• author
    • Debra DeAngelo

      Columnist
    • January 14, 2016 in Columnists

    A Powerball ticket is a pocketful of hope

    Sadly, I still had to go to work today. You probably did too.

    Those winning Powerball numbers didn’t match the ones on my ticket. Apparently “hitting the lottery” isn’t a very solid retirement plan. On the other hand, neither is investing your retirement funds in the stock market, which, when you get right down to it, is also gambling. The bookies just have nicer clothes.

    Did I buy a Powerball ticket last week? Oh, you bet I did. Sure, the chances are about one in a gazillion, but on the other hand — it’s an even playing field. Everyone has the same chance to win. For one little moment in time, you hold your breath and work up the courage to see if your numbers match the winners, and you have hope. From the moment you buy the ticket to the moment the winning numbers pop out, you have the same chance as everyone else to be the ONE.

    Or, in the case of this most recent Powerball, one of three.

    I was not amongst them.

    However, I did get two of the numbers and got a fat $8, recouping all but $2 of my original bet. One way to view this is that I threw away $2. The other way to look at it is that for $2, I had two days of dreaming about what I’d do with all that money. So, for $2, I got 48 hours of hope. That’s about 47 more than I have all year in my job as a weekly newspaper editor at the Winters Express.

    Was feeling hopeful and optimistic worth $2? Absolutely! It was a reprieve from spending that 48 hours as I usually do — pondering the sad reality of choosing a career path with the financial equivalent of one that involves saying “You want fries with that, Ma’am?” all day long.

    Ah well… at least I don’t have to wear a stupid, gaudy, dumpy uniform every day that makes my skin itch and my soul bleed.

    Small consolation, I suppose.  “Small” is better than “none.”

    Like my paycheck.

    God, why didn’t I become an orthodontist.

    Quick, I need another Powerball ticket.

    Holding that ticket was enlightening. My very first thought was about what I’d buy for other people. Not myself. Wow! My first impulse was generosity rather than selfishness! For a mere $2, I discovered that I’m not a self-centered dickwad! Sweet!

    So, how would I have spent the money? Might you be on my list of Powerball beneficiaries? Let’s see:

    First, I’d buy a home for both of my kids, and pay off the mortgages for both of Joe’s kids and put $100,000 into college accounts for each of my step-grandchildren. If it sounds like my own kids are coming up short, consider that my son lives in San Luis Obispo and my daughter in Oakland. My stepdaughters live in Hudson, New York and Quakertown, Pennsylvania. For $300,000 or so in those places, you get a gorgeous four-bedroom house on a grassy green acre. For 300K in SLO or Oakland, you get a hearty laugh from the real estate agent and a map to Modesto. I’d need to give my stepdaughters a few hundred thousand extra just to keep it all equal.

    Next, I’d buy all that land north of Winters that’s planned for a massive housing development and build the most wonderful senior retirement home on Earth, with priority to Winters residents. It would have free massage and acupuncture, karaoke and pole dancing classes, and wine and cheese in the lobby every afternoon. And also cats. In fact, there’d be a wing just for cats.

    The Winters Senior and Feline Retirement Paradise.

    I might make a cat the CEO.

    Because I’m a billionaire, and I can.

    If she purrs, you get a raise. If she pees on your shoes, you’re fired.

    It sounds wacky, but there are corporations out there with less competent management. (By the way, you’re investing your retirement funds in them.)

    Maybe I’ll name the cat Carly.

    I’d start a chain of comfort food restaurants — mac ‘n cheese, PB&J, hot cocoa, chicken noodle soup, oatmeal, tuna casserole and buttered noodles would be the staples, and they’d all cost only $2 — same as a Powerball ticket. It would be my own little way of spreading the good fortune that probably only makes sense within the convolutions of my own mind. Also, if you’re homeless, you eat for free, and if you need a hug, you get one at the door. I’ll feel a lot less guilty rolling around naked on a pile of money knowing that nobody’s hungry or hurting. Or really needs some buttered noodles.

    After all that, I’d still have a nice little chunk left for me and Joe, and I’ve got it all figured out, and no, I didn’t clear it with him first because I’d be the billionaire and his only job would be to hang around and look cute, like a furry wall sconce.

    For us, I’d write a check for the Agate Cove Inn in Mendocino. Boom. Sold. It’s on the market right now for a cool $3.7 million — pocket change for a nouveau Powerball princess. The Agate Cove Inn is an aging, funky, simply wonderful B&B, with a panoramic view of the Mendocino Coast that I instantly fell in love with last summer, and we’d have it all to ourselves. But, there’s plenty of rooms for all my friends and relatives to come stay anytime they want. For free.

    Note: I mean my current friends and relatives, not all the new ones that would pop up if I won the Powerball jackpot.

    Of course, after all that lavish spending, you didn’t think I’d leave my boss out, did you? No, for Charley, I’d commission a gorgeous oak sign to hang over the front door of the Express. It would say “Abandon hope, all ye who enter.” I’d give it to him right before I quit.

     

     

     

     

     

     



    • I loved this. Stocks are definitely a form of gambling. It’s just insane! At least you only lost two bucks on the lottery. I lost tons more investing. And so we bought lottery tickets, and I also spent several days very blissfully thinking about what that money would buy. Financial security not just for me but for my daughter and her as yet barely thought of children.



      • Gambling with our retirement funds… it is vulgar. The banks have found a way to use our money, with the ruse of it being a “retirement” fund. Our “retirement” is just cash flow for stock brokers.



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