I have strange luck. This morning, I probably would have called it bad luck. But that's not really accurate.
You see, this morning, I lost $12. Or, to be more precise, it fell out of my pocket somewhere between my apartment and the escalator on the red line at Judiciary Square, mere steps in front of the Firehook where I get my morning tea.
Needless to say, I wasn't amused. I mean, $12 won't break me or cause me to go without food for a week or anything, but it's enough for my morning tea and either lunch or -- as is more typical -- my takeout from Noodles & Company. Or, to put it into a clearer perspective, it's the cost of a baseball ticket (at least until next year).
After that, the day progressed as usual. It didn't really get worse, but it wasn't a fantastic day either. Work is busy. More ups-and-downs with my grandfather. Yadda yadda yadda. And I had to leave early to pick up my dry cleaning.
When I got home, arms filled with dry cleaning, I found a peculiarly large box sitting in front of my door. It was clearly not the Snoopy Snow Cone Machine I bought for $4.74 on ebay for Justin's upcoming birthday. So, I pushed the box out of the way, opened the door, threw the dry cleaning on the couch, and kicked the box into my kitchen.
I looked at it closely -- it was properly addressed to me. So, I grabbed the scissors and opened it up.
Inside, it had one of those fancy gift baskets, wrapped in cellophane, decorated with glittery stuff, and -- most importantly -- filled to the brim with things from the Virginia Lottery.
I had forgotten that, while I was freezing my butt off at Virginia Gold Cup, I visited some of the sponsors' tents -- and one of them was for the lottery, where they were having a drawing for a prize package.
The prize included a t-shirt, umbrella, rain poncho (would have been useful at Gold Cup) pen, paper clip holder, drink coasters, and a tote bag -- all embossed with the Virginia Lottery logo. The basket also contained $50 worth of lottery scratch-offs.
This is particularly funny, as I am not much of a gambler. The occasional friendly poker game, and maybe some blackjack -- with a budget -- if I'm in the proper environment and mindset. My mom, however, enjoys gambling. She plays cards with her girlfriends all the time. She often invites me to go with her, but I decline. This is because when I was a kid, she used to play bingo at the synagogue while I attended Hebrew school across the parking lot. After classes were over, I'd come over and sit with her, and that was, inevitably, when her losing streak would start.
Strange luck, remember?
So, of course, after discovering my prize, the first thing I did was call my parents to tell them of my luck. I then started scratching the tickets.
The first card was a $20 card. I never in my life would have bought a $20 lottery scratch card, but fate put it in front of me. And I won $25.
The rest of the tickets were $1 tickets. I did them five at a time.
The first five -- Nada. Zip. Zilch.
The next five -- two were winners. On the first, I won twice, for $1.00 each. On the second, I won five times, for $1.00 each. Then I lost on the rest.
I then lost three more times in a row, and then won $1.00, then lost again.
So, then I took a break -- during which I talked to I on the phone to tell her the story (since she's the one who brought me to Gold Cup), ate some dinner, and started writing this blog entry.
As I type this, I'm up overall $21 on the day (taking into consideration my $12 loss) -- with fifteen more scratch cards to go.
Update: On $50 worth of tickets, I won a total of $58. Of the 31 tickets -- including the $20 game -- 9 were winners. Of the winning cards, 4 had multiple wins. But alas, only one of the winners had a "multiplier." And, of the $1 cards, only once was the stated prize amount more than the face value of the ticket.
There was no discernible pattern to the 30 $1 cards (which were sequential serial numbers): 5 losing cards, 2 winners, 6 losers, 1 winner, 2 losers, 1 winner, 3 losers, 1 winner, 1 loser, 1 winner, 2 losers, 1 winner, 2 losers, 1 winner, 1 loser.
I learned that lottery scratchers are boring and repetitive -- and ultimately, at the end of the process, I was glad that there were only 31 tickets, and not 50 $1 tickets. But most importantly, I learned that you're only likely to earn back your investment 26.67 percent of the time.
Update #2: I found the original $12 early this morning, and promptly proceeded to spend it on shoe repair and, as originally planned, my morning tea.