Bad Bets and Good

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I think a couple of dear friends were trying to torture me recently. 

Ya see, scratch-off lottery tickets are such a good idea to give to people. But if you are the recipient do not, do not, bother doing any scratching. You will lose and then end up annoyed that you’ve got nothing but lottery ticket dust. You’ll curse your lousy luck and then grumble about how hard the cards are to read or figure out. Wait, match what? What are those symbols? Is that a loaf of bread or a gold brick? I need how many matches? Give me a magnifying glass.

Some games require a 12th-grade reading level while making you feel like you’ve just eked your way out of fifth. Nothing makes you feel dumber than re-reading the instructions on a scratch-off card. Well, except for re-reading it a third and fourth time.

You’re bound to get more than a little annoyed at the whole rigged New York State Lottery. I even have to fight the urge to be a little annoyed at the gift-givers — what are they giving me these bad luck things for? They trying to make me feel dumb — and unlucky?

Of course, I sometimes give lottery scratch-offs as gifts but I don’t mean it as torture. I figure my luck’s so bad the only way my tickets can win is if I give them to someone else. I figure every time a friend has changed their phone number or moved, it’s because I gave them a winning lottery ticket.

Although I’m getting so old, my odds are getting better. I’d swear they rig the thing so Win For Life really means Win For Months.

And speaking of old, one thing I never win is the Graybeards Pot o’ Gold raffle, but I’m gonna keep trying. We hear about how the state lottery money is supposed to help education. Yeah, right. But the Graybeards run a raffle and raise money so they can turn around and give to those in need.

The organization is almost twenty years old, having started after 9/11. The Graybeards, I’m happy to say, are homegrown and still vigorous.    

At the annual dinner dance last Saturday night, the group’s president, Joe Keenan, read a list of those the Graybeards helped in the past year. It was pretty awesome. Because the event is fun and a great chance to meet old friends and make some new ones, it’s easy to forget why you’re there, which is to help fund the group and its efforts. A scholarship, money to tide someone over, an emergency cash gift. These things can make all the difference for people.

Now, I might get a little jealous of who wins the big pot, but I know the bigger the pot, the better it is for people in need. So, here’s a big tip of the hat to the guys (and ladies) who make the big night happen. I’m no gambler but The Graybeards? They’re people you can bet on. And I’m lucky to know them.

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