Tag Archives: Lotto

Don’t buy scratch-offs in Massachusetts

Everything’s going great, man, I don’t think things have ever been better. Except maybe for that one time I won that scratch-off when I was seventeen. Dude, I felt like such a rock star, I was driving through Massachusetts, and everyone always talks like cashiers in Massachusetts are so strict, like you can’t get anything past their Puritanical ethics, but I was at this one gas station, I don’t know if he didn’t care, or if I just had that eighteen-plus look about me, but this guy didn’t even ask me for ID. And it was like, I had ID ready, I got this ridiculous fake ID at some tattoo shop in the West Village, so this thing was there, ready, already out of my wallet, man, part of me wanted to just show it to him anyway, and as he handed me that scratch-off, I was even tempted to try buying some beer, just to see if he’d give it to me. But better not tempt the fates, right?


When I got back home, I was showing off my big purchase, my parents immediately started giving me grief, “What are you doing spending your money on scratch-offs?” all about how I don’t have money to piss away, where did you get that lotto ticket from anyway, stuff like that. And normally I would’ve gone back, started a huge fight, but I just took out a quarter and started scratching. Bam, two hundred and fifty bucks. That got everybody really quiet. Although, I did have to drive back up to Massachusetts to claim the money, and this time, even though I went to the same gas station, it was a different attendant. I walked up to the counter, I didn’t even ask for anything yet, and this guy just goes, “ID.” And so I’m thinking, do I try out the fake on this guy? He seemed pretty serious, like not only might he not accept this out-of-state Delaware phony resident card, but maybe he wouldn’t give it back, maybe he’d call the cops.

So I was just like, “Uh, give me twenty at pump three,” try to make him feel bad maybe about just assuming that I was up to something illegal, even if only slightly illegal. And I don’t get that, the buying of the scratch-off should be as far as the state gets involved. Once it’s in my possession, man, just back off, all right? Just, I bought that two hundred and fifty dollars, what are you going to do with the ticket, you’re going to claim it?

He said, “You pump first and then you pay. This isn’t New York.” And so, whatever, I didn’t need gas anyway, and I just drove off, thinking that I had to drive three hours back to Long Island, and what, I’d have to convince someone to drive up there with me? Again? No way, I hoped this scratch-off wouldn’t expire, I’d just wait until my eighteenth birthday. I kept replaying the scene in my head. What I should have done is, I should have went to the fridge first, I should have picked out a Mountain Dew or something, and that way the guy wouldn’t immediately think to ask me for ID, like go ahead buddy, let’s see what you’ve got. And then as he was making change, I could have been like, “Oh yeah, I think I have an old scratch-off here somewhere,” made it like more of a casual transaction.

But I couldn’t wait until my birthday, and when I finally got my mom to take the drive with me, as soon as I got that cash, she was like, “You owe me for car insurance,” which, yeah, I guess I did, and I owed something around two fifty, for real, maybe it was even a little more, and so I just kind of handed it over, like the universe giveth and the universe giveth to my mom instead of me.

And seriously, talk about good luck, every time I’ve gone to Massachusetts since, I always make it a point to buy a scratch-off, the ten dollar ticket, the big money jackpot one, and since I was seventeen years old, I swear to God I haven’t won a cent. Not one penny. Isn’t that crazy? It’s like they saw me crossing the state line and they were like, here’s the plan boys, we’ll give him a moderately sized lump sum now, and boom, we’ll have a customer for life.

So yeah, it didn’t exactly end well, but just in that moment, scratching off those five matching numbers, unveiling that hidden coin for the extra fifty bucks, that was a hard feeling to top. Although, I am feeling pretty good right now. I just had a sandwich, and so everything’s just nice and full, my stomach, maybe I’ll have a soda. Maybe I’ll go buy a scratch-off, a couple of Win-For-Lifes.

So many possibilities

You, give me five dollars. Go into your pocket, find five dollars, and then give it to me. I’ll make change. I’ve got change. And I’d like more change. More money. Yours. It’s either give me five dollars willfully, or face the possibility that I might go ahead and demand ten dollars, this time a little bit more aggressively. I’m not threatening. That’s just a possibility. The universe is full of possibilities. I’m just pointing out one rather peaceful possibility, you giving me five dollars, in contrast to a slightly more violent possibility, me taking ten dollars. Who am I to say what’s going to wind up happening? I’m no fortuneteller. I’m just a guy, standing in front of another guy, asking him to give up five dollars. Does that really sound like such a big deal?

And you. I’d like five dollars from you also. In addition, I’d like you to walk over to that deli and buy me a sandwich. Peppermill turkey on a hero, lettuce, tomato, mayo and mustard. And a soda. If it comes with a pickle, great, if not, I want a small bag of chips. And don’t think that I won’t be waiting outside, because I will be waiting outside. Again, I can’t predict the future, I mean, I can predict it, I just can’t tell how accurate those predictions will wind up being.

You. You heard all of that stuff I was saying to those other two guys, right? Well, I want all of the same stuff from you, but pick me up a couple of scratch-offs while you’re in there. Listen, you can put away that cell phone or you can keep dialing whatever number you’re dialing. I can put down my fist or I can clench it even tighter.

It’s crazy, all of the possibilities, all of the different scenarios I can imagine. You ever hear about any multiverse theories? Like just because something’s not happening in this universe doesn’t mean that it isn’t happening somewhere else. Actually, I think that it has to be happening somewhere else. Like there are an infinite amount of universes, one for each possibility. So while it’s almost crazy to think about me getting very, very violent over you not giving me five bucks, a sandwich, some Lotto tickets, and a ride home, it’s even crazier to think that somewhere in some parallel universe, that’s exactly what’s happening.

I’m no scientist, but if I were in your shoes, and I did subscribe to this multiverse mumbo-jumbo, I’d be doing everything in my power to make sure that this universe doesn’t wind up turning out to be that universe, the one where I start going off-the-wall nutso just because some knucklehead won’t hand over what amounts to less than twenty dollars worth of deli purchases, a quick ride home, and a very brief stop in your bathroom.

Because who’s to say, right? Like who’s to really say that I will or won’t do anything? You. Go over to that guy in the deli and tell him that I forgot to ask for onions on my sandwich. You. Make sure that that other guy over there is buying me the good scratch-offs, not those cheap-o dollar tickets. Because that wasn’t the deal. And if I wasn’t specific in this universe, well, I’m sure there are a near-infinite number of me lookalikes somewhere out there that would beg to differ.

And not the five dollar ones either, make them the tens, the big ones, the ones with thirty-two chances to win. That’s a lot of chances. Think about me maybe winning the jackpot. Somewhere it’s got to happen, right? I mean, statistically speaking, I should be rich somewhere out there, you know what I’m saying? Like, what’s thirty two chances times infinity?

Abstract Math

What do you do when you only have an hour and a half left before you have to go to work and you’ve been trying to sit down and write something for the past few hours but your brain’s not working or something’s not clicking because everything you’ve tried to put down so far hasn’t really turned into anything worthwhile? I tried writing something about abstract mathematics. I thought that would be funny. I didn’t really have a whole idea worked out, I just wanted to get to a point where I could write something about being an abstract mathematician and somebody comes up and asks me for help with some regular math, or even some pretty complicated math, and I would just stare at them for a while before getting all offended, explaining that I only deal with math on an abstract level, on a theoretical level, that they could never understand, that I don’t even use numbers, it’s just letters, and actually, it’s not even letters, it’s all Greek symbols, and my calculator alone costs more than their house. And then I would write out this huge description of me, standing in front of a chalkboard, piece of chalk in hand, tweed jacket on and everything, but there wouldn’t be anything on the board, nothing, and I wouldn’t even be moving, I would just be thinking, transfixed in thought, and then you would see into my head, like if it were a movie, the camera would zoom into my head, into my brain, and you would just see strings of equations moving so fast, and you’d get it, you’d get how hard I’m thinking, how abstract, how smart. But that’s it. That’s all I’ve got. It’s not a story. It’s not even really a joke. It’s nothing. A whole lot of nothing.

All of this talk about numbers has me thinking about the lottery for some reason, specifically, how whenever you buy a lottery ticket it tells you the odds of winning the jackpot. Or maybe it doesn’t say it right on the ticket, but it definitely says it on the lottery web site when you go to check out the numbers to see if you won anything, but you never win anything. But if you have enough money to beat the odds, to buy every single combination of numbers, then you’re a guaranteed winner. So why don’t all of the rich people of the world get together and just buy up every ticket? It seems like such a genius plan.

Wait a second. I just realized that if they bought all the tickets, there’s a risk that someone else might also buy the exact same winning numbers, and then they’d have to share the jackpot. And what’s the point of being rich if you have to share? And since they spent all of that money buying up every combination of numbers, they’d actually wind up losing more money than they put in. Plus, by buying every combo, the jackpot would get higher and higher, driving up the lotto’s popularity, making it so that everyone on the street would feel the inclination to buy a lotto ticket. And maybe two lotto tickets, or ten. Or maybe you could walk around the office telling people to pitch in a buck or two to make a smaller lotto pool, smaller than the really rich people’s, but still, bigger than going it alone. And this would, in effect, raise the odds that the rich people would definitely have to split their jackpot.

Actually, wasn’t that just abstract mathematics? That whole discussion about the lotto? Maybe I am an abstract mathematician. So maybe the rich people should change the rules, so that way each number combination can only be bought once, that way they wouldn’t have to worry about splitting it with anybody. Wait a second, but then they’d just be winning their own money and nobody else’s. Right? I’m confused. Abstract math is tough. It’s not an easy subject. And I don’t even have any formal training or education, so it’s even tougher for me than it would be for a real abstract mathematician. It’s like when I change a flat tire, it takes me five hundred times longer than it would somebody who works in a garage.

One time I spent like an hour changing a tire. It took forever. Well, it took an hour. Or like an hour. But it felt like forever. And I jacked it up all wrong. I knew it wasn’t jacking up like it should, but I have this stubborn streak in of me, especially when I want a really boring or menial task to be going a lot faster than it currently is. I’ll just plow through it, even if I know I’m not doing it right, even if I know that I made a mistake and should have backtrack. Kind of like where I’m at right now in this blog post. It was so stupid though, I didn’t loosen up the bolts before I jacked it up, and I knew that I was supposed to, I just forgot, I just hadn’t done a tire changing in like six years. So I had to screw everything back in, unjack the car, rejack the car. It was a nightmare. Abstract mathematics isn’t even that tough. Well not as tough, but just as boring. Really, really boring.