Like Lottery Scratch-Offs? Public Service Announcement

Who doesn’t like lottery scratch-offs?  You know, it’s about the thrill of the chase.  Yes, we’re chasing down the almighty dollar.  

And, when it comes to scratching off the ticket, people are funny. 

As a matter of fact, when it comes to lottery scratch-offs, it seems like everyone has a system. I know I do.  

  • First, I’ll uncover the winning bar code.  Gotta make it easy for the guy behind the counter to pay me.
  • Then, I scratch off the winning numbers.
  • After that, I begin to scratch my numbers beginning at the bottom right corner, starting with the prize, followed by the number.  
  • Finally, I travel around the card in a zig-zag pattern, after which I fill in the ones that I missed, in order from the top left.

I told you people are funny. Here are some other examples.

  • Some players can’t be bothered finding a coin and meticulously scratching the whole card.  They’re perfectly fine with using their fingernail to uncover the bar code, after which they check right away to see if it’s a winner.
  • Others will use their lucky quarter to frantically scratch, scratch, scratch the ticket until it’s all clean.  Then, they’ll take a quick glance at the card to check the numbers. This is always followed by a small smile (winner!) or a small frown (aww shit!). 
  • Look for the Stephen King short story, “Luckey Quarter” in this book available on Amazon. You’ve gotta shop at Amazon. Here, read the Dance Safari post, “6 Reasons to Shop Amazon That Will Have you Smiling“.
  • My Dad would make us crazy with the lottery tickets.  He’d make himself comfortable on the couch, take out a coin, and scratch off maybe 2 or 3 numbers.  He’d stop and have a cup of coffee and a cigarette. When he was good and ready he’d pick the card up and scratch a few more off.  Repeat coffee and cigarette. Over and over until finally he was done. Accordingly, it was now time to study that sucker like a medical research scientist looking for a cure.  

One time, when I lived in Florida, I almost threw out a winning card. 

Lottery scratch-offs machine
Purchase your Florida lottery scratch-offs here.

For that reason, I began hoarding lottery scratch-offs. And, I mean I kept all of them, winners and losers.  Whenever I wanted a little extra cash for a quick trip to Las Vegas, I’d go to Publix with a big stack of tickets and proceed to check each one out. 

I was never again gonna chance tossing a winner.

With that said, imagine my consternation today when I took a very small stack (6 tickets) to a gas station here in Raleigh to redeem them.  After the gentleman scanned them, he gave me $21 and handed 2 tickets back to me. He said they weren’t in the system.  

“Huh, what does that mean?”  “I don’t know,” says he, “maybe they’ve expired.” 

lottery scratch-offs that have expired
Too late!

Here’s your public service announcement.

Don’t hold on to lottery tickets. It’s a sure way to turn a winner into a loser.

In order to solve the mystery of the tickets that weren’t in the system, I went to the North Caroline Education Lottery website. There I found a page where you can check to see when a game ends. In addition, it tells you the last day that you can redeem an expired game. I missed it by 2 weeks. Ugh.

There went $35 down the drain.

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