So you lost the winning lottery ticket?

There’s a lot of horrible things capable of happening to us in today’s world; terrorism, diseases, a really long line at Chipotle.  However, we are often caught up in everyday annoyances that the grand scheme of things tends to become clouded.  What if you missed an important job interview because you were in line at Chipotle?  That’s a pretty big deal.  What if you missed the birth of your second child because you got malaria?  Well, that’s also awful, but you can always just have another kid (provided you are malaria free, of course.)  But then, there are mistakes so horrible, so irreparably terrible that the prospect of righting the wrongs is impossible, and it ruins your life in the process.  I am, of course, talking about losing the winning lottery ticket.

So you’ve won the lottery?

Well, not really.  You won like $25,000 on a scratch-off.  Still, that’s a significant amount of money, and it can be well spent on responsible, frugal purchases like paying off loans, investing in some stocks, and purchasing a new garage for your jet-ski.  You can’t wait to cash that ticket and collect those winnings.

But wait, you can’t find the ticket?

Okay, well, that’s not an ideal situation, but it can certainly be remedied.

Step #1 – Search for the ticket

Eh, you probably just dropped it somewhere.  Check your car, your pants, the floor of your apartment…anywhere you feel you might have misplaced it.  It’s gotta be somewhere.  A persistent search will probably produce some favorable results.

By now you’ve conducted the aforementioned lengthy, thorough search that has provided exactly zero favorable results.  This leads directly into the next step.

Step #2 – Re-evaluate your positioning

While there are worse things than losing $25,000 (such as birthing a malaria baby) it’s hard to envision a comparably terrible situation in these circumstances.  First, conduct some mental inventory:  Okay, you scratched the ticket off in the car, realized you won, and immediately resorted to some sort of spastic victory dance.  Naturally.  Next, for some unknown reason you entered a separate building to purchase a celebratory victory drink and donut.  Why you couldn’t just re-enter the same locale that you purchased the winning lottery ticket will forever remain a mystery in hindsight, but in the present you need to just work with the knowledge you have.  Okay, so did you bring the ticket with you?  No.  Great.  That’s good.  Did you lock your car?  Also no?  Do you realize which part of town we are in?  Yes, that’s right, that part of town.  If you refuse to make eye contact with the residents why on earth would it be considered a reasonable decision to leave a $25,000 lottery ticket in the car?  Okay, okay, but you were only in there for a few seconds, and nothing else is missing from your car.  This is good.  However, you now notice your wallet is missing after buying your donuts with spare change from your car. This is not good.

Step #3 – Immediately panic

By now, you’re down a $25,000 lottery ticket and your wallet, which contains several credit cards, your license, $47 dollars, and most importantly, your Giant Eagle advantage card.  So as far as being out of luck goes, you are now the poster child.  Take a brief moment to sob in your car and collect your thoughts.  A large, burly man walks slowly past your car, peering through your windshield as you pollute your dashboard with soggy, manly tears.  After realizing the burly man has watched you (and very thoroughly judged you) it’s time to put a plan into action.

Step #4 – Plan of action 

Okay…so now what.  You have no wallet, no lottery ticket, and no more dignity after a sheepish display of masculinity in your car.  Additionally you have no leads, no clue where the ticket could be, and no….wait a second.  That guy.  The guy in the parking lot is picking up something on the ground.  That’s my wallet.  He opens the wallet, examines the $47 (because of course he does) and then folds the wallet back up.  You breathe a sigh of relief.  Thank god he left the Advantage Card.  Then, he opened the wallet back up and emerges with a colored, worn-out piece of paper resembling a…..oh. My. God.

Step #5 – Tail the culprit

So, it’s time for some mental inventory: you have sights on the guy who has both your wallet and a $25,000 lottery ticket, it’s the middle of the day, and we are near a busy highway.  This is advantageous.  Additional items to consider: he looks like Marshawn Lynch’s more terrifying brother, you aren’t in a safe neighborhood, and you have no leverage in this situation.  This is not advantageous.  He is clearly stronger than you, possibly able to kill you with a single punch, so a physical confrontation is out of the question.  However, you have a car.  He does not, check and mate.  He begins walking towards the road, walking parallel towards the other end of town.  You then pull out towards the end of the lot, sitting inconspicuously as you watch him until it’s safe to enter the highway.  You pass a questionable apartment complex.  Doubts arise.  He walks past the sketchy complex.  Prayers answered.  As you continue following him, in your car, like a coward, you watch as he enters the exact same gas station where you purchased the lottery ticket.  It probably wasn’t a great idea to leave the receipt in the wallet.  You bought the ticket from a machine, there’s no way they are gonna ask for this guy’s ID.

Step #6 – Time to man up

It’s decision time; do you man up and confront the thief or do you go buy a new wallet and just be thankful you still have a life.  You then remember you can’t buy a new wallet because you lost your old wallet.  You ponder the paradox this unfortunate situation has created as you reluctantly settle on door number one.

Step #7 – Moment of truth

You enter the gas station, hoping for the best but expecting the worst.  At best this guy will realize he’s been caught and give you the ticket.  At worst you are about to be horribly murdered.  With little grey area existing you walk right up to the counter where this guy is showing the clerk the winning lottery ticket.

“Hey,” you shout, trying your best to avoid crying and/or voiding your bowels.

“Oh, hey, you’re the guy,” said the clerk.  “This guy was trying to return your wallet.”

“Yeah man,” said the thief.  “You left this receipt for this store in there and I saw it from like 15 minutes ago so I figured I would walk down and see if maybe the store clerk recognized you,” as he hands you the wallet.  “I saw that lottery ticket and there and figured the owner of that would be wanting that ticket back, so it’s a good thing we found you.”

By now, the feelings you are experiencing will certainly be mixed.  Do your best to avoid crying for a second time in a 15 minute period, as to not completely emasculate yourself.  Graciously thank this heroic stranger for his amazing deed and give him the $47 at the very least, you monster.

Step #8 – Cash the ticket

“Dude, this is a convenience store,” says the clerk.  “I have $50 in this cash register.”

“So you’re saying I can’t have $25,000,” you foolishly suggest.

Visibly frustrated, the clerk instructs you on how to acquire your prize, which involves mailing the winning ticket into the Pennsylvania lottery committee or whatever and they will cut you a check, shaking their fists knowing you swindled a bunch of old people.

So, you run to the post office to buy some stamps, but before completing the transaction you reach into your back pocket to grab your wallet, look up in horror, and break down into pathetic, gut-wrenching sobs.

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