As I stand in line to check out at the gas station, I am suddenly and irrationally seized by the impulse to buy a lottery ticket.
This is not something I make a practice of doing. In fact, I’ve never done it before. I don’t really gamble at all. I’ve watched old men in dirty jean jackets saunter into 7Eleven and buy lottery tickets and stand there at the counter, feverishly scribbling away with a coin only to toss the card on the ground in disgust, and I have always scorned them. I’ve never had any desire to partake in this bizarrely unproductive ritual.
I dismiss the impulse and continue to wait in line. But the tickets are all staring at me through this polished Plexiglas case, lined up all neat and everything. Why, I asked myself. Why waste money? I don’t even know how much those things cost. An inner dialogue commences. But what do I have to lose? Only a few bucks. Not worth it. But the impulse—maybe this is a sign! Maybe this is the universe speaking to me. Maybe I should just do it and see what happens.
The guy in front of me puts his six pack of Bud on the counter. “And,” he says to the clerk, “four of the Stacks of Cash and one Lucky 7s.” My heart starts to race and my eyes are uncontrollably glued to the Stacks of Cash lottery cards. This guy is buying them to get the duds out of the way. The next one down is mine, and I have this seriously undeniable feeling that I am going to win something. If there is anything that I’ve learned, and that I’ve been trying to put into practice, it would be to follow my gut instincts.
The guy in front of me walks out, and I set my soda down on the counter. “Just this. And, uh,” I clear my throat. “One of those, Stacks of Cash things.”
I take it outside and sit down in my car, trembling. There is no other explanation for such a powerful urge to grip me so suddenly and so irresistibly. This must be a sign, an offering of guidance from the universe. This is the encouragement I have been looking for, a tacit symbol of approval for what I am doing, a little financial boost to help keep me focused on the creativity. I read the directions on the card and I’m informed that I could win up to 100,000 dollars. Of course, I am only planning to win maybe $20 to $100, but you never know. I carefully select a coin that I now realize I had been saving for exactly this kind of moment. Rather than uncontrollably scratch the whole thing off, I move slowly. There are four hidden numbers on top and about 16 of “my numbers” below—after I scratch everything off, if any of my numbers match any of the ones on top, I have won.
I carefully scratch off the first hidden number on top, enjoying the feeling of the coin rubbing against the ticket. When I was a kid, I used to wonder if people bought lottery tickets just for the pleasure of the scratching. The first number is revealed: 27. I move down to my numbers and select one at random, letting my fingers naturally move to whichever space they are drawn. I uncover a 17. Under the 17, it says $100,000.
My palms start to sweat. Wait. $100,000? I got one of the $100,000 cards. If any of the other three up top are 17, I have won $100,000. Literally no joke. Never mind the mathematical odds of that number appearing—it’s not gambling right now, because I have the universe on my side. I can feel it. If I were a good American, I’d probably use the money to buy a new corvette. But, see, I’m not thinking about it like that. I will actually USE this, use it as a sign that I should be living this lifestyle—I can make it easy on $200 a week, $10,000 a year, that means that I am set for ten years of living the way I want to, vagabonding around—I have been wondering, not too concerned about the money of course because that’s not the point, but wondering about how to make this lifestyle work financially. Wouldn’t it just be too funny if after all my stress and doubt, a lottery ticket provided both the financial and spiritual/emotion kick to keep this up?
I keep scratching. I uncover a whole bunch of numbers that don’t match, but I am not concerned. I’m saving the top left corner for last, because I have a feeling about that one. Finally, I come down to it. This is the last number. When I scratch this off, I will know. This number needs to be a 17. Come on. I rub just the left half off—the first digit is a 1!!! Holy shit I am actually not just making this up, this is seriously happening. The universe, God, destiny, fate, whatever you want to call it, is with me right now I feel it. Finally: the last digit. I scratch it off. It’s a 2. The number is 12. I don’t win anything.