She looked over, and I saw her face go through the same startled recognition I'd just gone though. Then she grinned and said, "Hey! What are you doing here?" Her eyes fell on my hands, "Buying dinner?"
I smiled sheepishly, following her glance to my styrofoam hotdog container. "Yeah, basically, yes. Dinner... and desert!" I gestured dramatically, first with the hotdog in my left hand, then with the bottle of Nyquil in my right hand. "Still trying to shake this stupid cold, it just won't leave me alone."
Every now and then, I get an obnoxious craving for one of those awful 7-11 hotdogs. this evening it struck me as I was driving home. I have to put tons of stuff on it, all the stuff they offer -- chili, cheese, ketchup, mustard, and onions tonight. I can't believe I eat such things... fortunately a creation this nasty will keep the cravings away for months, even years!
"And what are YOU doing here tonight?" I asked her.
"Picking up my lottery ticket," she said, her sheepish smile mirroring my own. 7-11 is full of guilty pleasures, I guess. "I have to pretend I have a chance, you know."
"Well, I'll see you tomorrow." Then I joked, "Unless you win, of course!"
"Oh no I won't win, don't worry."
I wanted to ask, "Well then why are you bothering?" But I didn't. Instead I just laughed, waved, and headed out the door.
I have always said that the lottery is just a tax on people who are bad at math. I've never understood: why would people throw money away at something which is less likely than being struck by lightning?
But as I drove away, I reflected about this. "I have to pretend I have a chance," she said. Maybe it's all about playing imagination games. Maybe it's about hope, and giving yourself a chance to dream. Wishing on stars, believing in the impossible. Maybe a dollar a day is worth a little extra hope in your life.
(But I still think that saving that dollar a day will lead to more long-term fulfillment -- even if you're giving up that short-term chance to dabble in hope and miracles.)