Friday, August 26, 2005

Not a Winner

Despite considering myself reasonably intelligent, I still buy a ticket for the Saturday night lotto draw every week.

Australia's population has now reached twenty million and any mathematician (ie, my husband, Love Chunks) will tell you that the chances of selecting the winning six numbers from a combination of 45, is well, about 123,456,789 to one. Most of us would have either created a program or seen a friend create one that compares the success of choosing the same six numbers every week to varying them each week - with the same six winning by a flea's eyelash.
To complicate things further (at least for a mathematically-deficient meathead like me) is that most people tend to select their 'regular six' using birthdates which means that numbers above 31 are unlikely to feature on their tickets. Whether any boffin has bothered to work out the odds of selecting numbers 32 to 45 to increase the chances of winning is probably still being undertaken by those dateless virgins stuck to desks in their bedrooms on Saturday nights.

Yet, as admitted to earlier, I buy a ticket and, before I've even left the newsagent, idly waste about ten minutes of my life musing about the 'What if I Won Lotto' fantasy. Yes, the most unoriginal, unrewarding and unrealistic daydream that every person above the age of seven has entertained at least once in their lives. It's pathetic and even though I'd like to think I was above all that, I still do it - kind of like believing that an orange eaten after a Kit-Kat cancels out the wickedness of the chocolate.

On Sunday mornings I flick to page two of the newspaper; write down the winning lotto numbers (and the two supps - any money is good money) and then meticulously check my ticket. Nope, not even a division six prize, dammit. On Monday morning whilst doing the shopping I take that same ticket in to the newsagents to get them to run it through their computer, vainly hoping that I'd mis-checked and the numbers would tell a better story. The bored shop assistant slips it into the slot, counts to three and hands me back my ticket and a slip and tells me, "Sorry, not this time love." And here's the killer: the slip says 'NOT A WINNER,' as if to rub salt in my already pus-infected wound of disappointment.

Why don't they just go all out and say 'YOU'RE A TOTAL LOSER' instead? Perhaps they could also get a bit creative with the rejection slips and have a different one each time: 'You're still poor. And ugly'. Or: 'You should be happy that you even had the guts to turn up here today and not frighten any of our customers'; 'Hell, a face like yours would be able to sand down a log,'; or 'Trust me, you didn't win last time, didn't win this time and will never win. Rack off.'
This would be the one I'd get: 'You lost. Now get out of here; you make the place look untidy.'

Hope springs eternal though as there was also the work lotto club. We would all chip in our $2 for the week and get a group ticket. However, as soon as I joined up, we didn't win a brass razoo. (What is a 'razoo' exactly? Well whatever it was, we never won it). Our statistical analyst suggested that the odds would be far more favourable if we tried putting our money on a horse race, taking it in turns to select the race and whichever horse's name appealed to us. Twelve months of that and still no pot of gold. How about the greyhounds? Zilcho. Our other stats guy helpfully pointed out that if we'd invested our weekly contributions we'd have fully paid for our christmas lunch, endless drinks and taxi fares by now. He was promptly shoved into the photocopier room and ignored until the deadline rush for our unit's monthly finance reports.

The unit's stalwart, Brian, had a twinkle in his smug, 'I'm sixty-four and will be out of here soon' eyes. What about El Gordo? "Nah, I've never eaten there, I had a bad experience once with those refried beans and-------" No you imbecile, the Spanish lottery. Anyone from anywhere can enter and the prize pool is $200 million US. It's drawn twice a year, so how does five bucks each sound? It sounded OK, actually. Unfortunately, Brian still showed up for work the Monday after the big draw, face solemn, muttering to himself, "Bugger it, I still have to work here."

Scratchies were our last resort. Two bucks each, so we could buy a whole toilet roll of them and take it in turns each week to scratch them all. It was absolutely tragic - our biggest windfall was $3 and we'd only spent $22 to 'win' it.

Is there a message in all of this? Well obviously it's to keep your money in your wallet or the bank, isn't it? But we don't do we? We all like to wish, hope and fantasise. My naive little gambling bug also extends to entering competitions. Thankfully I'm not like my friend Bill's sister who ended up buying 16 jars of mustard for the entry tokens, but I am prepared to pay for a 50c stamp to enter a competition on the back of a packet that I'd ordinarily buy.

And what have I won? Well, I wanted to win the First Class around-the-world tickets on offer, but got the consolation prize of a Deeko paper serviette holder instead. It's actually rather useful and is a quite attractive wrought iron design..... I also wanted to win the Cadbury $250,000 cash promotion, but got a blue plastic 'Time Out' watch instead. I suppose it's proved handy for gardening and swimming, and getting some facial cleanser and toner from Jurlique was OK but I felt a bit shortchanged when what I really wanted was all-expenses paid fortnight's health and beauty retreat at the Golden Door in Queensland....

At the time of typing this, I'm still hoping to come up trumps for:
  • The Willy Wonka 'Golden Ticket' to the Nestle factory (I want to have my ashes strewn across Cadburys when I depart this earthly existence, so this prize would come a close second);
  • The Surf washing power 'Win $50,000 in the box' campaign;
  • Farmers Union's 'Win a Four Wheel Drive and Fishing Boat (for Love Chunks);
  • Marie claire's 'A week in Fijian Paradise' holiday;
  • Kleenex tissues' $200,000 Winter Warmer travel prize; and
  • Blind Society's 'BMW' raffle.

Overly optimistic and pathetic, yes. But the day I stop hoping is the day I'll stop living; regardless of the mathematical logic. And I ain't a logical gal, as Love Chunks and the general population will readily tell you.

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