Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Last week, the Powerball jackpot got somewhere around 150 million dollars, so I decided to spend a dollar to buy a ticket. A few days later, I check the winning numbers and I can’t believe my eyes. I’ve won. I had promised myself years ago that I would quit my job if I won the lottery, so I marched right into my boss’s office and broke the news, “I won the lottery! So I quit! Woo Hoo!”

I decide to surprise my wife with the news when I come home from work that night. She’s somewhat less impressed when she learns that I did not win the 150 million dollar jackpot, or the $250,000 prize, or even $1,000. I won three bucks. I am sent back to work to grovel for my old job.

When I lived in LA, I always knew what I would do if I came into many millions of dollars. I would take a cab down to LAX and waltz into the international terminal. The ticketing area of the international terminal is immense. About 30 airlines fly out of the structure and you can get a nonstop flight to just about anywhere in the world.

As I write this, there are flights leaving that terminal for Taiwan, Singapore, Cancun, Hong Kong, Auckland, Melbourne, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, South Korea, and Manila. Most of the flights to London, Paris, and points east took off a few hours earlier. (I haven’t memorized this information, there’s this really cool tool that will tell you what flights are boarding at that terminal.)

Inside the ticketing area, there is a huge computerized departures board. If I won the lottery, my plan was to view that board as a menu, and pick the most exotic destination, then stroll up to the ticket booth and get a first class ticket there. I would only pack a toothbrush and buy whatever I needed once I got there. I’d come home when I got sick of it.

(There is an alternate version of this fantasy where I go to this very cool site and buy a round-the-world plane ticket, but that lacks the spontaneity of the first plan.)

Of course, there are some problems with my LA plan. First, I’ve since learned that most first class seats on international flights out of LA are sold out well in advance. Second, buying a plane ticket for immediate departure with cash and not carrying luggage is the sort of behavior that the Department of Homeland Security frowns upon these days. (When I hatched my plan, there was no Department of Homeland Security.) And third, the odds of actually winning the lottery are about one in 145 million, so it’s not going to happen anyway.

So my little plan has remained dormant, and my live has changed a lot since I lived in LA. But now the country has Lotto fever again. The Mega Millions jackpot is somewhere around 350 million dollars, and tomorrow I will drive to California and do a news story about people buying tickets.

While you’re never supposed to become part of the stories you cover, everyone at work has pitched money into a pot and I’ll buy some lottery tickets before I head back to Oregon.

As always, as I was extorting 5 dollar bills from my co-workers, the talk turned to how the money would be spent if we pick a winner. Some people said they’d quit work, others said they wouldn’t. And I realized that I don’t really know what I’d do anymore.

Recent life changes have made me somewhat less impulsive and more boring than I used to be. This week, I got a profit sharing bonus check. (My first ever!) What did I splurge on? A new toothbrush. Mind you, it was a really fancy and expensive toothbrush. But still, it was a toothbrush.

With that in mind, a trip to the international terminal at LAX with Julie and two babies seems completely out of the question. Even if I had all the money in the world, there’s nothing that’s going to make a 14 hour flight with infants any better. I’ve been on a 2.5 hour flight with them, and that was long enough.

So what would I do if I won the lottery? Boring stuff, I guess. You know, pay off the mortgage, set up a college fund, buy a solid gold potty training seat for Nate and Will. I guess I’d buy an Avid because I think they’re cool. Other than that, I guess I’d keep showing up to work… unless all my co-workers quit. There’s no way I’m going to be the last one there.

UPDATE: 3/7/07 We checked the numbers to see if we won. Through pooling resources, we were able to buy 50 tickets. We won a total of $3.

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At 1:57 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I walked into the SLC airport about a year ago with no checked baggage, bought a one way ticket with cash and got a lot more attention than I had hoped for.
I just wanted to go to Cleveland so I could drive my friend's car back home. Was that so wrong?
The trip did end up involving some immigrants of questionable status, and some seedy hotel videos, but I digress.
Anyway, beware the lotto. You're too pretty for prison.


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