A Big Crooked Number

On the thirteenth of the month I will turn 65. If it was a baseball score they would say I was putting up a big crooked number. In football you would have to score a touchdown each time you got your hands on the ball to run up that score. In the game of life it means I did not win some lottery about 8,000 times. If you add in hunches on the daily game I am sure 10,000 is a reasonable number of failed attempts. If a hitter has gone 0 for 10,000 the announcer would say, “He is due”. Well, let me tell you I am due; the stars are in alignment and I am going to knock one out of the park. It’s time to win one for the Bernie.

With a jackpot of well over a billion dollars, I don’t care about the odds. The odds are 1 to 1 that I am going to spend my money. If universe wants to right the wrongs it has showered down upon me over the years, now is as good a time as any. I will gladly accept its apology.

Let me tell all of those smug, now broke past winners, “YOU OWE ME”. Yes, I am the one who dumped all that money into the pot; raised the ante so you would decide to buy a ticket. If they ever build a lottery hall of shame, my stack of losing tickets will be prominently displayed. I am not bitter but if you are one of those chosen ones who were successful as a first time gambler, a pox on the right front tire of your Porsche.

Each of my 10,000 attempts has been a disappointment. Do you realize what it is like to be disappointed 10,000 times? Well, I will tell you what it’s like. It’s like watching Chris Davis strike out with the winning runs on base 10,000 times. It’s like failing your driver’s test 10,000 times. It’s like waking up with a smile on your face only to realize it was only a dream… 10,000 times.

The advertising says you have to play win. I have fulfilled my end of the contract. It’s time for the lottery to honor its commitment to me. I do believe it is a conspiracy to defraud the buying public. In the past, I have specifically asked the clerk for a winning ticket. They all pretend they have not heard that before and have completely ignored my requests. The no returns policy has been a burden and as a loyal ticket holder, I expect better customer service.

I realize that being filthy rich has its complications. Relatives I have not seen in 50 years will surface to talk about the good times we supposedly had as well as their idea to turn dog poop into dog poop salad. The big kid who took my lunch money will resurface and insist I send thirty-five cents a day to his retirement account c/o The Maryland Correctional Facility. Don’t bother to threaten to punch my lights out. I can afford plastic surgery now. People who have always hated my guts will… probably hate me even more now, but I will care a lot less.

Suddenly, I will be a lot more handsome. Hey, does money bulging from my pockets make me look buff?

At some point we all feel entitled and deserving. Most of us will be disappointed. Someone will eventually be the winner of an enormous amount of money. Looking back it would have been less disappointment if I had used that money to help someone have a better day. My prayer is that the eventual winner or winners of the jackpot are focused on need and not greed. That person or number of people will be saddled with the greatest human responsibility, which is to help others.

Most of you have heard of “The Starfish Story” by Loren Eiseley. There have been many adaptations. The following is one of them.

A young man is walking along the ocean and sees a beach where thousands of starfish have washed ashore. As he walks he sees an old man with a cane walking slowly and stooping often, picking up one starfish at a time and gently tossing it into the ocean.
“Why are you tossing the starfish into the ocean?” He asks.
“Because the sun is up and the tide is going out, they will die, if no one throws them back into the sea.
“But sir, there are so many starfish and miles and miles of beach. You can’t expect to save them all. If you work all day, your efforts won’t make a difference”.
The old man listened and then bent over to pick up another starfish and threw it softly into the sea, “It made a difference to that one and a difference in me.”

That crooked number allows me to see things through a different pair of eyes. I pray that the winner possesses the heart of the old man. Winner or not, please make a difference to someone.

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