October 11th, 2009

This is one of those deals that could only happen to me.

First let me say: I do not play the lottery. I’ve never even purchased a lottery ticket (if you don’t count the time I bought 50 back in 2002 when a bunch of us at work bought a fair few because the pot was so big. We didn’t even win back the cost, dangit.).

My parents were in town recently and bought a pre-generated ticket and hit three numbers on it for a win of $100. Back in their home state, (even though they have the same lottery) some doofus told my father he’d have to take the ticket back to the state where he purchased it in order to cash it in.


My father sent me the lottery ticket which I stuck into my wallet and promptly forgot about for a couple of days. Remembering as I headed out for a Spin class at the gym, I grabbed it and my debit card. I figured if I was going to stop to redeem the ticket I’d get gas at the same time. Sounds reasonable, right?

Spin class was brutal that night: It was an Anaerobic Endurance ride which basically means you burn a bazillion calories and run very high heart rates. By the time I got off the bike I could barely walk. So basically it was a great ride!

I gathered my gear and then headed home, remembering as I hit the exit ramp near my house that I needed to go cash in the lottery ticket. I diverted from my normal route home and stopped at a local gas station.

I am a pay-at-the-pump kinda girl. I never go inside a gas station unless I’m on a road trip and need to use the facilities. Truth by told, gas stations creep me out: all that sugar & fat (read: cookies, candy and chips), tobacco and (usually) a lone check out clerk. Stir in gas and a cashbox and you’re just begging to be robbed.

At the pump I whip out my handy-dandy debit card when I get to thinking: first of all, I’d already warned my father there was a hefty handling fee on his lottery winnings.

Second, I was going to cut my father a check for the money he was going to get. I reasoned that instead of topping off my tank to the tune of $30, as well as paying out the winnings, I’d just take my gas as my handling fee. I hit the “Pay Inside” button on the pump.

After gassing up, I went inside and approached the clerk. “I need to see if this ticket won and redeem it,” I say.

He points me toward some laser device on the wall. “It’s right there. You walked right past it.”

Well excuse me. Do I look like someone who plays the lottery all the time? (Not that there’s anything wrong with that…..obviously someone wins sometime.)

I shuffled back to the little reader and after a moment of fiddling with the stupid thing: this is harder than ringing your own groceries at Wal-Mart, I did confirm that I had indeed won $100. Or rather my father had.

I brandished the ticket to the cashier and he seemed abashed to realize I’d actually won more than $2.00. He subtracted out my gas purchase and I was on my way, feeling rather superior for some unknown reason…..

Flush with cash, I stopped at a liquor store: I’d just accepted a new job so I wanted a bottle of Martini & Rossi’s Asti Spumante so Mr. J and I could celebrate the next evening. (Basically we have a crap palate and can’t abide anything but the sweeter wines, thus no champagne: too dry.)

When I got home I logged onto my bank account and cut my dad a check for his winnings: the full $100 – what kind of daughter do you take me for??

A full 24 hours passed before I went to make another purchase and realized my debit card was not where it belonged.

I spent the better part of two hours retracing my steps. I knew I had it in my hand before I decided to take my cut from the winnings. I dumped out my purse, my gym bag, turning my car almost upside down, etc. I went back to the gas station, the liquor store: No card.

As an aside, I had called my bank and confirmed that there were no fraud charges and had the bank put a temporary hold on the card like a responsible citizen.

That stupid, stupid card. Where could it be?

When I returned home after my fruitless searching Mr. J had arrived home. We once again turned the house upside down until finally, after two bottles of bubbly, we declared defeat and called the bank to report it lost or stolen.

I fully expected that stupid card to come dancing (literally) out of my bedroom two minutes after I hung up the phone. Because isn’t that what usually happens??

In a strangely circular logic sort of way (similar to the chicken and the egg scenario), it was a good thing I’d had the winnings from the lottery ticket to tide me over until my new debit card arrived, otherwise I wouldn’t have had any cash (though I suppose I could have bummed money off of Mr. J). On the other hand, this whole thing would never have happened if I hadn’t broken my routine for that stupid lottery ticket.

Just so you know, because surely you’re wondering: the debit card was in Tahiti having an affair with my Social Security Card – which I couldn’t find for my first day of work on my New Job!