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Friday, January 1, 2010


Strange to see the date above.

Last night, working the front desk, I was reminded of one of the more dismal distractions practiced by many: gambling.

Every night, a motley crew of familiar faces limp up to the desk with a plethora of numbers racing through their fevered skulls. You'd think they were Pythagorean ecstatics but not so; they're simply in search of a wealthy deluge. They hand me stacks of tickets and listen with avid attention to the sounds the machine will make, either confirming that they've stumbled by blind chance upon a winning number, or that they've committed their hard-earned dollars to a vortex.

This is all they know. One gentleman will talk of nothing else. From the numbers on the tickets, he's worked out an intricate system of discernment when it comes to winning tickets. If he'd put some of this speculation into a discipline like quantum physics, he'd probably solve the problem of the nature of a singularity. Nothing else is worthy of discussion in his mind.

I have decided to crown this crew with the rather unflattering title, the Lottery Fiends.

I should mention also that this crowd is highly superstitious. If I sneeze they line up to get the ticket I sneezed on. Once, I faked an epileptic fit and dissolved into a paroxysm of contortions and foam and soled five hundred dollars worth of tickets. If the lights in the building flicker, they all become convinced it's a sign from God that they're meant to spend the rest of their days in inviolable decadence.

One lady crawls up to the counter in a walker and has two telescopes attached to her glasses, and an oxygen tank that requires an auxiliary tank to pick up the slack. I wonder whether she has the time to spend her millions. Perhaps it's just the thrill of emptying your pockets.

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