I have an uncanny knack for attracting strange people and lost souls. I have many stories, (some better than this one) but this one happened just a few hours ago.
THE SHORT VERSION: On my way home from work, I stopped at a Church's chicken inside a convenience store (I feel like I'm living dangerously when I eat gas station food). While I'm eating, a guy sits at a table right in front of me with a huge stack of lottery scratch-off tickets. He scratches and scratches them in earnest. The table is covered in the metallic dust from his scratching. I noticed that each of the tickets was bought for $2 apiece. He cleaned up his mess, cashed out his tickets, and then came back with ANOTHER huge stack of tickets and did the same thing. This time when he got up, I couldn't help myself. I asked him how he did. He spit out some numbers and basically said he'd lost half his money on them each time. I said something to the effect of, "It could be worse, you could have lost all of it." I wish I'd had something more interesting to say. He was talking to me, cashing his tickets, and he hesitated for a moment. Then I think the Devil jumped into my mouth because I said: "Well, if you're playing the odds, it makes sense to stay in one place. If you keep playing, one of those cards is bound to be at least $500, right?" And then he said "Yeah, I could keep playing, and lose it all." And then he left.
I was originally going to tell this story with lots of literary details, but it ended up producing something that was way too long that I got about 3/4 of the way through and didn't give a **** about. I guess I should save it for my blog, huh?
One thing I wondered about him though.
He was a skinny black man with medium-toned, bad skin. He had some large acne on the side of his face, and numerous welts I could see on his forearms that weren't hidden by his thermal shirt. He wore loose clothes that he didn't fill out at all. His backwards hat was a grungy, variegated green color that only comes from too much washing, sweatmarks, and a film of dirt. I wondered, was he a drug addict? A fry cook? Abused in his youth? His face had good lines. He wasn't unattractive, but his eyes and complexion had begun to dull. Was he trying to make the most of the last of his money? Was he a compulsive gambler? I'll never know. I'll just spin stories off of it in my mind until I get tired. Maybe some of those stories will approach the truth, though they are somewhat divorced from fact.