Friday, January 15, 2016

funny money

Someone bought two lottery tickets for the drawing this week…seeing’s how the amount got up to over a billion dollars…even Erin bought a ticket.  At least Someone came out ahead – one of his tickets had three numbers which makes it worth $7 (net gain for him = $3).
I can remember well when three dollars was a lot of money.  That’s one of the sad things about the lottery.  People who really can’t afford to spend $2 on a ticket will go buy tickets just for that one in a gazillion chance that they might win.  They buy a chance on a new life while their kids go hungry or go without medicine they need.  You could say they are buying hope.  Hope is a good thing, but perhaps I’m just too much of a realist to see hope in buying a lottery ticket.  I used to buy them regularly in my younger days…perhaps hope meant more to me then, or perhaps it’s more likely that repeated losing finally convinced me that instant wealth is not in my cards.
But, I do remember once the joy of instant wealth.  As an undergraduate college student living in little Nowheresville, Kentucky, money was a constant worry.  I managed to find enough low paying waitress jobs to keep myself in school, but a very lean lifestyle is stressful for anyone.  The campus in Nowheresville was mostly deserted on weekends and holidays…it was known as a suitcase college because most students went home when they had no classes.  It’s still a suitcase college, but perhaps not as much now as then.  In the 90s, the county finally voted wet so the town now has some restaurants that serve alcohol and even a Wal-Mart.  That’s major progress!

campus in Nowheresville

It was early evening, cold and windy.  Walking back to my dorm after work, few were out on the town streets – it was as quiet and deserted as campus that evening.  I was trudging up the last hill, looking down, and feeling sorry for myself – alone for the Thanksgiving holiday, broke with payday not for another week, and my food supply was very low.  As I stepped off the curb to cross the street – Behold!!   A wad of bills rolling along the curb, being blown by the wind...I could not believe my eyes.  I scooped them up and looked around to see who had dropped them.  Nobody.  Not a soul in sight.  I stood there for a minute, just waiting for somebody to come and claim the cash, like surely somebody would be searching for his dropped money.  I unrolled the wad and found six one–dollar bills.  Wow.  I looked around again and there was nobody.  The magic money was completely unattended.  I pushed the cash into my pocket and went home feeling guilty and elated.  

The money wasn’t mine.  I suppose there is still some residual guilt from when I kept it and spent it, but in defense of myself, I did watch the lost and found boards in dorm lobbies in my area for the rest of the semester.  Nobody reported lost money.

Six dollars was instant wealth in those days.  It was a windfall and completely changed the holiday for me.  It’s not that I went right out next day and spent it (that was not my style), but just having extra cash made me hopeful and even cheerful.  Having money gives a person some amount of control, or maybe it’s just a feeling of control, or maybe that’s what it does for me and nobody else gets that from having money in his pocket. 

I know it’s ridiculous to associate money with control.  None of us can control anything in this world, that’s the real bottom line.  All of us who are breathing at this instant are alive because nothing bad has happened yet.  In time, it will.  The most valuable commodity in this life should be time, not money.  Then again, time without money is stressful.  I prefer time and money.   


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