I stopped off to get gas before work on Saturday so I could get home again afterward, which is how I tend to roll.* I left plenty of time, which was good, since the man in front of me had a looooong list of numbers for the clerk to plug into the Powerball Lottery.
He turned and apologized. “I don’t usually buy this many at once, but this is a big one, you know?”
I didn’t and said so, so he told me. I blinked and said, “You take your time.”
It’s actually gone up a little since then—two minutes before the writing of this sentence, it stood at $212 million dollars, which is approximately $142.9 million after the bulk payoff.
That’s . . . a lot of money.
My husband tells me that an investment banker friend of his told him that American lottery winners are 30% more likely to declare bankruptcy than the average citizen, which, considering the state of things, appears to be a bit of a risk. Apparently, people who already know how to manage their money don’t buy lottery tickets very often, which makes a lot of sense. There’s an old joke that goes, I won ten dollars in the lottery last week. I forget to buy tickets.
It’s actually a frightening concept, when you think about it, having all that money available, boom, just like that.
But as there’s no real risk of winning, I bought a ticket. Only one, just for the dreams, which naturally don’t include bankruptcy.
But what would they include?
Lawyers, a home security company, an investment banker, an accountant, a family trust. Set aside two million each for the kids’ education. Five million for retirement. Ten for my library system.** 30 for various charities, or possibly a Foundation (domestic abuse, anti-bullying, mental illness education, cancer?). Invest the rest and forget the principle exists.
Okay. . . but aside from all that.
Pay off the house, pay all the outstanding bills, make the back porch into a four-seasons room.
Quit library work and write full time, maybe. We wouldn’t have to worry about affording health insurance, and it would be great to be home when the kids are . . .
Maybe newer cars with MP3 plugs standard—though I’d be flying first class to Bouchercon, believe you me, and to heck with baggage fees.
Those bunk beds the kids want.
A house cleaning service . . .
My fantasies have gone all practical on me. It’s just too much money to deal with.
Not that I’d object to trying.
And by Wednesday morning, I’m sure I’ll be thinking about new houses in five states and three countries, including a unicorn farm outside Shropshire.*** Season tickets to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and every sports event known to my husband. New wardrobes and home theater systems and a private library study and weekly shipments of milk chocolate Hob Nobs—or maybe I’ll fly over to Harrod’s and select them in person before swanning off to Cadbury’s.
That’s better. That kind of What If is worth a dollar.
I won’t look up the numbers, when it’s time—you can get the imaginary bends, dropping too suddenly from Castles in the Air. I’ll wait for an announcement that the winning ticket was sold at my gas station. Then, and only then, I’ll fish it out of my wallet, and take a look.
After that, well . . . the next time I need to get rid of my gum in a hurry, I’ll have a small, unimportant piece of paper handy.
And that, under certain circumstances, can be priceless.
What would you dream, for a dollar?
*But only once literally, while being pushed into the station by guardian angel of a man who said I reminded him of his daughter before reading me the Standard Dad Riot Act. Turned out the fuel gauge was broken, but I’ve kept an eye on the mileage ever since.
**To stipulate or not to stipulate? Well . . . maybe a little.
***Just because I like the name, that’s why.