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.