A Life Changer

A Fool In NH Column Heading

Reprinted from Brendan’s book “The Flatlander Chronicles.”

When you win something like this, people suggest it is best to keep quiet about it. It’s a good idea to wait and first hire an attorney, get an unlisted phone number and all of your affairs in order before making the announcement to the world.
I’m sure every Tom, Dick and Harriet will be oozing out of the woodwork trying to sell me on their charity or group and how badly they need my generous donation. There will also be new old friends with their hands out, as well as long-lost family members you never knew were even gone.
Still, I don’t care. I am throwing caution to the wind and shouting it to the world: “I Won Powerball!!”
It didn’t hit me at first as I checked my numbers against the winning numbers printed in the newspaper; I didn’t have any of them. My eyes wandered over to the right hand side of the ticket and, sure enough, my Powerball number matched the number in the newspaper exactly. To make things even better, I had played the Powerplay option and so my prize was multiplied four times.
I took a deep breath and checked the number again, fished out my calculator and was hit with what felt like a ton of bricks when I saw that I had won TWELVE DOLLARS!! (Nine dollars and fifty-seven cents after taxes. I am, like most of you, an honest citizen that reports every single dime I make.)

At first, all sorts of thoughts drifted through my head. Should I call my family and friends in New York to tell them the news? What would be the first thing I would buy? Should I invest it? Should I give half to a charity I believed in? Should I quit my job?
My head began to spin as I considered all my options.
The thing that concerned me the most was what would happen when I brought the ticket down to the convenience store to collect? Would there be news crews waiting for the winner to come and collect his prize? Had one of the reporters from the local television station been camping out all night drinking coffee and eating jelly donuts waiting for my arrival? What about the local papers? Would they splash my name all over the front page and, worse yet, would they spell it incorrectly?
When I arrived at the convenience store it seemed like business as usual. There were no news trucks, no reporters. It was just the girl at the counter who had sold me the ticket a few days before.
I knew she might be impressed. She was from another country and I’m sure that when she ran the ticket through and it announced “Congratulations. You’re a winner!” and then saw the amount I had won, she might look at me in a different light. My friend, Vinnie, once told me that in some countries twelve dollars could last you a lifetime.
She took the ticket, ran it through the machine, listened to the announcement, stapled something onto the ticket and asked: “Do you want to have more tickets for this?”
“Don’t I have to fill out a form or something?” I asked.
“No form, just ticket. How many?”
“You don’t need my Social Security number?”
“Number? You need number for car wash?”
I told her I’d just take the cash and left quietly.
I took another look to the left and right as I exited the store; no news trucks or reporters waiting. There was probably a big fire somewhere or one of the presidential candidates must be shaking hands at a Bean Hole Bean supper somewhere.
I took the twelve dollars home, placed it on the kitchen table and stared at it for a long time. It had been quite awhile since I’d seen so much cash in one place that actually belonged to me. It’s at this point that I decided to write this column.
I’m still not sure what to do with the money yet. I have heard stories of people whose lives were ruined after winning Powerball. I started to understand why as I felt that sense of reckless abandon begin to swell up inside me.
I am determined not to let that happen to me. That’s why I am announcing it now. I feel it best to get that anonymity of who the winner is out of the way so I can suffer the consequences and then get on with my life as quickly as possible.
As far as how I will end up spending my winnings, that is still left to be seen. I’m just glad that I won the money at this stage in my life, living a comfortable existence in New Hampshire. I know my experience and maturity will come in handy.
A six pack of an expensive microbrew seems like a good investment for the time being.