The Day After I Won The Lottery
Yesterday, I won the lottery. I’m talking big numbers! Millions! Even though it’s the day after my win, I haven’t gone to the shop to claim my prize yet. I want to keep my anonymity and go to a shop where no one knows me and hear the assistant say, ‘You’ve won ten million pounds.’ How will he (or she) say it? In awe? Or in a shop assistant’s everyday bored voice? Will they even notice? I bet they will.
I decide to go up to town to claim my prize. It’s only an hour on the train. As I arrive at Victoria station I take a slow, sauntering walk towards the newsagent’s shop. I’m savouring every minute, because this is the last time I’ll do this as a penniless, unimportant person. After this, I can go anywhere and do anything I like. No more dead end jobs, struggling to make ends meet. I can even give to charity – I’d like that, I can do whatever I want.
I wait in the queue quivering with excitement, it takes a while to get to my turn and the bored assistant looks straight through me as I hand him my lottery ticket. I’m so excited I almost scream. Calm down, I tell myself. This is your moment, savour it.
The assistant puts it through the machine and says, “No luck this time,” in a flat, disinterested voice. He screws it up and throws it in the bin.
“No,” I shout, “please check the numbers again.”
He looks at me for the first time and smiles a little smile as he fishes in his bin for the scrunched up ticket.
“Here you are,” he says.
“This is the wrong ticket,” I protest.
“It’s the ticket you gave me,” he says, looking smug.
“How can you tell that?” I ask, “You’ve got lots of tickets in that bin.”
“It was on the top, that’s how,” he says increasing his smugness.
I’m starting to hate him.
“It’s not my ticket” I repeat, “I’m not leaving until you find my ticket. Fortunately, I’d written the numbers down, and I showed them to him.
“These are the numbers on my ticket. Please find it.”
“I can’t do that,” he says, “I’ve too many people waiting. You’ll have to wait until I’m free.”
“I’m not moving from this spot until you find my ticket. You should never have scrunched it up and put it in your bin before asking me if I want it back. How do I know you won’t claim my ticket for yourself? Saying that it is not a winner is not enough, prove to me that it’s not a winner.”
His supervisor comes along. “What’s going on here?” We tell him. Me with my story and Mr Smug with his. “We can’t look through the bin at the till,” says the supervisor.
“Well, I’m not moving or letting that bin out of my sight. He’s trying to trick me and take my winnings. He knows I’ve got all the numbers and won the lottery.”
The supervisor takes the bin from him and says, “Let’s go through the bin together. Follow me to the back office.”
He clears a desk and empties the bin on it. “Now,” he says, “what are your numbers?” With my heart beating so fast I can hardly breath, I show him my piece of paper. “Right, let’s go through checking them together.” We unscrew each ticket and check the numbers. No luck until we come to the last ticket, all scrunched up small and tiny, like a miser’s purse.
We smooth it out and check the numbers. “Yes, that’s it. “Oh, thank goodness,” I cry, relief flooding through me like a flash flood.
“Come on,” I say, unable to take the smile off my face, “let’s check it with the machine.”
He takes me to a spare machine and puts the ticket through. “There’s your proof. ‘No win’ it says.”
“What? That’s impossible. My ticket numbers and the numbers on the screen match.” Why can’t you see that? Are you all crooks here? Are you going to do me in and divide the proceeds between you?” I realise I’m getting hysterical.
“How dare you suggest such a thing,” he says all indignant now. “I insist you take that back.”
“I will not until you prove that I haven’t won.”
“The machine never lies.”
“Look, here’s your ticket and here’s the machine’s numbers. The machine and the ticket have the same numbers as you say, but look at the date on the top of your ticket and on the machine. They’re different.”
“Different?” I shout out. “The dates are different?”
“Yes, look this ticket of yours says Saturday, 7th April and the machine’s date says, Saturday 14th April. So although you have all the numbers correct, the date on the ticket is for last week’s lottery draw. Therefore, it’s not valid for this week’s draw.”
The next thing I know, I’m being fanned by the supervisor as he tried to lift me up from the floor. “I’m sorry,” he says.
Then, I’m waking up in an ambulance with an paramedic leaning over me. “I should have won the lottery,” I keep saying. “My heart is breaking – do you mend broken hearts?”
“No. But I can tell you that I’ve seen many people in this ambulance who have lost their lives. But you – all you’ve lost is money. You’ve got your health, there is nothing more important than that, believe me.”
I look at him blankly, is he serious?
He looks back and our eyes lock. A funny feeling comes over me and I start to tingle all over. He takes my hand and says, “I see so much death in this ambulance that I know money is not important. For to have money without your health is as fruitless as an orchard without bees.”
I swear I start to buzz.