I bought my weekly Florida lottery ticket at the grocery store this afternoon. A buck a week. That’s the extent of my investment in the slim probability of winning a couple of million dollars (well, $1.22 million after the government takes its cut), or, more specifically, one chance in about 18 million. (I feel compelled to point out here that the federal government did not contribute its thirty-nine cent share to the cause, but you can bet your bum they will want their thirty-nine percent share of the winnings. But I digress.)
It took me a little longer than usual to get my ticket today. I had queued up with three others at the ticket counter behind a bald, disheveled, middle-aged guy wearing flip-flops, shorts and a threadbare Hawaiian shirt. This fellow was busily fussing with a small, clear plastic baggy, which was stuffed with a handful of scratch-offs and a stack of Lotto tickets about a quarter of an inch think. So, we all waited patiently, watching our Haagan Dazs’s melt, as crumpled bills and dog-eared tickets were pushed back and forth between this gentleman and the clerk until finally all was apparently in order. Then, off he went to count his winnings. There was no “eureka” from him at this point, so I assumed he didn’t win the big one.
One Saturday afternoon many years ago my wife and I were visiting my in-laws, Mildred and Harvey. There were a bunch of us there, including numerous little knee-high nieces and nephews scampering about. So when everybody got hungry I volunteered to run out to a Krystal and brought back some sacks full of French fries and those miniature burgers they sell there. As it turned out, Krystal was having a promotion: each of the small burger cartons had a scratch-off for the possibility of winning some free fries or something. Anyway, there must have been twenty of these little cardboard doodads. So, with nothing better to do, I sat there at the kitchen table, while Mildred quietly watched, and diligently scratched off all twenty of them until the table was awash in scratch-off residue. Didn’t win a single one. I cleared the table and was about to get up when she chuckled and handed me the coin I had been using for this task. “Don’t forget your lucky penny,” she said.
I have always been fond of the old axiom that luck is what one finds when opportunity meets preparation. I think this is often the case. But sometimes just plain ol’ dumb luck can win the day. Like the day I met my wife, which was way back in my musical days. She was in the audience while I was performing at a hotel lounge here in Jacksonville. Our eyes locked and the rest is history.
Life is full of hazards. If we fall in love we could get hurt. If we invest our money in a dream, we could lose it all. If we don’t work hard we aren’t going to reap the benefits of hard work. If we don’t participate, which is the worst of all decisions, we will not be able to look back in our later years and feel like we gave it our best shot.
So, for you young people out there, get after it, if you haven’t already. And even if you don’t win, take it from me, it will be fun to have tried.