I’ve been playing the lottery since I was 18 years old. I buy two tickets twice a week: one ticket contains the same series of numbers every time, and the other is comprised of a computer-generated random set of digits. While most weeks none of my numbers match the ones that are drawn, every so often I do win a little something. However, today something occurred that has never happened to me before.
I walked up to the service counter of a store where I often buy lottery tickets, and handed the cashier my well-worn transaction slip. She struggled for a few seconds to get the mechanical reader to accept the paper; but after several attempts the computer finally complied, and printed the tickets.
When the cashier went to pull the tickets from the machine, she paused, and looked a little confused. After a few seconds, though, her confused expression changed to a happy one; she then reached under the service desk counter and pulled out a long plastic envelope. She placed the tickets in the envelope, and handed it to me with a bit of fanfare, saying, “Well, well, today’s your lucky day!”
I was now the one who was a little confused. What’s this about my lucky day? And what’s up with the wonky envelope?
I looked at the woman, and said, “Um, what do you mean?” She responded, “Today the computer decided to give you a free ticket! That’s extra-lucky, you know… congratulations!” And she continued smiling at me.
What? Free ticket? Whatever are you talking about?
Still rather confused, I said to the woman, “Um, sorry… but I don’t get it. What do you mean, ‘free ticket’?”
The woman’s expression changed from a smile to a look of mild pity, and she gently pulled the envelope from my hands. She opened it, removed the tickets, and spoke to me as if I were either a young child, or an older adult struggling with Alzheimer’s: “See, sweetie, you ordered two tickets just now; but today the computer decided to give you one for free, so you actually get to take home three tickets.” And she fanned the three slips of paper out on the counter, hoping that the visual display might convey what she feared her words would not.
Still confused, but now too embarrassed to press the issue much further, I nodded my head quickly and said, “Oh, okay, got it. Well, great! Thanks!” I scooped up the tickets and envelope from the counter, stuffed the whole works into my purse, and made a beeline for the exit.
Back in the relative safety of my car, I removed the plastic sheath and enclosed slips of paper from my handbag. And sure enough, once I read the mysterious third ticket, I saw:
Well I’ll be darned. Is this some sort of new development, some pilot program the state is testing to see if this action increases lottery sales? Or has this tactic been around for ages, and I’m only just now ever experiencing it? I have never even heard of such a thing, much less been the recipient of this act… Am I super-behind the times? Am I alone in my confusion?
But even more importantly, if these numbers do hit, do I have to share my winnings? 😉