What Would You Pay for Your Heart’s Desire?

by Debra Chappell

Weather Today:  Raining Buckets (In the time it’s taken me to write this post, it has turned to snow and we now have about 2 inches!)

View ‘from the front porch’ (of cabin):


Mood Reading:  ZZZZ.5  (Got a great night’s sleep last night!)

Even though I slept great last night, I woke up to pouring rain and the disappointing realization that I’m NOT the world’s next g’zillionaire.

Two days ago, that wouldn’t have bothered me — that was before I, like millions of other Americans who shelled out over 1.5 BILLION dollars, caught the lottery fever and the chance at my very own pocket full of dreams.

Living in Nevada, gambling is usually no big deal – you learn early on the odds are never in your favor and most of us living here quickly got over the novelty of slot machines in the local grocery store the minute we took out our mortgages and put down roots.

But for some reason, this lottery was different – even the most seasoned and cynical of us got sucked in when the stakes reached record levels — $640 million dollars.  The irony here is that you could not buy a lottery ticket in Nevada – you had to travel to California (in our case, just a few miles to the border) to purchase a ticket.

So there I was, driving this past Thursday up to our mountain cabin for the weekend (which happens to be in Northern California) getting in a day early to meet a guy to repair the dishwasher.  In my “ignorance is bliss” state of mind, I couldn’t figure out why there were lines of people and a traffic jam at the normally quiet little Pay and Pump I routinely pass, just over the NV/CA border.  I thought they must be holding a rock concert or maybe sponsoring a benefit bar-b-que for the local chapter of the Kiwanis Club. When I pulled into our little mountain town, I noticed a few extra cars in the parking lot of our local grocery store but nothing out of the ordinary for 10 minutes to closing time on a Thursday night.

It wasn’t until my friend Paige called me yesterday morning that the symptoms of the fever first appeared.  “Deb, are you at the cabin already”, she asked urgently.  I told her that yep, I had arrived the night before and was now waiting for my repair guy.  “I have a huge favor to ask,” she continued.  “If the lines aren’t out the door – do you think you could go to town and buy me $20 worth of lottery tickets?”

Up until that moment, I’d pretty much ignored all the hoopla but that was before the pot reached $640 million. I thought, if I’m going to get tickets for her, I’ll throw in $20 myself and if either of us wins, we’ll split it.  “DEAL!” she exclaimed and we both hung up with a growing sense of anticipation and excitement.  That’s when the symptoms intensified – I started thinking of all the things I could do with $640 million dollars.  So apparently, did Paige and the rest of the entire country.  While I was waiting for the repair guy, we called each other a half of dozen times with our plans, ideas, dreams and hopes.

Not wanting to wait until late in the day and what would likely be extended lines at the checkout, I finally left a note on the door of the cabin for the repairman saying I suddenly needed milk and would be back shortly, and raced into town to buy our tickets.

When I arrived, there were only about 5 people ahead of me and I recognized one of the locals at the cashier counter paying for his chance.  I jokingly called out to him over the others in line “Hey Paul, if you win – you can buy me a drink!”  The guy in front of me turned around and said, “Hey, if I win, I’ll give you a million bucks!”  We all laughed, knowing our chances were nil but somehow hoping all the same.

When I talked to Paul a few minutes later in the parking lot, he said that if he won, he’d like to donate a new wing to the Veteran’s hospital where he’d recently been getting some physical therapy.  What struck me is that this was the common sentiment among most everyone that bought a ticket.  From what I have read in the local paper and heard on TV, is that most of those interviewed listed helping out someone else first before spending it on themselves when asked about what they would do with the money if they won.

When my husband Steve arrived in the late afternoon, (after the repairman had come and gone and Paige and I had talked a few more times) he walked in and threw his own ticket on the counter.  He said Jenn, his office manager, had sent her husband to drive to the border to purchase tickets that afternoon and he sent along $10 too. He couldn’t resist either.  We spent all of dinner discussing what we’d do with the money.  He said he’d buy all his employees any car they wanted, would give every blood relative a million dollars, would buy his parents a one-story house so they wouldn’t have to use stairs, would pay for them to fly first class from England with a personal doctor to visit us, and then and only then, mentioned throwing a heck of a party for all his friends hiring no less than Stevie Winwood, Eric Clapton, and his local favorite, Tommy Castro to come and play at it. And would pay off the local police so they wouldn’t come break it all up because of the “noise” as well!

Now, most of us who don’t normally play the lottery, gamble or otherwise take foolish chances with hard earned money, know in our hearts that the likelihood of winning such a prize is zero to none.  We know it, but there’s still that little hope in the back of our mind that says “What if…”

It’s exactly as Jenn told my husband yesterday — it’s that little “What if…” that gives us hope and possibilities and the chance our wildest dreams could come true after all.  For a few days or even a few hours at least, it’s that chance that makes it all so fun and for the small cost of the ticket, so worth it.

Yesterday, I had that feeling for a few hours.  Next time, I’m going to buy my lottery ticket a few days in advance.  For the same price, I can dream, imagine, fantasize and hope to my heart’s content for a few days longer.   Where else can you enjoy that good bit of fun on such a grand scale for just a few dollars?