Winning The Lottery Just Ain’t That Easy

My girlfriend lives 9,525 miles away, a mere 9,025 miles beyond what I used to consider a reasonable dating radius. She’s a real good lady, and I’d like to think I’m an okay sort of guy. The two of us are both well educated, caring, and for the most part law-abiding citizens, and we really get along great. In fact, we’re inseparable. Except for that whole being 9,525 miles apart thing.

The problem is money. She owes the government of Singapore a bunch (a government you try not to piss off) and I feel my earnings power is best here in the States. For the time being, we’re stuck.

Now a good friend of mine once recounted a proverb of sorts that his old man had bestowed upon him. It was roughly paraphrased that “Money problems are good problems to have, because they always work themselves out.” Beyond destroying my faith in proverbs, I suspect this oversimplified generalization to be just plain untrue. In this case, at least, the $90,000 we each owe for an Ivy League graduate education is a real and lasting problem, one that to date has failed to “work itself out.” Another assumedly “good problem to have” is that Ivy League degree. You see the two of us are trained as city planners—a skilled and dare I utter, even noble (?) profession—but one that doesn’t pay on the scale of say medicine, law…or…other professions. We thought we had a solution though: one of us would win the lottery.

Unfortunately, as it turns out, winning the lottery just ain’t that easy.

Now I know what you’re thinking, you should count your chickens, let them hatch, look a gift horse in the mouth, patience is a virtue, yada yada yada. Of course I am well aware of the fact that there are probably some people in the world who have worse problems…abject poverty, bail to pay, steep medical bills and the like. It’s just that these people aren’t me or my girlfriend.

On my end, I’m not asking that much. Heck, I don’t even play the Powerball or Megamillions, because that would be greedy and trying to take the easy way out. I play the lesser games, like the New York Lotto or even $2 scratch-offs that pay maybe $250,000 max. I’m not aspiring to a life of caviar, Dom, Cuban cigars, and elegant soirees with foreign dignitaries at my palatial second estate in the Hamptons (though that would be nice). No, me I’d be satisfied with a modest $25,000 just to make a dent. $80,000 might be nice to pay off the credit cards, the dough I owe my parents (shout out to Mom and Dad, no I haven’t forgotten), and part of the student loan debt. Maybe $200,000 would do, so I could pay off both our tabs and we could be finally freed from our geographic constraints. Shoot, would $1 or $2 million be too much to ask, so I could buy her something nice from time to time?

So far, no luck. As it turns out, and to my surprise and dismay, there is no positive statistical correlation between the SUPER LUCKY feeling I have with each ticket I buy and the actual winning of the top (or virtually any) prize. I study the scratch-off names and formats for some metaphysical relation to my own life and times. Am I feeling “Lucky 7”? I do recall having a lot of fun playing “Kick the Can” when I was exactly seven years old. Hmmm…”Bingo.” I think an aunt of mine used to like Bingo, plus I once won the classic children’s game “Ants in the Pants” in a modified elementary school Bingo throw down. Still, nothing. I’ve tried birthdays of my brothers and sisters, anniversaries, ages, and random sets of numbers. Yet I still haven’t found that winning combination.

A former coworker once put his thoughts on winning the lottery plainly. “You can’t win if you don’t play.” I think old Steve was right. Lately, though, it seems he’d be wise to consider a new adage. “You can’t win even if you do play.” On the surface, 1 in 8,000,000 odds really doesn’t seem so daunting, especially when you really feel your time has come. We could sure use the money, for the relationship’s sake, and that should count for something in a metaphysical sense. No?

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