My own flesh and blood knocked me off the wagon, so to speak, giving me scratch tickets as a gift.
"Here’s the last of your Mother’s Day gifts for this year," my daughter said as she handed me five scratch tickets.
I had been fighting the urge to buy scratch tickets for months, in keeping with my New Year’s resolution not to waste money on scratch tickets. But my daughter’s generosity caused my relapse (She had already given me a beautiful dress, a month’s supply of my favorite cake, a slip that is so gorgeous I am going to have to buy a sheer blouse so others can see, at least, the top of it.)
I could feel the rush of excitement as I used my lucky penny to scratch off the numbers. Those five tickets yielded $1 in winnings.
Over the years, I have won a few dollars on scratch tickets, but not enough to offset what I have spent trying to buy a dream with a scratch ticket.
Once a friend won $100 on a scratch ticket I had given her as a sort of thank you for chauffeuring our circle of friends to Bennington for an afternoon of frivolity. She wanted to share her winnings with me, but I refused. After all, a gift is a gift.
When I buy lottery scratch tickets as gifts to enclose in birthday cards, I sometimes find the temptation to use them myself too much to resist. So back to the store I go to buy another scratch ticket.
When my granddaughter, who lives on Long Island, was working at the counter in a drug store where scratch tickets were sold, she told me that she had noticed that there were more winning tickets in the newest ones issued. From then on, I asked the clerks at Stop&Shop and Rite-Aid, "Is there anything new in the scratch tickets? But if I did get a winning ticket, it was for a meager dollar.
Once I won $20 by accident. At Stop&Shop, the machine that dispenses lottery tickets costing from $1 to $20 called out to me. Because I only had a $20 bill in my wallet, I inserted it in the slot and pushed the button for a $2 ticket. I waited for my change to come out of the slot only to discover that the machine does not give out change.
A toddler came by and pushed the button for a $5 Wheel of Fortune ticket. The toddler’s mother grabbed the child’s hand. "Get away from there," she said. Then she apologized to me for her child’s behavior. I told her it was okay as I had not decided on which type tickets to buy with the $18 I was unable to collect in cash.
At home, when I scratched the ticket the toddler had chosen, I found I had won $20. So, as it turned out, the toddler had brought me good luck. Wish I knew where she lived, so I could thank her.
The only time I ever spent more than $5 on a scratch ticket was when a relative was in dire need of a large sum of money I could not provide. I bought $50 worth of scratch tickets, thinking I surely would win a nice sum of money, which I would send to my relative. It would have better if I had just given that person the $50 I spent in vain, for scratch tickets that were worthless.
When will I learn that you cannot buy a dream with a scratch ticket?
Phyllis McGuire is a freelance writer based in Williamstown, Mass.