Friday, August 28, 2009

The Lottery Hostage

I don’t care what psychologists say. Negative reinforcement can be at least as strong a motivator as positive reinforcement.

Two weeks ago, the MegaMillions jackpot was $170 million, which proved high enough for all the Denizens of the Double-Wide here at work to get together and chip in $10 each to buy a bunch of lottery tickets. I’m not a big lottery player because I am good at math. But hey, for $10 one time I can put logic aside and engage in some workplace camaraderie.

We didn’t win. But even more significantly, nobody else did either. So the next time the jackpot was up to $230 million and we attracted a few more players looking to stand on a stage and hold a giant check. I stayed in this time too. “What’s the harm?” I thought. “I’d probably just blow it on beer anyway.”

For the second time, nobody won. The pot now stood at $270 million, and at this point we had 14 suckers on the line. Including me. The only people holding out were the director (who doesn’t need it anyway) and one girl who ditched us in favor of playing the lottery on her own. I suppose 1/15 of $270 million doesn’t go as far as it used to. Losing the lottery sucks, but I can’t imagine anything worse than the horror that would ensue if we all lost and this girl won. Conversely, I can’t imagine a more satisfying scenario than our group winning and her having to watch us jump around like a bunch of drunks at a wedding who just heard the DJ crank “Mony Mony”. Not to mention the fact that she would be the only one left standing after a mass tendering of resignations that might actually delay the release of the film and leave the studio in a considerable lurch.

Which leads me to my current dilemma. In keeping with the fact that it’s easier to be struck by lightning twice while laying down a royal flush on Mars than it is to win MegaMillions, nobody has yet won. Today the pot is worth $331 million, and I have absolutely no choice but to keep playing. Not because my investment in this foolish endeavor has now reached $40 (although I’m keenly aware of that too), but because dropping out and watching the group go on to win would be such a soul-crushing turn of events that I’d have no choice but to commit seppuku. My fear of being the one left out in the cold is far stronger than my hope of winning. So I have again plunked down $10 purely as an insurance policy against a nervous breakdown. I pray that someone wins this week and ends this vicious cycle.

Just as an aside, if you never see another entry on this blog ever again…we probably won.

14 metawords:

red said...

If you win, what else will you have to do but brag about your awesome life on your blog. I mean, seriously.

red said...

Oh, and good luck!

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

And now I'm torn.

While I would like to wish you good luck because, hey, 1/15 of $330 Million seems like a tidy nestegg that you might be able to build on later in life, I also hope you don't win so that I can continue being entertained electronically by the fruits created by the synthesis of your wit and fingertips.

The Vegetable Assassin said...

Yep. Who hasn't been THERE? That's how the lottery REALLY makes money. Everyone wants to play "once" then suddenly you're a ten year veteran and living with crushing disappointment.

Let's face it the thought of dropping out and the next week your syndicate hits it big without you, is sobering. I'm not sure I could take the pressure of that situation.

Soda and Candy said...

Ohhh, painful! I'd quit if I was you, even if you win they gouge most of it back off you in taxes.

BeckEye said...

The only time I've ever played the lottery was in those situations - a bunch of co-workers ask if I want to chip in. I always have that panic that they will win and I'll be left at whatever horrible job I happen to be at. Of course now I hate all of my co-workers, so if they're playing the lottery behind my back I wouldn't be at all surprised.

talesofawellfedgraphicdesigner said...

What red said! Wouldn't you have MORE time to blog about how awesome being rich is if you won the lottery?

Cora said...

I've never played the Lottery. Ever. But if there were a workplace mob mentality going on like you just described, I'd sooooooo be in because I wouldn't want to be the one dork who was out. I completely get where you're coming from.

Here's hoping you're set free from this cycle soon. Preferably by winning the cashola.

180|360 said...

If you ever win the lottery, I'm sure I'll be that pesky chick trying to play Scrabble with you regardless of how rich or poor you are. I don't really care about things like 300 zillion dollars and whatnot. I mean, after 1 million, does it really matter????

words...words...words... said...

When you're a barely-concealed megalomaniac it does ;)

Gwen said...

"So I have again plunked down $10 purely as an insurance policy against a nervous breakdown."

I heart you.

Rebecca said...

You're too unrelentingly pragmatic to handle winning the lottery. Too much good luck at once would kill you.

That is why I propose you add your commenters to your will. If you win, we will be comforted when the inevitable heart attack and/or aneurysm follows.

I almost forgot...good luck!

Anonymous said...

"easier to be struck by lightning twice while laying down a royal flush on Mars than it is to win MegaMillions"

Great stuff.

This reminds me of a Scott Adams bit:
"Nothing defines humans better than their willingness to do irrational things in the pursuit of phenomenally unlikely payoffs. This is the principle behind lotteries, dating and religion."

Love it all....Keep writing.

Kirk

Kirk said...

"easier to be struck by lightning twice while laying down a royal flush on Mars than it is to win MegaMillions"

Great stuff...

This reminds me of a Scott Adams bit:
"Nothing defines humans better than their willingness to do irrational things in the pursuit of phenomenally unlikely payoffs. This is the principle behind lotteries, dating and religion."

Love it all. Keep writing.

Kirk