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  • Writer's pictureMichael Apollo Lira

If I won the lottery

If I won the lottery


I would not tell a single soul.


And I would learn how to pickpocket.


The world around me would become my game to play, and its people my purpose.


Just how much could I get away with? How far could it go?



I shared this thought of mine with a cashier today at the store.


Back when I was a cashier, I remember people sharing all kinds of thoughts with me. It's a peculiar dynamic, the cashier-customer one. People talk at you, and you get to stand there and be the recipient. Hopefully they say something that you can participate in, but sometimes it's simply you standing there while a person talks at you about whatever seems to be compelling them to talk at you for that moment in human history.


My cashier today got to hear about how I would learn how to pickpocket for the betterment of humanity if I won the lottery.


I am notoriously bad at picking good lines to wait in. At the gas station, at the store; anywhere that people queue up, you can count on me to choose either the slowest one, or the one that will run into some kind of weird hiccup or snag. It's like having a superpower, except it's neither super nor a power.


Today was no exception.


Just as the older woman ahead of me started getting her items scanned, she realized that she had forgotten something and hurried back into the store to find it. I exchanged a smile with the cashier while she scanned the woman's items.



After bagging the woman's items, we both looked about to see if the woman was on her way back. A minute or two passed, the cashier shrugged, and she then saved the transaction before starting to scan items from my basket.


"That's a neat trick, saving that for later" I commented.


We chit-chat. Though if I'm holding someone verbally hostage, I try to make it either pleasant or interesting (unless they are naughty).


We talk about the lottery. I tell her that I would learn how to pickpocket if I became that rich. Then I could just spend my time slipping money into peoples' pockets without them knowing. How ridiculous and great would it be for someone to randomly discover a $100 bill in their pocket without any logical explanation?


I love a good deed. But what I love even more is a good deed with an element of playfulness or mischief. I don't know why. Good deeds are often accompanied by a mischievous itch for me.


Time to pay now. I thank the cashier.


I noticed that the woman hadn't come back yet and was still somewhere in the store, trying to find whatever it was that she needed. I looked over at her bag - just the basics, really. The rogue in me started getting itchy.


"...what was the damage on that woman's bill?"


"Oh, uh not that much"


I looked at the bag of groceries for a moment.


And then I'm in Scotland. It's about 10 years ago, it's late, and it's cold. I'm standing outside on a cobblestone road in Edinburgh, waiting in line with a friend for our turn to order food and drink at a popular spot. The man in front of us appears to be quite tall, but he's sort of stooped forward and obscured by his dark clothing. When it comes time for us to order, the man ahead of us stands upright (and stands now easily over 7 feet), turns around and faces us. We are all looking at each other, in this extremely strange silence. Instead of moving out of the way or stepping aside, he very slowly and deliberately bends forward and downward, toward my friend, until his face was about 6 inches from his, and stared at him silently for a moment.


"So I die fighting a giant in Scotland for my birthday," I thought. "Not the worst."


"I'm payin' fer ye," he informs us.


He un-stoops from our peasant height and stands upright once more. We remain where we stand, still stunned and alarmed, though that was quickly now overshadowed by our subsequent feelings of relief, awe, confusion, and gratefulness.


Huh...what a nice man.


I'm in the grocery store now, back from Scotland.


"Let me pay for it - before she comes back. Let's mess with her a little."


The cashier liked this idea very much.


Good deeds live on through the continuation of more good deeds. I hope that woman goes on to do something kind for a stranger, too. Or perhaps she already has. Maybe this good had been waiting to happen to her and I in fact did choose the right line to stand in. Maybe today, getting in that line actually was a superpower in action.



I'm not rich. But I live a life that affords me some room to do good deeds for others.


I don't need to win the lottery to be that person.


...I can still dream, though.




 

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lauradoman
١٣ فبراير ٢٠٢٣

What a lovely, brilliant blog, Michael! Absolutely love it. Your story is not one easily forgotten and it is certainly inspirational.. Thanks for sharing!

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Michael Apollo Lira
Michael Apollo Lira
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That is a very kind and sweet thing to say, Laura. Thank you for taking the time to share such an uplifting comment!

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thevoice
thevoice
١٣ فبراير ٢٠٢٣

A great blog post, Michael. I applaud your desire to playfully and anonymously bless others. Luckily, it doesn't require a ton of money to put into practice. How much does it cost us to smile in greeting to a stranger? Open a door? Offer to help? A tiny thing can have a big impact. We never know when we are lifting the spirits of someone who is having a bad day—or a bad life. It could be that our little gesture reminds someone that good does exist in the world. Who would argue the value of that? Plus, the truth is, there is an awesome dividend for us also as our hearts and minds take a more outward focus with…


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Michael Apollo Lira
Michael Apollo Lira
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I NEED there to be more good people in the world than I am aware of. I've been needing to remind myself that it really takes very few people with bad actions to make the world seem like a much worse place overall. I think, at the very least, most people are not bad. I think only a very small handful are outright rotten, but rotten tendrils tend to have quite the reach. I think I look through or past a lot of the "grey" or neutral/"not bad". If I stopped and observed, I think I could find a lot of quiet good out there, too. More than anything, I think I just need those reminders.

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Josh Alexander
Josh Alexander
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Ha! Just plain awesome. Quite unlike The Grinch’s agenda: “4:30…solve world hunger…tell NO ONE.” I love what you did, MAL. It was Super AND a Power. What was it that Willy Wonka uttered at the end of the movie as he slid his hand over Charlie’s surrendered everlasting gobstopper in his “half-office”?


“So shines a good deed in a weary world.”


Thanks for shining a good deed in a weary world. I look forward to you covering my next grocery bill.


*turns to cashier* “ONE OF EVERYTHING IN THE STORE PLEASE!!!” Granted, you’re no lumbering and intimidating giant battle-worn Scot, but just you be a lamb and grab my grocery bill next. Baaaaa.

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Michael Apollo Lira
Michael Apollo Lira
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The world FEELS WEARY. I don't remember hearing that quote, but I most certainly like it. You are full of great quotes, my friend! I can count on you for many things - wonderful quotes being just one of them. Speaking of covering things - CAN I PLEASE PAY FOR OUR NEXT LUNCH?!

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Gary Mason
Gary Mason
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I wouldn't tell anyone either, probably just so more people wouldn't come out of the woodwork thinking I should share it with them. Not that I wouldn't share...I would...I do NOW...I just wouldn't want people trying to get close to me because I'd won the lottery. Like you, I'd try to find a way to bless them without anyone knowing it was me.

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Michael Apollo Lira
Michael Apollo Lira
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Historically, winning the lottery is often very bad news. There are countless "horror" stories about there about lottery winners whose lives were ruined by it all. If ANY shred of information makes it out there that you've won the lotto, the life you knew is done. You get to live with a big (figurative) bullseye on your back for the rest of your days. Money changes the way everybody looks at you and treats you. Family, friends, strangers, more strangers.

You're right to want to help people. And you're even more right to want to help them in the safest/smartest ways possible. Thanks as always, Gary!

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