It seems whenever I go to a card and gift shop, I always see somebody hovering near the counter with a stack of scratch-off lottery cards in hand, furiously scraping away the silver coating to reveal the nothing that they've won.
Late this morning, I was at the card and gift shop near the Shoprite in Plainview Plaza, waiting for someone to help me with getting a balloon for my daughter's birthday party. While waiting, I observed this lady who looked to be in her late sixties, holding several lottery cards, a ten dollar bill and a five dollar bill in her left hand. She was scratching away at the cards with a coin and it was evident to me that when she finished with them that she had not won a penny. Having exhausted her supply, she proceeded to buy another ten dollars worth and continued again with her exercise in futility. Again, she came up donuts. So, did she learn her lesson? Nope, she then blew her Abe Lincoln bill on another one. How pathetic, I thought.
From my own personal observation, this seems to be a common activity. I see these people barking to the register clerk behind the counter, ordering 2 of this one and 3 of that one, with an air of self importance, as if they have convinced themselves that if they order a variety of different scratch-off cards in different amounts that it will somehow dramatically improve their chances of winning the jackpot. Usually, if they win anything at all, it's a couple of dollars that they then use to buy another scratch-off card until they have expended all of their cash.
Sometimes I feel like grabbing these people and yelling at them, "What the fuck is the matter with you!" I mean seriously. If they put the $25 or $30 they spent on this shit everytime they went to the card shop and put it in a cookie jar instead, by the end of the year they would accumulate enough money to actually buy something or go on a trip or whatever. My oldest brother Bobby was like that. The concept of setting aside money and accumulating savings never seemed to have seeped into his brain. Instead, it's either poverty or getting lucky that one time. He was the kind of guy who, for my birthday, would give me a card with $20 worth of scratch-off cards in them. Typically, I wouldn't win a cent, and I would tell him that he should have just given me the $20 instead.
What really annoys me about this scratch-off lottery thing, or lotteries in general, is that they end up becoming a voluntary tax paid by poor people. After all, it's not like rich people are playing the lottery. They've already got theirs. A lot of these people are struggling to make ends meet and they are just pissing their money away chasing a fantasy. I just find that very sad.