The Lottery is odious. It is horrible. You get your hopes up, and then they are destroyed and the next thing you know you are back at work on Monday morning. There was a time I fell into the vicious game’s bitter clutches. Actually, I would still participate in the hope game if my present work schedule permitted me the luxury of having time to buy a lottery ticket. As a matter a fact, my first GRAVE ERROR in this blog was neglecting to put “purchasing a lottery ticket” as one of the 20 things that I cannot do because I work at FON. But, unlike most people, for me purchasing the lottery was very scientific and exceedingly reasonable. Here’s my story . . .
My relationship with the lottery began sometime at the end of September, beginning of October 2005. In Spain, there are many different types of lotteries one can play, and lottery tickets are purchased in two different places — either the official State Lottery Offices or in the ONCE booths (ONCE, the Spanish Association for the Blind, has its own lottery). I had absolutely no idea which type of lottery tickets to purchase. When I first moved to Spain, there was a man who used to walk by my apartment each evening just before 8pm and yell out, “el ultimo para hoy”. Eventually, I learned that he was selling ONCE lottery tickets. As is always the case when I am lost in Spain, I called my trusted confidant Santiago to ask his advice. He is a fund manager, should understand about money, and generally is capable of convincing me that I am completely mistaken by what I tend to believe to be true. He does this by telling me, “no te creas.” This translates as “don’t believe yourself.” And he always sounds so convincing that I immediately cease believing myself.
In any event, after consultation with Santiago, I decided upon the Euromilliones Lottery game. This is a weekly, pan-European lottery with some pretty big prizes that are announced every Friday evening (it costs 2 EUR per ticket). The prize can range from 15 million to 115 million EUR. Now we’re talking. I don’t want to win a little money to have a party, I want to make enough so I don’t have to go to parties any more. Santiago also explained that I should only buy one ticket at a time because my odds would not substantially increase by purchasing more tickets (they would still be close to zero).
So one day I purchased my first lottery ticket. I was walking to work on a Friday and came across an official State Lottery Office. I walked in and tried not to look lost. I watched people and what they were doing. I pretended to be talking on the phone so people wouldn’t think I was trying to study their techniques. That way I could observe before I decided how to approach the situation. Some people filled in their own lottery tickets while others had the cashier do it at random. That’s what I chose. I said to the lady (behind the bullet-proof looking, not bullet-proof glass), “I will take one winning ticket for the Euromilliones.” I figured she had never heard that line before. Well, apparently not. She laughed.
The prize would only be 15 million EUR, but I calculated it could buy me some time before I decided where to best purchase my new roof top apartment. That’s right. I am not greedy. All I want is a roof top apartment in Madrid with a large terrace. No yatch, no fancy car, just a cool, central roof top apartment with a large terrace. I would like to have breakfast outside each morning with Madrid’s sun shinning down on my face.
On my way to work, I kept thinking about which neighborhood in Madrid should be the location of my new roof top apartment with its large sunny terrace. Everything in my life would fall into place thereafter. I thought about it most of the morning. Then I called my boss, Camino, and told her not to expect me on Monday. She inquired, and I have always been very honest with Camino. That’s just the kind of person I am, and plus, our relationship was based on trust. I explained and said that if I wasn’t at work on Monday it meant that I simply wouldn’t be coming any more. I think she understood.
That night I kept checking the teletext to see the winning numbers. On Monday morning, I was back at work. But, I still didn’t lose my faith. It’s kind of strange, hope is.
Then I grew a bit obsessed with the Euromilliones. I talked about it incessantly. Do you play? I play. I like to play. I won’t be working much longer, I told everybody. People wondered whether I was going to change jobs. No, I was going to purchase my roof top apartment with a large terrace. I would also spend some time just thinking. As you may know, the non-contemplative life is just not worth living. I also had a couple of unpublished novels to start writing, but first I needed to decorate, get terrace furniture, and make an upgrade in the girlfriend department. Unfortunately and I couldn’t understand why, I kept coming back to work each Monday. Something was wrong with my strategy.
I finally decided to abandon Santiago’s advice and to start really “believing myself.” What did this mean? I stopped asking the nice bullet-proof lady for random winning tickets and started choosing my own numbers. And against Santiago’s statistics, I would purchase more than one ticket at a time. I also decided to put my faith into my close friends and family members. I did this by filling out my own lottery tickets with their birthdays and ages. I would then walk up to bullet-proof lady, give her my tickets and my cash. She would smile and say something reassuring. I really liked her. It’s a shame I don’t have time to visit her anymore now that I work for FON because I know she really wanted me to win. She was rooting for me. I am sure of that.
This would usually be on a Thursday afternoon on my way back from work or on a Friday morning on my way to work. After purchasing the ticket, I would walk down the street considering all of the wonderful things about my roof top apartment with its large balcony. But, then, slowly I would be filled with panic. I would become overcome with anxiety. I knew it. My friends would change. People would constantly be asking me for favors, for handouts. I consider myself pretty generous. But, I am generous because I want to be, not because I have a bigger roof top apartment with a larger terrace than they do. And what about women? How do I know they like me for me and not for my …. large terrace. Ex-girlfriends and women who rejected me in the past would all want to come visit. It would be horrible.
Once when the prize reached 80 million, I simply decided to set a formula for giving a fixed amount to the 40 people I cared about the most, that simple. Get it all out of the way, and get back to just being friends again. But, when it reached 115 million, I started to feel really cheap. Each million would start adding up, and I would have to set a budget. It couldn’t be. I also started to become concerned that the Europeans wouldn’t appreciate an American winning their precious EURO-milliones. The pressure of becoming a millionaire was too much for me and was starting to become totally incompatible with my work schedule. I mean I still had to go to work each Monday morning regardless of all of the social stress of my soon to be vested millions and roof top apartment with the large terrace.
Fortunately for me, the State Lottery Office hours are totally incompatible with my present work schedule at FON, and I no longer have these issues. Nevertheless, a few months ago I was flying in my boss’ private plane from Madrid to Milan. While looking out the window over the Italian coasts and then villages, I got to thinking that it would be nice to also have a small apartment in Italy. What do I care about my present friends and family? They all had the wrong birth dates and ages anyways. I could use “luckier” friends. I won’t change. I know that for sure. I believe myself. I never want a private plane. All I want is a roof top apartment with a large terrace, not to have to go to work on Mondays, and if I have any change left over a small apartment in Italy after inaugurating my small chill-out lounge on the island of Formentera. Viva la loteria!