Obamacare is just another lottery


ELSIE is a woman who works three jobs, one at a law firm organizing documents, one at Coors Field taking tickets, and one at Sam’s club where she gives out more samples than any of the other employees. She’s got a loud southern voice with the slow, soft cadence of a natural storyteller. The last time she bought a lottery ticket was a month ago when the Power Ball reached a record high of 1.5 billion. She used to play once a week, but she was never up late enough to see the winning numbers on TV and so in the morning she would collect the paper from her porch and diligently ruffle through to see if she had won. She did win once, 40 dollars. And almost 200 another time, but her friend who she had sent to purchase the ticket with her lucky numbers never actually did. “If I had won the million, I could have killed him and no judge would condemn me,” she says dryly. “We laughed about it, that’s all.”

Buying a ticket has become a ritual of hope, like a prayer. “It’s nice to imagine,” she says. She thinks of who she would help if she got the money. She wouldn’t move, or change much about her own life. She plays because she likes to imagine giving it all away, all but a little for retirement. She would give some to her nieces and nephews, her co-workers, and she even said she would give some to me. Talking about it for a few minutes with me was enough to brighten her hopes, and she told me, as we were saying goodbye, “you know, I’m going to buy a ticket tomorrow.” Continue reading