590 million smackaroos .
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 .
” 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 .
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 .
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 .