Saturday, June 8, 2013

Talk Is Cheap But Politeness Is Expensive As Hell

It's money that matters
Now you know that it's true
It's money that matters
Whatever you do.

- Randy Newman

You might have missed it but earlier this week Florida Lottery officials disclosed the identity of the person who held the lone winning ticket in the May 18, 2013 Powerball drawing - a drawing in which the jackpot was $590,000,000.  For the aught-challenged among us, that array of zeroes to the left of the decimal point represents $590 Million.  When you have $590 Million you have come a long way baby from George Bailey's Mama Dollar and Papa Dollar.   A hell of a long way. 

The first announcement I heard on the radio described the winner but did not mention her name.  The description I heard was "84 year-old widow who purchased the winning ticket in a Publix supermarket."  The thought crossed my mind that the description bore a striking (albeit not exact) resemblance to the one and only Joanie K.  She is getting ready to celebrate her twenty-first birthday for the fourth time.  She is a widow.  And most important of all to my supposition:  Publix's identification as the place where the ticket was purchased.  Publix has been Mom's new religion since she moved to the Land of the Early Bird Special more than a decade and a half ago. 

My excitement level increased when I called Mom the other afternoon and she did not answer the call.  I thought, "If I was the winner of the largest undivided lottery jackpot in United States history, would I answer the phone when my asshat of a youngest child telephoned me?"  I think we all know the answer to that question.  I later discovered that the description matched Gloria MacKenzie of Zephyrhills, Florida much better than it even matched Mom.    Turns out Mom did not fail to answer the phone when I called because she was out celebrating her Powerball success.  She was simply screening her calls.  Go figure.  Note to self:  I need to start using Margaret's cell phone to call her.  Caller ID cannot stop me!

The nicest part of Ms. MacKenzie's Powerball story was her disclosure of the fact that but for the kindness of a stranger at the Publix where she purchased her ticket she would not have been the big winner.  Apparently Ms. MacKenzie inadvertently cut in front of a woman who was waiting in line (along with her ten-year-old daughter) to buy a ticket.  When the little girl noticed Ms. MacKenzie's move in front of her mother she did what ten-year-old children do:  she announced the presence of the cutter to her mother.  Her mother, identified as Mindy Crandell, did what parents of ten-year-old children do when attempting to teach a life lesson to the aforementioned ten-year-old.  She allowed Ms. MacKenzie to buy her ticket before she bought hers.  In the words of Maxwell Smart, Mindy Crandell missed purchasing a ticket worth $590 Million "by that much".

In the immediate aftermath of her thrust into the spotlight, Ms. Crandell has been incredibly gracious.  When asked if she was upset to learn that the winner of the jackpot was the elderly woman who had jumped her place in line, she responded that she was not.   Her ten-year-old daughter - the little girl with the acuity to detect a stealthy, geriatric line-jumper - has been equally gracious.  She told reporters, "I hope she's blessed with it.  Polite is better than being rich."

I know not whether I shall be alive eight or nine years from now, when the precocious lass who offered up that observation is preparing to apply to college - and filling out FAFSA forms and completing applications for student loans.  I have written her name down and filed it away for safe keeping just in case I am.  If I am still here - and she is still here - I hope to check back with her and see whether at age eighteen she feels as she feels now at age ten. 

You will understand I hope my reluctance to hold my breath until then....


No comments: