Sunday, December 09, 2007

So Close

I'm barely awake...I have only read the front page of the newspaper and in a few minutes plan to go back out on the porch to leisurely read the rest before going to church. However on the second page of the newspaper is a story about how someone in northeast San Antonio won the thirty-million dollar lottery last night.

I don't play the lottery, but Amy will occasionally - usually to my muttered consternation. Yesterday, as were traveling across town to spend the afternoon with a friend, we stopped to get Amy a fountain drink (with extra extra ice) and she bought a scratch off lottery ticket. I stopped muttering when she revealed, "We won 20 bucks!"

"We" as defined in this situation does not necessarily mean I will share in that minor bounty...although I did get her to foot the bill for a "Blizzard" at Dairy Queen on the way home.

When she won the 20 bucks she also mentioned she had purchased a lottery ticket for last night's thirty-million dollar drawing. I will admit for many years it was our tradition to buy a lottery ticket in small towns because it always seemed like the winners we read about bought their tickets in some obscure little town.

Anyway, the thirty-million dollar winning ticket was purchased not in that small town on the outskirts of San Antonio where Amy bought "ours" but rather at a store in northeast San Antonio...on the nearest road of significance to our home.

It's about 5 or 6 miles from us, in an area we travel almost daily.

So it goes. The important thing is that it started my day with a laugh...and a memory of something I wrote many years ago, in pre-blog times - which I sent to family and then-friends. I've re-printed it below.

Remembering where your true treasures reside, that's a nice way to start a Sunday.



I have a lot of somewhat mundane duties in my job, for instance, each Thursday morning I must determine if there has been a winner in the Wednesday night lotto game and write the story accordingly. It's usually a two-line story, "Some one's rich in Houston!" or "You didn't get lucky last least not in lotto!” I've written that story once a week for years and years now.

If perchance there is a local winner, I play it up much bigger and we go out and talk to folks about what they would do with all that money. We also try to find the store that sold the winning ticket.

This morning I deduced that there had been a winner. I came to that conclusion by utilizing my seasoned journalistic skills; I took note of the Texas lottery billboard on loop 410 on my way into work, and noticed that the top prize had reverted back to 4 million from the 48 million the day previous.

When I got to the office I scoured around and determined there were actually two winning tickets sold, one was purchased in Addison near Dallas, and the other was sold in Balcones Heights. Coincidentally my office is in Balcones Heights, a suburb completely surrounded by San Antonio in which there are very few convenience stores. I was well pleased with this since it meant I could send out a reporter at 6 a.m. and have stories on the air right away because there was no travel time involved.

Did I mention there is a lotto pool at my office? Some employees kick in a shekel or two when the lottery prize gets up above 20 million dollars. We pool our money with fanciful dreams of having mutual retirement anniversaries. I confess I have succumbed to this temptation occasionally. There is some guilt involved, but it's offset by the stark fear that I could come into work one day and find everyone else rejoicing in their new found wealth. I would of course be glad for them, but I'd rather be glad WITH them, so I play along.

Even at two or three in the morning, the synapses within the gray matter under my hair occasionally fire off in a manner that result in me coming to some conclusions. This morning I was factoring that there are only a few convenience stores in Balcones Heights, my office is in Balcones Heights, there is a lotto pool in my office, and there is a convenience store next door.

I joked around with several co-workers, most of whom had opted not to play in the lotto pool and were kicking themselves. Then I went about my business without giving it much more thought. I did send out a reporter to do the usual story, and she reported back a short while later that she had found the store where the winning ticket was sold. The Diamond Shamrock next door to the radio station.

At that point a lot of folks in my office started getting spiritual, not necessarily in ways that would be pleasing to God I suspect.

I will admit I started doing calculations in my head...half of 48 million, cash value option works out to about 12 million, split between 31 people, deduct taxes...200 thousand dollars each????

I could get our fence fixed; pay off the cars, Joey and Lisa's college? No problem! God would get His share I promised!

The co-worker who runs the lotto pool arrived around 8:30, only to be swarmed by folks wanting to know if she had bought the tickets, where she had bought them, and if she had checked them.

Despite the fact this woman works for the largest out of home media corporation on earth and works in a building where there are 6 radio stations, she had not heard any news. She was oblivious to the story, and had not checked the tickets. They were locked in a safe in her office. That safe soon became the modern day version of a golden calf. We were all huddled around it praying.

Out came the tickets, and we started comparing our numbers with the now sacred ones that had appeared on ping-pong balls the night before. There's a 2! There's a 4!..... There’s a....uh...oh...hmmm.

We checked all the tickets, purchased at the store where the 24 million dollar ticket was sold, right next door to my office...and we came up empty. Not even 3 dollars.

I share this story for a couple of reasons. First, you don't hear many Sunday school teaching Baptist Deacon's telling their gambling stories. More importantly, however I think I've found the spiritual lesson in all this, and God didn't require any more of my brainpower than I'm obliged to use at work deducing if there's been a lotto winner.

When we finished going through all those losing tickets, I noticed something unusual. I was smiling. I wasn't really upset about not winning the money. I laughed it off easily.

The very first thing I thought about was how I wanted to share this story with people I loved.

I am far richer knowing all of you than I could ever be with any lotto prize.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.- Luke 12:34