590  million smackaroos .

I don’t buy lottery tickets . I know , I know : ” You’ll never win if you don’t try . ”   And , after all , someone wins .  Someone gets a pile of money .illustration 5

It isn’t worth it to me . First , buying lottery tickets is a form of voluntary taxation . I don’t really mind paying taxes . Only when I have to , though . I don’t volunteer to send in more  , even a few bucks more .  I suspect that much of my tax money goes places I don’t like , unfortunately , but such is the nature of the beast .

But this powerball event ………. I wouldn’t buy a ticket or two for this one for sure . Too much money . T’would ruin my life . I’d drive myself crazy with that money plopped in my bank account all of a sudden . I’d be nervous . It would over-tax my measly imagination .

I’d , first and foremost , put a million away in a separate account . Just in case . Just in case it all went poorly with the rest of the winnings and the funds  somehow disappeared .  In case , for example , if my financial adviser ( don’t you think that I should hire one ? )  absconded with the cash . Poof ! Gone .  It happens .

Twenty years ago I still might have gone down an if-I-win  list : new car ( too late , though ; got one already ! ) , a boat , a nice wool suit ? .  I used to have a wish list . I don’t remember all of what might have been on it . But I had a list  back there in my tiny little brain somewhere taking up valuable space .

I was hitchhiking along Highway 1 in the 1970s , back even before it was PCH , when  it was still the Pacific Coast Highway . Long after it was the King’s Highway , though , the Camino Real , the Royal Road .  But the original bells were still there , before they were eventually  stolen one by one , and disappeared . I think there are new replacements along there now , cheaper metal perhaps , probably with tiny anti-theft devices , cameras , etc .  The first bells were placed in 1914 . They were hanging from poles shaped like Franciscans’ walking crooks .  A man driving a new pickup truck picked me up . I was in Malibu someplace . He tried to make conversation .mission bell

” If you inherited a million dollars , what would you do with it ? ” he asked .

I tried to resist answering . I was put off by the uselessness of such a contrived topic of conversation . Uninteresting . He urged me on , pressed me for an answer . I plumbed the depth of my brain .

” Okey . I guess I’d buy a new car ,” I reluctantly suggested .

” Done that ,” he said .

” I might buy a boat .”

” Done that ,” he said .

” What are you trying to say ? ” I asked . And so he told me . I forget the amount now , but he had recently inherited a fortune from an aunt . He had quit his job , bought a truck , bought a cabin cruiser . Who knows what else .

And he was bored silly . He had been a fireman , and he had liked being a fireman .  He kept the truck , sold the boat , went back to work . He had stuck the inheritance  in a bank and lived as he always had  . It was a story I still remember with a sense of awe .

So , what if I won the Powerball millions ?  Would I do as the fireman had ? No way ! I know that about myself ,  and therein lies the problem . Too much pressure to spend millions frivolously . Too little will power .

I’d have to give most of the money away . Let someone else worry about it . But , that might be irresponsible , an inconsiderate shifting of responsibility to others . I’d worry about that issue , too .head of blond girl

I’m afraid that , in the long run , I’d become a Mr. Brown . He was an old codger I once knew . I used to read to him once or twice a week . I’d read his mail to him ; write replies . He was nearly blind , old Mr. Brown . He lived alone in a wornout old Spanish style house  in  downtown ( Los Angeles ) that he’d built for himself in the 1920s . Poor old Mr. Brown , I thought .drawings 2

I used to walk with him along Beaudry , past the Phone Company , along Temple. He’d shop at Central Market for vegetables ; longed for the days when the streetcars were there to take him over ; cursed the gangs and the transients in the neighborhood nowadays .

He had a billboard of his own that faced the 110 Freeway . He’s spray paint political messages on it , right-wing stuff . Strong opinions . The thousands of freeway commuters through downtown each day could see his scrawled slogans . They could  wonder about  the oddly -themed  graffiti there on that strangely -positioned wooden sign , right up at eye level against the lanes of traffic . Mr. Brown was a character .

He once had me write a letter to a friend of his in Scottsdale , Arizona . He dictated slowly , thoughtfully , affectionately . I wrote down his carefully chosen words . When I then asked him for an address he told me to write General Delivery  on the envelope . I told him that the envelope needed an address , a number , a street . He argued with me .  ” Everyone in town knows him ! ” he insisted . ” Send the letter .” It’ll come back , I assured him ; it’ll come back . And then I thought to ask him when was the last time he had been in Scottsdale , Arizona .

” 1914 ,” he said .  He was back there again at that moment , I guess . And we sent the letter. I tried to explain that Scottsdale has changed since 1914 , but Mr. Brown would have none of it . A few days later , of course ,  the letter to his friend came back .  Poor old half-crazy Mr. Brown .

And then one day his  property tax bills started coming in . Turns out that old miser Mr. Brown  owned properties all over the downtown area . And then the bank statements  began coming in . He had T-bills , $10,000 a pop . I  saw eight of them . I’m sure more came in on the days I wasn’t there at his house . Poor old Mr. Brown .  The wealthy miser .

So I don’t buy lottery tickets . A pile of unnecessary problems I avoid . And also , were I too lose , I save a few bucks . I’ll buy a good beer with the cash and call myself lucky .illustration 10

1 Comment

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One response to “powerball

  1. Oh, there are a lot of things I’d do with the millions. But, most of the money would be for other people I know who could use some help. I feel very blessed and really don’t NEED anything. But, after I helped a lot of less fortunate souls, I might take some art classes. But then again, I didn’t buy a ticket either.

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