Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Lottery Tales: A Literal Lottery Tale From the Mouth of a Guy on a Beeper Cart at Country Mart

I was getting Frogger tickets out of the right-side lottery machine at Country Mart on Monday, when a guy on a beeper cart pulled up to the left-side machine.

"Are you buying all the winners out of it?"

"Trying to! Not having a lot of luck lately, but I cashed in two $1000 winners on Wednesday."

"Good for you!"

"I just hate it that we have to drive to the city to do that."

"I know! Sometimes I give tickets to my friends. I tell them, 'Anything over $50, we'll split.' I gave a ticket to one of my lady friends, and she won $1000. So we drove to the city, and each claimed half."

"Yeah, and then they don't take the taxes out. It's like winning $500 apiece on separate tickets."

"Uh huh. We got our checks, and she said, 'This couldn't have come at a better time. I really needed it.' That made me feel bad for her, and I ended up giving her my money, too."

"That was a nice thing to do."

"Well, I figured she needed it more than I did."

As he was leaving, he encountered a guy at the door, and they both stopped, telling the other to go first. Beeper Cart Guy told him, "I'm sitting down. Go ahead. It won't hurt me to wait a second."

Such a different experience than my last encounter there with a beeper cart guy!

Monday, April 22, 2024

Lottery Tales: The Long Strange Trip Home

As Hick was parking at the state lottery office on Wednesday, I suggested that he reset his phone for the trip home. Perhaps "suggested" is not quite the proper word. I told Hick at least four times that he should reset his phone's directions.

"I know how to get back."

Uh huh. Hick had taken me to the lottery office at least three times, but did not remember how to get there. So I'm supposed to believe he knows how to get home??? When we left, Hick took a left turn.

"I'm pretty sure you needed a right. That's how we came in."

"I know how to get home, Val. I always go this way."

Of course it was wrong. We went under the highway we needed to get onto. Hick even said,

"That's it up there. We're going under it. I should have turned earlier."

We drove into a residential neighborhood. Hick made a left turn, and used a driveway to turn around. But instead of re-programming his phone, he pulled out onto a major road. THEN he stopped. To put the info into his phone. 

"Why couldn't you have done this on the side street? Now we're in traffic."

"They can go around. It's two lanes, and we're by these cones that block off the right lane."

Anyhoo... the phone (which I read to Hick, not wanting his eyes off the road) told us how to get back to the highway. So sad. Hick might have made it home in time for his meat loaf lunch at the Senior Center, had he only reset his phone before we went in early to our lottery office appointment.

We got back on the major six-lane highway. Made our exit onto the three-lane highway that turns into two lanes. Then Hick had a bright idea.

"I think I'll get a car wash. This car is filthy." Said the man who drives so fast on our gravel road that mud splashes up onto the windows.

We have FREE car wash privileges at the dealer where we bought A-Cad. Back in 2015. All you have to do is get in line and drive through the automatic car wash. No money needed. Of course there were other people with the same idea. Including a white pickup truck with no dirt on it whatsoever. I think that guy must drive through the car wash every day on his lunch hour. 

There were four cars ahead of us. Hick said each wash took four minutes. But I guess he wasn't accounting for the time it took each one to sit in the air-blowing part before leaving. Thus delaying everyone behind them from pulling forward. We spent 30 MINUTES getting a FREE car wash.

That might not seem like much delay, unless you are an old lady who calculates your drive time by your pee schedule. I had plenty of time for a straight drive home. But the delay was an issue. Of course Hick didn't mind. Because once we got home, he jumped out of A-Cad to use nature as one big toilet (like Jeff Goldblum's character in The Big Chill), while I had to get my stiffened knees out of A-Cad after a 2-hour drive, and hobble into the house. I made it!

Hick needs to be less hard-headed when it comes to getting directions.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Some Days You're the Tire, Some Days You're the Frogger

The Universe has been jackpot-blocking Val! I've had a couple weeks of not-winning. Oh, I can manage to win money-back on some tickets. But no good jackpots. Just the minimum. Saturday was especially trying. I felt like the star of my current favorite ticket.

At least I enjoyed moderate success, with a win from the right-side lottery machine at 10Box:

Val was exhausted from jumping through all the hoops The Universe placed in her path to achieve this $25 win on that $5 ticket. 

Let the record show that I go to the Gas Station Chicken Store every day for lottery tickets. I like the crossword, and Frogger. In addition, I go to one other random business. Sometimes Casey's, or the Liquor Store, or 10Box, or Orb K. They are all located in Backroads. I go to whichever one I feel like will give me a winner. That decision is made before I leave home.

Saturday was not a good day for planning. According to The Universe.

Gas Station Chicken Store
I pulled onto the lot, and saw a red sedan in my rightful handicap parking space. I looped around, and parked in the space behind it, next to the FREE AIR hose. No handicap plates, no placard. I just sat there waiting for it to leave. My knees were not eager to take extra steps. After three minutes, that sedan started up and left. Not sure what was going on, but nobody came out and got in with the driver.

The Gas Station Chicken Store had my crossword ticket. They were out yesterday. But they had no Froggers. The Man Owner had told my favorite cashier that people don't like them. So he put a different ticket in their slot.

Backroads Casey's
I could see there were no cars in their parking spaces, save for the maroon mini-van that belongs to the Old Gal who is nice to me. I headed over there, only to have a black truck pull in and park sideways next to my handicap space. I could still park there. But a worker and an old dude who looked like Willie Nelson in blue Dickeys work clothes were standing on the sidewalk, smoking. Cigarettes, I assume. Though it WAS 4/20. They were in the area where I would have to step up on the sidewalk, holding onto T-Hoe's hood. No thank you. Not getting out and trying to elbow my way onto the sidewalk. I left.

The Liquor Store
Not many cars on the lot for a Saturday afternoon. So I planned to go there. Except a car was coming out of the lot, taking up room I needed to pull in. AND the light changed, so I would have to wait for 20+ cars before turning left. No thank you. I got in the left-turn lane to go to 10Box.

I nabbed the closest handicap space. Went inside. The left machine was out of Froggers! So I got a crossword. But I couldn't get to the right machine because a worker and her friend were standing in front of it. Not buying any tickets. Just standing. Watching. Then the worker said, "Oh, do you want to use this?" And I said, "Yes, I'd like to get my Froggers."

That gal said she thought she saw a new Taxes Paid $5 ticket when the machine was running its video it does when people aren't using it. I've not heard of such a ticket, but they've had them in the past. Anyhoo... I got two Frogger tickets out of it. Had I known how the rest of my search would go, I'd have gotten more!

Orb K
Leaving 10Box, I figured I could stop by Orb K on my way out of town, to get a couple of Froggers. The parking space I like was taken. So I went around the sidewalk to the end, by the pay vacuum, to park and wait for that vehicle to leave. Well. There were seven cars in front of Orb K. I waited for five minutes, and NOBODY came out! So I figured there was a slow cashier, or everybody was trying to use their card and having problems. So I left, and headed back under the overpass and into town, to try Casey's again.

Backroads Casey's (2)
I could see from the stoplight that Casey's had a full parking lot. Including the handicap space. So I scrubbed that try, and pulled onto the lot of the Liquor Store.

The Liquor Store (2)
Only about five cars there, so I parked and went in. They were OUT OF FROGGERS! Such a disappointment. I got a couple of other tickets, but they turned out to be losers.

Anyhoo... at least I won $25 on one of my Froggers from the 10Box right-side machine. And $10 on a crossword from the Gas Station Chicken Store. And $5 from a crossword out of the left-side 10Box machine. Not getting rich, but it's something. It's the least The Universe could do, after thwarting my efforts in a quest to buy Froggers.

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Lottery Tales: A Token of Appreciation

When the lottery gal slid our checks through the metal trough, she also gave a little token of her (MOLottery's) appreciation to us. They didn't used to do that. However... they used to have good items you could get when you redeemed points that you earn from losing tickets. Oh, how times have changed!

The old prize system had several tiers of goods you could trade your points for. Redeem them for coupons for future tickets, or coolers, camp chairs, small electronics, picnic sets, BBQ grills. I can't even remember the stuff now, but it was worth saving your points to get the good stuff. 

The prize redemption changed several years ago. Now all you can get are tickets, magazine subscriptions, and gift cards. No actual merchandise. Just online stuff that nobody really wants. I feel betrayed.

In-store giveaways were better than the current stuff. The lottery lady was at the Gas Station Chicken Store a couple years ago, with a table set up, and a wheel to spin if you bought tickets. I won a pair of plastic sunglasses, and a little spiral flip notebook. 

Anyhoo... here's what the lottery gal gave us:

SCRATCHERS! For scratching scratchers. I don't know if I'll use one. I have my "lucky" quarter that I have used for years. No need to upset the applecart. But you can bet that I will take Hick's scratcher. After all. They were MY winning tickets, bought with my weekly cash allowance money. Hick will never miss this plastic gadget.

Friday, April 19, 2024

Lottery Tales: Inside the Inner Sanctum

I don't know the appointment times of the other two winners inside the state lottery office. Since that gal complained that everybody was showing up early, I assume they could only have been 9:50, or later than our 10:00 appointment. As I mentioned, appointments are every 10 minutes, and we got there at 9:45.

I was going to make this title: A Hick, an Indian, and a Black Guy Walk Into a Lottery Office. But I figured that would offend some people. I don't describe people out of malice, but only because I try to set the scene in my tales. In this case, showing that it's not just Missouri rednecks who play the lottery.

The Indian Guy (Asian, not Native American), was not talkative. He kept to himself, filling out his forms, then waiting for his turn. The Black Guy was more vocal. He looked at a blown-up ticket on the wall, and said, "Look at that! Wouldn't that be great to win?" It was a $50 ticket, and the win was $1,000,000. There was a 500X multiplier, for a $2000 prize.

Hick said, "I know the guy that sold that ticket!"

I figured Hick was just talking out his rumpus as usual. But I asked the guy's name, and Hick told me the name of his store. Which was listed on the ticket info on the wall. So I guess he really DID know the guy.

Anyhoo... Black Guy said he had won $15,000 on a $5 crossword ticket. I play those every day!!! But the highest I've won is $100. He said he scratched off the top puzzle, and won nothing. He was disgusted, and tossed that ticket onto his "losers" pile. Then at the end, he took it back and scratched off the bottom puzzle. He was shocked that he had a multiplier that made his win $15,000. 

What makes that story worse for me is that Black Guy got his ticket in a town near where Hick used to work, halfway between the lottery office and Backroads. Dang it! I was happy for his win. But I see a nearby big win as a sign that I'm probably not going to get a big win on that ticket.

Anyhoo... we left while wishing each other luck in the future. I'm always happy when somebody wins big, even it it isn't me.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Lottery Tales: The Payout

Wednesday, Hick drove me to the St. Louis lottery office to cash in my two scratcher winners of $1000 each that have been languishing in (one of) our safes. I've been meaning to get around to it. Really. There didn't seem like a good time, what with Hick's busy schedule of flip houses and Senior Center lunches and Storage Unit Store business and medical appointments.

One was from May 20, 2023. That game ended last fall, but you have six months from the end date to cash in a winner. It was only good until May this year! I knew that all along. The other was from Feb 12, 2024. So it still has a while to go, but better to get both done on the same trip.

Here's the thing. Stores can only cash a ticket up to $600. Anything higher must be taken or mailed to one of the four lottery offices in Missouri. They are in Jefferson City, Kansas City, Springfield, and St. Louis. It takes us 1:20 to get to the St. Louis office. We've been there before, in the days before THE VIRUS. That's when office procedures changed. I guess it was an excuse never to change back to the old ways. Which is kind of what I'd been waiting for.

Used to be, you could walk in and cash your ticket with the "teller." Occasionally, there was another person there. It's a small office in an industrial park. Two tellers. A little waiting area with counters on two walls, a lottery machine (of course!), and three chairs. There are also single-person restrooms down a little hall. One for men, one for women. Though I suppose anything in-between could use one of their choosing, since the bathrooms are singe-occupancy.

Anyhoo... now tickets are redeemed by appointment only. It's easy enough to go online and schedule. They have appointments every 10 minutes, from 8:00 until 5:00, with an hour off for lunch. However, not every winner lives just down the street from a lottery office. Traffic is unpredictable. So you allow time to get there early. And wonder what will happen if you arrive after your appointment.

There were big signs on the glass double doors, telling you that they would CALL YOU when they were ready for you. Call you? Like, on your phone? Or once you're inside? The instructions were not clear. We got there at 9:45. Hick said surely they would let us in. He wanted that bathroom. And so did I. We watched a person walk up and go in. Then another. So Hick said the doors were not locked.

Well. They WERE locked. A woman's voice out of the wall asked if we had an appointment. Hick said yes, at 10:00. The woman's voice seemed a bit peeved. "EVERYBODY'S coming early today!" Okay, Goldilocks. Can you predict traffic? Would you rather have people late? Because I can't imagine a world where every person for those 48 appointments through the day would step up to the door on the stroke of their scheduled time.

I said to the wall box, "We just want to come in and use the bathroom. Then we'll come back out! And wait until our appointment time."

Goldilocks asked our name, and then said, "Well, you can come on in and use the bathroom, then come to the counter." She buzzed the door to let us in.

Goldilocks was the only teller working. In the past, there have been two. But the other window was vacant. The tellers sit behind a bullet-proof window, with a little metal trough to slide in your paperwork and ID. 

I had our paperwork done, except I didn't know Hick needed one as well, since we each claim half of the prize. We've done that before, but I guess I'd filled one out for him then, and forgot. Anyhoo... I took the form she gave me over to the counter, and it was done in two minutes. Just name, address, SS #, phone number, amount of prize, and how many claiming it. Imagine an office pool where 20 people (or more) have to fill out their form!

Goldilocks was perfectly polite after her initial tizzy over us being early. We were out of there at 10:00, with our four checks for $500 each. 

There is no mandatory tax withholding for amounts under $600.01. So our wins were treated like a $500 prize that a store could redeem, and just hand you the cash. So Hick and I each got a $500 check for each of the two tickets. It gets reported as "other income" at tax time. If the prize was more, they automatically take out the state and federal taxes, and give you a 1099G form to not-lose by next year's tax time. They don't mail you one in January.

Anyhoo... now THAT'S done! And I'm not going to complain if I win $1000 tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Hick Calls It Black Light Bingo

I think it should be called BINGLOW!

Anyhoo... Hick said that on Tuesday, the Senior Center was going to the public library to play Black Light Bingo. It's half a block up the street, and one block down from the Senior Center. I asked Hick if they were expected to walk.

"I don't know. But I'm driving."

Heh, heh. The parking there probably put him farther away than just walking from the Senior Center. There's no parking lot. It used to be the building where I worked at the unemployment office. That parking lot has been taken over by the main post office, which is just behind it.

Anyhoo... Hick sent me a picture of the event:

Oh, look! Everyone is so happy!

Anyhoo... I asked Hick if he won a "price."

"Yeah. We had the choice of a book or a snack."

Heh, heh. I'm sure you already know what Hick chose! It was an individual pack of Oreos. By the time I found out, Hick had already eaten them.

Hick also went to play bar bingo later that evening. Didn't win a thing there. But I'm sure you knew that, too.