School more fun than break

By Kathleen Foody

“Let me get … 575 fifty fifty, 295 dollar dollar, a triple mega draw for Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Then … 4578, 0915 and 2174 fifty fifty – but make sure you put them on separate sheets.

“Hang on, did I say 4578 or 4587? I meant 4587. No don’t cancel it – I want it. OK, how much is that? No … that can’t be right. Oh, I forgot one … “

If you’re a lottery player, you probably understand all of that. Unfortunately, I do, too, after working as a default lottery agent.

My summer job working in the gift shops at McCormick Place, wasn’t supposed to teach me anything new.

However, part of the store’s contract was selling lottery tickets and I was the newbie, so I found myself learning what might as well have been computer coding in my word-oriented mind.

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    Everyday at 11 a.m., Sonny, who owned the shoe shine shop next door, Mary from the ice cream shop, Ariel from Starbucks (with a list of numbers from all five baristas), Norman from the kitchens, Billy from the loading docks and groups of maintenance workers and executive types would line up in front of the machine.

    Then, around 2 p.m., most of them would return to find out the midday numbers, grumble because they hadn’t won a cent and try again for the evening drawing.

    They’d call out their numbers over the beeping of the machine and I’d struggle to keep up without screwing up too badly.

    Luckily, most of the players were so superstitious they’d keep any number I’d give them just in case it got pulled. Let me tell you, there is no stress like 10 or 20 angry people yelling at you to punch in seemingly random numbers before their break runs out.

    Oh, and there were those other customers too – the ones actually buying the merchandise that went toward my paycheck.

    I was determined to make this the proverbial “best summer ever,” because it might have been the last I spend at home.

    If luck’s on my side, I’ll be spending next summer working at a newspaper, most likely in a tiny town I’ve never even heard of … and the summer after that … and the summer after that. So I went into this summer with sky high expectations – ready to make it the last real break I would ever have from school, internships or a genuine career.

    It wasn’t all bad. I did spend a lot of time with my family and some friends I haven’t seen as much during the summer thanks to all my free time minus my usual group.

    But saying I missed Champaign and all the people that come with it is an understatement. By the time this column runs, I’ll have been back for less than a week and I’m willing to bet I’ll have had more fun than in the last three months.

    Yes, I know that’s sad. No, I don’t really care.

    I would say I think this could be the best year yet, but that thinking hasn’t worked out for me before.

    Even though I don’t see The Daily Illini getting into the lottery business anytime soon, I don’t want to tempt fate. Guess some of that lotto superstition has rubbed off on me.