The Jinx

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I spent a Saturday afternoon talking with a fellow teacher while our students attended a seminar. He boasted that he had won a great deal of money in Las Vegas and the casinos in Louisiana. He told me that he had never purchased a lottery ticket without winning at least a small amount. He bragged that he was one of the luckiest men around. 

I told him that I never win anything. I gave up wasting my money at casinos long ago. I don’t even give myself a twenty dollar limit. It would be like setting the money on fire in an ashtray. I’ve received scratch off tickets at Christmas parties where almost everyone won at least a dollar, but not me. Our family has a tradition of handing out envelopes with money inside ranging from two dollars to fifty smackers. I’ve been drawing since I was maybe seven years old and have never received more than two dollars. I don’t gamble or bet, because the odds are pretty good that I will not win. 

The fellow teacher insisted that he if were to purchase a couple of scratch off tickets for me I would be certain to finally win. After we had dropped safely brought the students back home to the arms of their parents we met up at a service station that sold those things. To prove his point he told me that they would be a gift to me. He wanted to use his own money to show that he had the lucky touch. He confidently went inside and purchased two tickets and rushed back out to see what he had won for me. 

He took a quarter out of his pocket and even flipped it into the air before scratching on the surface of the card. He became more and more frantic as he came up with nothing indicating a win. He laughed lamely and insisted that this had never before happened to him then he smiled and began scratching the second card assured that he would find his winning streak again. When it also appeared to be a dud he excused himself and walked back in to get two more cards. Neither of them yielded a win either. He looked at me as though I was a Jonah on an ill-fated ship. 

Undaunted and wanting to prove his point he announced confidently that that he was going to purchase two more tickets but this time they would be for him, not for me. He came out of the store smiling and whistling. He began scratching and found a winner almost immediately. His good luck seemed to relieve him greatly. When the second card proved to be a winner as well. He literally heaved a sigh of relief. He looked at me and announced with great gravity that I must be the unluckiest person he had ever met. “Don’t ever go with me to Vegas!” he laughed as I reminded him that I had told him so. 

I am not a superstitious person but life has taught me that probability works against me when it comes to any games of chance. I once went to Las Vegas with a friend who was having a really bad day at the slot machines. That evening we both retired early and she vowed to do better the following day. When I awoke in the morning she was snoring away, so I went to breakfast without her. She met me later with a big smile. She told me that she had snuck out of the room the previous night while I was sleeping and had won over four hundred dollars. She laughed and said that she would be doing any future gambling without me. We spent the day sightseeing instead of playing any of the machines. That evening when she was alone she won a bundle again.

I have a very bad reputation as a bad luck jinx. While people admit that it is totally silly to accuse me of such a thing, their experiences with me lead them to actually believe that such things are possible. I’m glad it is not an earlier more superstitious era or I would surely be viewed as a witch or some other terrible character. The reality is that I get no joy in investing my money in games that are built to take my hard earned cash. I don’t play them often enough to finally get the bag of gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s not that I am unlucky, it’s just that I don’t play the odds often enough to finally get a pay off like other people do. 

I might invest in a really good stock or place my funds in a CD that pays good interest, but I just don’t like tossing money away. I would much rather give it to a charitable cause or even a political campaign. I work too hard to just fritter my earnings away and so going to a casino for any reason other than eating a nice meal or watching a show, it just not for me. 

Once in a great while I do buy a lottery ticket when the winnings get really high. I imagine what I will do if for some unlikely reason I actually won. Most of the time I think of giving most of it away to worthy people and causes. I like my home and might make a few improvements on it, but I doubt I will move. I’d like an electric car and the ability to travel the world. I’d give my university money to improve academic programs or to create scholarships. I would never gamble any of it away, but it it’s a card game where I can use strategy, I find that I have a good chance of winning. That is about as far as I will go.