Don’t buy a lottery ticket, you might win.


This isn’t meant to be funny,

Yes, you can have too much money.

     If you win the lottery,

     You’ll just buy more pottery.

And get fat on high-quality honey.

Yesterday I received an email from a person in a computer company in response to a customer experience survey I filled out.

My experience was very negative, and I filled out the survey accordingly.

I won’t dwell on details, they were too upsetting at the time. To rehash them, or to name the company, would only let a bad experience ruin more moments than it already has.  

Suffice it to say that when I multiplied the number of hours I had spent trying to fix a problem times my hourly rate I got a number higher than the value of the computer.

I considered not calling back on the principle of not throwing good time/money after bad, but I’m earning less these days.

At this point, nothing that the company could do would change my mind.  I wouldn’t even take a free computer from them.  The last I spoke with them I said that what I really wanted was to never, ever be involved with the company again.

But I did call the number.

The fellow approaches each call with no expectations.  All in all, the conversation went very well.   Certainly if his colleagues had been of his caliber there wouldn’t have been a problem at all.

It didn’t hurt that he came from Alaska.

We talked about the more important things in life, how life is full of trade-offs. 

Economists have shown that people get happier in proportion to their money only until they’re slightly over the poverty line, then they get more unhappy with every extra dollar. 

We discussed how lottery winners end up ruining their lives.  I recalled a Wall Street Journal article about a man who won the lottery.  Even though he could manage money well (he started with a net worth of $7 million), a year after he bought the winning ticket every dollar was gone, he was divorced, and his daughter was dead.

I don’t buy lottery tickets because I’m afraid I would win.

I told him I was thoroughly enjoying my vacation because I didn’t have any overhead and I wasn’t worried about lost income while I was gone moose hunting.  We also talked about family.

I allowed how the reason that I decided to talk to him had to do with me working a more relaxed schedule.

Twenty-five years ago the average American child at age nine had spent more time with the TV than they would spend with their fathers during their entire lives.  We agreed that things have gotten much worse with video games, internet, and cable.  I told him about how I had brought up three daughters without TV (which is a different post altogether). 

In the end I asked him not to go after the specific people at the company (about six in number) who had wronged me.  Approach the problem from a systems point of view, I said, don’t go head hunting. 

At the end of the conversation, I observed that rapid corporate change results in turnover large enough that three years from now his company wouldn’t be the same place.

So that never (as in ”I’ll never buy from your company again”) will be reconsidered in three years.


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2 Responses to “Don’t buy a lottery ticket, you might win.”

  1. Mandy Says:

    Actually, I have recently read that happiness does increase up to about 60K in annual earnings. This is quite a bit above the poverty level. But, that it does not increase above this figure.

    • walkaboutdoc Says:

      Determining the optimum income level for happiness would depend a great deal on how one defines happiness, and I would be very surprised if any two economists would come up with the same number. The point is that an optimum exists and it’s not a huge figure. Certainly winning the lottery ruins peoples’ lives.

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