Report From PIA – December 19
One winter day when my boys were ten and fifteen years old, we went to the grocery store and as we left the youngest begged me to buy a scratch ticket. “Oh, honey,” I said, “they’re a waste of money. Only a very, very few people win anything.” I then went on to tell him that I’d heard someone say that scratch tickets are “taxation of the stupid.”
He continued to plead, so I came up with a plan. We’d buy a ticket and when it came up empty it would prove to the kids that we might as well throw the money out the car window. “OK,” I said, “this one time so that you’ll see that nothing comes of them. You pick one out.”
To my horror he chose one that cost $5.00! I began planning what I’d say once we lost. “Think of what else we could have done with that five dollars that would have lasted so much longer…” We paid for the ticket and took it out to the car.
The grey coating was scratched off and what I saw had me puzzled. Since I’d never purchased such a ticket before, I wasn’t sure that I was seeing it right… I couldn’t be sure, but I thought the symbols meant that we’d won $500.
“Let’s stop at the convenience store on the way home,” I said, “and we’ll see what the clerk says about it.” I parked in front of the Cumberland Farms and went in with the ticket. The boys waited in the car, watching me through the plate glass windows. “I’d like to know if this is a winning ticket,” I said, passing it across the counter.
The man standing by the cash register took the square of paper and looked at it. “Yup,” he said, “this is a good ticket. It’s worth five hundred.”
“Oops,” I answered, taking the ticket back, “What am I going to tell my kids? I bought this to prove to them that scratch tickets are a waste of money.”
The clerk glanced out to my car, where the boys were eagerly trying to read what was going on in the store. He gave them a thumbs-up and turned to me, saying, “You tell them the truth. Sometimes you get lucky.”
I was remembering this incident as we drove back to Cape Cod last night, returning home from a week in San Francisco. We were talking about how cold it was, and shaking our heads about the low temperatures in Massachusetts the previous night. Twelve degrees…so cold for December!
Suddenly I remembered the crates of dahlia tubers we’d left in the shed…the cold side of the shed. We’d piled them there in November, so that they could dry out before we packed them in newspapers and cardboard boxes for storage in the garage.
Neither my husband nor I had gotten around to boxing them before we left for California, but we didn’t that would be a problem. It seldom dips much below thirty degrees before the end of December in this area, and the tubers would be protected, even on the un-insulated side of the shed.
We hoped and prayed that they’d still be all right. As soon as we got the suitcases in the house last night, my husband brought the crates of dahlia tubers into the garage. Maybe we’ll be lucky, I thought, and find that the dirt surrounding the clumps insulated the tubers.
This afternoon, I pick them up and examined each of the thirty clumps. They were all soft, dark and mushy. They’d frozen solid, and soon they’d start to rot. We’d lost them all.
So here’s the truth: Sometimes you get lucky, and sometimes you don’t.