have reached Omega Man Lawn Care, how can I help you today?”

“Yes sir,” the unsuspecting local drone would respond back, “I'd like to inquire about your services and rates. Could you drop by my address and give me an estimate.”

“Slow down dude, first I have to have some of your references. My clientele is quite exclusive and I can't just go around cutting just anyone's grass.” I will say in as deadly serious manner as I can manage.

I figure at that point the caller will be quite dumbfounded since most people in this perceive themselves to be God's gift to the planet Earth. I have found the trait tends to go hand-in-hand with being so nosy these people would have made excellent informants for the KGB or the East German secret police. But whatever the case, my decoy business would continue up until the time both my kids have flown the coop and started their own lives.

Once that happens my ultimate fate is up in the air because, as you probably surmised quite early, I have absolutely no intention of living in this current area for the rest of my life. The last part of my little fantasy has me buying a small cottage somewhere in the tropical hills of Puerto Rico. From there I see myself sitting on a small patio every morning looking off in the distance at the brilliant blue of the Caribbean sea.

Before anyone gets all uppity and condescending, let me remind you this is just a collection my fantasies that help me get through the daily grind. I simply don't buy lotto tickets on a regular basis but I do enjoy the small respite a simple one -dollar purchase can offer when things get tough. It's either that or going to see a mental health counselor and you just about to have to win the lotto to be able to afford one of them, ain't that just weird?


Pixel Peeper said...

Nothing wrong with a bit of escapism fantasy to get you through a tough day! Your idea about the lawn care company story made me laugh. I remember talking to someone once who said he wouldn't even call into work to quit. They just wouldn't ever hear from him again... "let them figure it out," he said. Hahahaha.

In my fantasy I'd buy condos in about four or five different places (the mountains of Colorado for the fun of it, two in the places where my oldest two sons live with my grandchildren, and one in Munich for seeing the German family). But that's about as far as my thoughts go.

We're one of those people who hired a lawn-mowing guy a few months ago. It still feels weird - probably about as weird as I'd feel if I hired someone to clean my house. But at least we don't have to kill ourselves on the weekends trying to do this one chore (there's still too many chores filling up the weekends anyway...).

Beach Bum said...

Pixel: Yeah, my wife and I are headed for a coming to Jesus moment eventually over taking care of the lawn. I still use a push mower for everything and that it is getting real old. Throw in the high summer humidity and bright sunshine and around the middle August I swear I can almost watch my grass start growing right after I finish cutting it.

A riding lawnmower is definitely in my future but I would prefer just to hire someone to cut it.

MigratingSpirit said...

Oh for crying out loud, I will find you no matter what and my silence as to your whereabouts CAN be bought. lmtlsao

I would just buy a cabin in the mountains in Colorado to add to my collection. I doubt anyone will try to find me and my money I have been told no one cares. Hah.

The Bug said...

I admit that we have a mega millions at all times (mostly - we don't have one right now). I always get a ticket for a month's worth of drawings - that's $10 for a little fantasy & entertainment. In the early days we used to talk about setting up educational trust funds for our nephews & niece, and giving our brothers money, and then moving to somewhere in the NC mountains (although Mike would probably prefer the beach). Now the kids are mostly grown up, and we aren't sure we want to live that close to family anyway. It's fun to dream though!