Mega millionaire

It is possible that I won the mega-millions lottery last night, but I’ll wait to find out. The pot has gotten huge.  Earlier this week, I was out of the office for I think only an hour, and when I came back, a lottery pool had been created, fantasies were being developed.

My boss came into my cubicle, probably to be near my full-spectrum light, which, not to stray too far from the topic, but I do feel like I work with a bunch of moths.

“Hey, Betsy, if I win the lottery, you can work at the foundation that I start.  We can give away money.”

I know.  His lottery fantasy is that he’d still be my boss.  I can’t decide how I feel about that, but I guess it could be a lot worse. 

“Hey, I’d take that job.  I think I’d be pretty good at it.”

“I know you would. We have to come up with a name for the foundation.”

At this point, two things happened:  they discovered they didn’t win, and the pager went off, summoning me to the permit center, abruptly ending the whole thing.

The man I went to help was one of those reasonable guys with a story to tell.  As soon as he started, I felt like a passenger on a long car ride through the Midwest, relaxing and safe.  If anything was going to happen in the story, I was pretty sure I’d be able to see it coming for miles, unlike the story that R. told me the other day, where six sentences in I still had no idea where we were headed.

The story involved building a house in 1985, then moving to Alaska and renting it out, but with a lot of detail that involved raising kids, fishing, the jobs that everyone’s had, and so on.

I felt like I should probably rein him in and help him focus on the aspects of the story that pertained to anything I might be able to answer, but I was getting drowsy in that ‘someone else is driving and I could just nod off’ way.   Eventually, we got to the part where he came back to evict the people because they weren’t paying rent, and the house was trashed.

He pulls out a photo album.  “So, you can see that this is where the washer and dryer were, and there’s some water damage on the floor.  I pulled up the floor….”  It goes on like this for a while, an illustrated tour of a damaged house.  I’m very content looking at the pictures and making clucking noises when appropriate.

“There’s a really bad stench in the house, so I pulled up all of the carpets, but it didn’t go away.  I’ve been working in there for weeks and it’s just bad.  I hired a neighbor – he’s an unemployed guy, used to be in construction  -- anyway, I hired him to help me rip out some of the drywall.  Sort of a win-win, if you see what I mean.”

I feel like a cat in the sun.  “Yes, I do see,” I respond sleepily.

“So the neighbor comes in and says, “That stench, Bob?  That stench is human urine.”

I so didn’t see that coming.  How long can you be a human and not recognize that smell?  Unemployed neighbor needs to name it?  I suddenly have a million questions for him, but I can’t ask any of them, so I keep my mouth shut.

He shows me photos of where the toilet used to be, and how it wasn’t working properly, so the tenants just peed all over the house.  The photos are pretty disgusting because now I can imagine the stench, and of course, the house isn’t really too far from my own neighborhood, which is disconcerting.
“So, are there any wetlands or streams on the parcel?”  I know.  We’re like, half an hour into it by now.

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Hmm, I don’t think you need to talk to me.  Let me find someone….” Is that wrong?  Is it better to cut someone off, or let them ramble?

I go back upstairs and the boyz are forming a new lotto pool.  “I’ve already done all of the gambling I can handle,” our boss declares.  “I won’t be joining the pool this time.”

“Sheesh, what about my job and the foundation, BossMan?”

“I don’t have any money to gamble with.”

“I’ll front you $5 if I get to keep my job at the foundation when you win.”

B. pops over, “Wrong. Boss, go get your money.  You don't want any confusion about who the winner is.”

We all join up, and everyone except me starts talking about what they’ll do with their winnings.  The Boss gets a little annoyed that I joined, because he feels like that defeats his reason for joining.  "Nah, I'd still work for you at the foundation," I reassure him.

I realize that I don’t have a lottery fantasy, which is ridiculous, because that's pretty much the whole the point of buying a ticket.  My sorry lottery fantasy is to keep working for my boss.  It’s possible that this is a diagnosable condition.

Maybe because I’m reading Half Empty by David Rakoff, which is about the beauty of pessimism in all it’s forms.  The take home: think harder about the worst-case scenario than the possible good things, because you won’t be so disappointed later on.

Anyway, B. asks the boss to elaborate on his lottery plans.  “What is it: vegas, girls, blow?  What’s your thing?”  Which, if you knew our loafer-wearing, upstanding Lutheran boss, would make you laugh really loud.

“No, none of that, I’ve just got to get the foundation going so Betsy will have meaningful work.”

Anyway, all of that could be in the works, but probably not.

Happy new year, everyone.


  1. Hilarious. You are a good writer. I haven't laughed so much in a long time! :)


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