I worked in retail store for a month and lottery was the thing that fascinated me the most.
I had just arrived in Irving, Texas. I was ambitious, to say the least. I polished my resume and looked up online for jobs. I applied to at least 30 of them. I was fairly confident that I would get a job as Web Developer somewhere around the area. However, life had different things planned for me.
After waiting for about 3 weeks and listening to the skeptical view of the roommate, I finally decided to go to one retail store to get “training” as the sales associate. It was a long night shift ( at least, it felt like that ).
Only thing I knew about America was from TV Shows and YouTube videos. I didn’t have the first-hand experience of how American culture worked or how people were. I was pleasantly surprised as the recent media portrayal of America was not the same thing that was happening here.
Somewhere around 12, an old day came and asked me to check the lottery and handed me some tickets. I was really new to this country and had no idea how lottery or any of that worked. I asked my friend to do that. He showed me how to do that and checked the tickets that old lady had bought. He sadly informed her she didn’t win. I could see her excitement level going down. Still, she managed to pull up a smile and thanked for service and left.
This particular incident was already a cultural shock for me as in the country where I grew up, no one would get up at 12 am to go to a gas station. And here was this old lady who was there just to check her lottery tickets.
After few days, I decided not to work there as I didn’t like the working hours there and luckily ended up at another gas station within a week.
While I didn’t work night shifts at this station, the lottery situation was same. Days went by and I noticed a stream of regular customers whose sole purpose of visiting the store was to get the lottery ticket, scratch tickets or to get their tickets checked.
I hardly saw people under 40 buying lottery. Most of the time they were the elderly persons or some group of people who did the minimum wage job. Every day, a group of people would come who would get their food and would have a lot of tickets to be checked. I would see the same disappointment on their face when they go back.
One incident I clearly remember is when a guy came and bought $200 worth of lottery scratchers. I was already blown by the guy’s enthusiasm. Then he came to back to get another set of same tickets. After coming for the fifth time and getting the same tickets, he didn’t come. My manager who was nearby asked if he won anything. She went on to tell how this guy had bought same sets of lottery five times yesterday as well.
I never like to tell people what is right or what is wrong. I just try to observe and draw the conclusion which obviously may be wrong.
The people I saw buying lottery every day like a ritual were living their life in a hope. A hope that someday they will wake up to see themselves winning the lottery and so that they won’t have to work anymore. Most of them were already in their 70s, 80s; still, they had this hope of winning the lottery and probably living the life they always dreamt of. I guess it is the same hope that keeps people keep going during tough hours.
For me? I never believed in hope.