In my younger years I worked at a petrol station and met a lot of different people. Some strange, some kind, some easily forgotten and then there are those that despite me not knowing their name, I genuinely cared about their situation and said a prayer for them. The lottery lady was one of those.
She came at the same time on the same day of every week wearing the same clothes. Big brown clogs on her wide feet. Her long skirt fitted around her round shape and only left her bare ankles showing its freckly skin. Although it was still warm from the late summer nights, a loose earthy toned long sleeve shirt and an even bigger scarf covered her top half. Grey unruly hair framed her colourless face but she always greeted us warmly.
Hopeful, she’d say,
“That one for $20.”
We all knew which one. Nine green rectangles with dollar signs on them. The same one each week. The way she dressed had me pre-judging her to be financially strained but I’m sure in those days I simply called her “poor”, and with that label I never knew why she would spend so much money on the lottery. Seemed like such a waste. She quickly and eagerly scratched her card before I even had her money in the register.
She tapped her penny on the counter when she finished and said,
“Oh nevermind. Maybe next time.”
She never won but she did always come back to try again. One night I finally asked her where she was coming from this late at night every week.
“My daughter is in the hospital.”
Her eyes stayed down and I felt her fighting back tears. That was all she would say, and we didn’t dare ask more. Her visits were always short but with that extra information, her quick exit felt so wrong and awkward.
Now that we knew something was troubling her we had decided that next time we would do something or have something nice for her. I was excited and imagined how happy she would be.
When I think back, I sadly don’t remember exactly what that “nice something” was but I do remember that as we waited for her to come at the same time on the same day she always had, this time she did not come.
Even now it really pulls at my emotions because there was no closure. What happened to her daughter? Did she get better and go home or was it bad news? Did she run out of $20 dollar bills? Is she okay?
I continued to work at that petrol station for another six months but never saw the lottery lady again. But I could never forget her because she had so much mystery and emotion about her.
Each person’s life is full of stories and when I cross paths with certain people, I just want to hear theirs. Listen to them, cry with them, be happy for them. There is so much we can learn from each other.
This one had no ending to satisfy the reader. As is with many things in life and sometimes that’s the reality of it.
If I am to learn one lesson from the experience of meeting the lottery lady, is that I should not have taken so long to talk to her. Time does not wait for us. It keeps ticking, people’s lives keep going and the world keeps turning whether we are paying attention or not.
Need to live with no regrets.