Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Taking a Gamble

by Anna Jones Buttimore

First off, let me say that - forgive me - I am glad I don't live in America. I returned just a couple of hours ago from visiting relatives who live halfway across the country. This involved an exhausting four-hour drive. That's quite as far as I ever want to have to go in one day. My sympathies to those of you in the US of A who have relatives "out of state" and think nothing of a road trip lasting several days.

But what I really wanted to talk about was Gambling. Like any good Latter-day Saint, I don't gamble. Well, not much. I bought a raffle ticket as part of the entry requirement to a school fete earlier this month, and won a bottle of champagne which I then generously donated back to the school. I like to think they will re-raffle it, but suspect there was, in fact, some unnatural merriment in the staff room on the last day of term.

My other foray into the sin of gambling came in the latter part of last year. The jackpot to the Euro Lottery was up to £92 million (that's about $150 million I think) and finding myself in the Post Office with a pound in my pocket, I decided to indulge in the right to dream for a day, and I bought a ticket.

In my 24 hours of planning exactly how to spend such a huge sum, I discovered some interesting truths about myself. For example:
  • However rich I was, there is no way I would ever have any plastic surgery.
  • Similarly, I would never send my children to private schools (or public schools as we call them over here, just to confuse the Americans)
  • I am nicer than I thought - the plans which most excited me were those involving anonymously paying off mortgages or giving large cash gifts to friends and deserving causes.
  • However much money I had, I would never buy a brand new car. Probably a car that's one or two years old (as opposed to the twelve-year-old car I currently push around), but never something straight from the production line. I just couldn't face seeing it depreciate by half its value as I drove it off the forecourt.
  • There are no houses currently for sale in my area - even with asking prices of over £1 million - which I like well enough to tempt me to leave the home I currently live in.

What I really learned about myself, then, is that I don't actually want or need £92 million. I think discovering that was well worth £1.

The punchline to this is that I won. I got four numbers out of the six, and won £6.10. So despite a considerable return on my investment for my foray into gambling, I shan't be doing that again. Hubby Dearest (who is an accountant, and thus genius) says that the National Lottery is "a tax on people who are bad at maths".

Here's a conundrum, though. I confessed my sin to the Bishop and he said that buying one lottery ticket was not a serious enough sin to keep me out of the Temple, unless I really felt that I was fixated with greed and love of money, and thus not worthy - not the case, I think. So I told him how much fun it would have been to write a cheque for tithing of £9.2 million, and he replied that he would have been unable to accept it since it was the proceeds of gambling. This means that at my next Temple Recommend interview, I would not be a full tithe-payer, and unable to enter the Temple. In other words, according to my warped logic, gambling is not a serious enough sin to keep you out of the Temple - what is really heinous is winning. (Don't all write to correct me at once.)

Anyway, I promise faithfully never to gamble again (unless it's the only way to get into the fete), however much I find myself longing to pay off your mortgage.


Gale Sears said...

Dear Anna,
Your blog was hilarious! Thank you for starting my morning with a chuckle. I too gambled ONCE, and learned a huge lesson about the dark side of the gaming industry. Funny memories.

Jennie said...

I'm not a gambler. I think it's because I'm pretty good at math, not good at losing, and too cheap to consider throwing money away a fun activity, no matter the odds. I like knowing what I'm getting for my money whether it's overpriced or a great sale. I liked your blog though. I suspect most of us have played the "what I'd do if I suddenly received a million dollars game"; some of us have even upped the ante to suddenly, miraculously acquiring multiple millions. Somehow it's kind of nice to look at these daydreams and realize most of our dream money would go to help those we know who are struggling, endow scholarships, pay off morgages, etc. Somehow aligning ourselves with the "good guys" makes our avarice a virtue rather than a vice.

Valerie said...

What a fun blog, Anna. It also taught me something about being grateful for the things we don't have or need even if they sound like a good thing. I've let money become too important and I need to look at my life and see the blessings I have with or without money (although I am looking forward to the day when I can actually pay my rent before it's due instead of 2-3 weeks late). Still, I have gas in my car and an interesting job and some great company at home (my kitties and my ever-entertaining niece). And I love your logic--I'll have to pass that along to my sister who still has a fantasy of winning Publishers Cleaning House but she values the temple and paying tithing enough that I think your blog will set her straight.

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

Anna, thanks so much for the laugh! I love your logic.

Jeri Gilchrist said...

Okay, I needed a good laugh. Anna, this was a great blog. Like Nancy, I loved your logic.