'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
IS HE REALLY UNLUCKY?
Did you hear about the guy who missed out on a big lottery jackpot? A group of state office workers in Albany, NY, regularly pooled their money to buy lotto tickets, with the agreement that if any of their tickets ever won, they would split the money evenly between them.
Well, a few weeks ago, Michael Kosko, who usually participated in the office pool, decided not to join because he had no spare dollars in his wallet that day and, as he explained afterward, he “didn’t feel very lucky.”
I guess you could say he was NOT very lucky. It turns out the office group had the winning Mega Millions ticket that week, which was worth approximately $319 million. For the seven office workers who did participate, it worked out to a lump sum payout of almost $30 million each, which ended up being about $20 million per person after state and federal taxes were taken out. (Twenty million is nowhere near 319 divided by seven, but it ain’t chump change either!)
Now just think for a minute. What thoughts would be going thru your head if you were Michael Kosko? Would you be sad, depressed, and/or frantic? Would you be consumed with weeping and gnashing of teeth? Would you spend every waking moment (including at 3 a.m. lying in bed staring at the ceiling) overwhelmed with regret, constantly saying to yourself, “Why? Why? Why?!”?
The basic question is: would the knowledge of this missed opportunity essentially ruin the rest of your life?
Many people might say, “Yes! I’d be devastated!” Personally, since I’m always second guessing myself anyway, I can’t imagine that I’d be able to avoid dwelling on it for at least a little while. (And, of course, I am using the definition of “a little while” that means: forever.)
But Michael Kosko had a much different reaction. When the media swarmed around him, instantly labeling him as the “colossally unlucky guy,” he insisted he is “not upset” and that he is “very happy for the seven who won.”
Kosko then went on to explain that he already considers himself to be extremely fortunate, since he grew up in a poor family in upstate New York and now has a good job he really likes. “I have a job with the state doing work I love,” he told reporters. “I’m not going to sit around and ask myself that question for the next 20 years. I’m moving on. It’s all good.”
What a great attitude. Apparently this fellow really gets it. Money is not the key to happiness. Although I suspect Kosko may not be quite as cheery when he realizes the job he loves now will require him to do the work of eight people, since his seven lucky co-workers are either going to quit or call in sick every day (or maybe “call in rich”).
Kosko is onto something. Statistics show that multi-million-dollar lottery winners often end up ruining their lives with excessive drinking, drugs, and then paranoia. Quite a few of these “lucky” folks end up destitute or prematurely dead.
I hope Kosko’s attitude is genuine, and he’s not just putting on a happy face for the reporters. If so, if we ever hear a news report about a distraught state worker in Albany jumping off a bridge into the Hudson River, it’s more likely to be one of the seven winners rather than the “colossally unlucky guy.”
It just may turn out Michael Kosko is the luckiest guy in that entire office. Like he said, “It’s all good.”
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