Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Dollars and Dreams

It's that time again. Big jackpot for Powerball or whatever in NJ. Sometimes it's in DE. Sometimes in PA.

People are work start soliciting for contributions to the lottery pot. Someone will go buy the tickets, photocopies will be made of all the tickets for the contributors. Presumably, the contributors will huddle around the TV that night with their copied tickets.

I think I played it once at work. We didn't win. After that, I did not see the point and people knew not to ask me for lottery.

However, everyone's enthusiasm is what is striking. People are optimistic and excited. "Oh, you'll be the only here on Monday!" implying that everyone will win over the weekend, take their winnings and sail off to the Bahamas. And, I shall be the lone person in the office come Monday. Fine, I'll take that risk.

In one way it's admirable. In another way, it's very disheartening to think that this is the only way people feel their life can be changed. They are in their current situation because of external limitations - there would be too many to name. The lottery rage is not just in the ranks of the temp and hourly employees, but some managers also participate. What are they looking to change?

I enjoy going to casinos and playing roulette or blackjack (it's been years though!). I don't like slot machines though. I'm used to throwing in quarters and at least getting a can of soda in return. With the games, there's some sense of control over what you risk and how you choose. The lottery, when you allow the machine to choose for you, is like the slot machines. You take what you get. You'll win a small amount just to make sure you come back and bet more.

So, what is there to the lottery? Is it just a dollar and dream? Or is it just one dream and lots and lots of dollars spent to achieve it. My parents used to own a store which sold lottery tickets. They were surprised at the number of daily customers they had, usually retired individuals. They are on fixed incomes, but they have allocated enough to play daily.

I think of 'Cinderella' in all this. We all regard the story as a symbol of wishes granted magically. The fairy godmother will give you your designer gown, pimp your ride and find you a rich hunk. Yet, people forget that Cinderella did not win because she bought into the dream. She worked hard and stayed true to herself in the face of adversity. In the end, she was rewarded. Maybe I buy into that dream that you do what you must and hope that someone will recognize you for it eventually. It won't happen magically.

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