People like us...

I swung the Tahoe between two yellow lines with the precision of a diamond cutter….over a decade of practice and I’ve got it!

The station attendant handed change to the customer in front of me. Her tattoos were visible below 3/4 length sleeves. A silver nose ring pierced the cartilage between her nostrils and several more studded one side of her nose.

I held up winning lottery tickets and asked, “This is the first time I’ve done this…can I cash these in here.”

“Yeah, of course,” she replied with a smile. “Can you help me out though? We need to scratch to reveal the bar codes.” She handed me a coin from the take a penny, leave a penny container.

I rubbed the coin across the ticket, but couldn’t find the code.

“Where should I scratch?” I asked. “I bought these as a novelty for my kid’s eighteenth birthday. They’ve been shuffled around the house for almost six months. I think he feels strange about cashing them in—unfamiliar. What do you think? Do I keep the money since I brought them in?”

“Yeah, definitely,” she said.

Within thirty seconds, she’d unearthed six bar codes to my one.

“Here you go,” she said, holding out a ten dollar bill. “Unless…do you want to use that to buy more tickets?”

Sharing a knowing smile I said, “No thanks.”


Wouldn’t it be fascinating to hear the story from her perspective?


The lottery was authorized in Wisconsin when I was 22. Gambling, casinos and scratch offs were never part of my environment.

Although I like having freedom to choose—to scratch or not to scratch—I do wonder who the lottery benefits.

Who wins? Who loses? Is the thrill of “might be a winner” worth the cash? Especially for those with slim wallets?

Seth Godin said, cultural truth is the one truth we can change.

In Beartown, one of Fredrik Backman’s characters said, “For me, culture is as much about what we encourage as what we actually permit.”

Culture and behavior, entwined like grapevine and kudzu, one tied to the other.