Smile Politely

The Problem of Lottery Tickets at Gas Stations

Our local gas stations are a hub for our community’s addiction activity. It is there that a vast number of us feed our cravings for nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, gambling and, of course, our nation’s biggest addiction: gasoline. But is this a good idea having so many addicts in one place? I think not. It’s only a matter of time before one of us snaps.

When I go to a gas station I’m usually already pretty irritated for the obvious reason of having to pay $4.00 a gallon for gas. But sometimes I go to gas stations and don’t even buy gas — yet I find myself irritated anyway. This is because the only other reasons I stop there are to satisfy my addictions to Mountain Dew and Camel cigarettes. So when I walk into a gas station it’s either because I’m itching for more caffeine, more nicotine, need more gasoline, or some combination of all three.

I don’t, however, go into gas stations to buy lottery tickets. I currently have a nice array of addictions and I don’t need to add gambling to my collection. Plus, there are too damn many people who buy lottery tickets at the gas station already.

And that also irritates me — not because I’m against gambling, but because the lottery addicts always manage to get in line ahead of me and then they stand at the counter for twenty minutes wasting everybody’s time as they try to decide what kind of scratch-off tickets they want. Meanwhile, I’m standing there, impatiently tapping my foot while I sip my 32-ounce, 69-cent Polar Pop with five other impatient and irritated addicts behind me burning holes into the back of my head with their crazy eyes.

The gambling addicts are screwing up the whole gas station addiction system and something bad’s gonna happen one of these days. I just hope I’m not there to be a part of it.

But perhaps we could do something to prevent an ugly gas station brawl of angry addicts.

Most of us addicts know exactly what we want when we walk into the gas station, for example, a hard-pack of camel menthol cigarettes, or a six-pack of Bud Light. We’re in and we’re out in a matter of seconds. But the gambling addicts are always second-guessing themselves about what kind of ticket to buy: “Oh man, should I get the Hot Potato Tripler or the Lucky Duck Doubler?” And thus, they hold up what should be a smooth and steady flow of addiction purchases.

I think the Illinois Lottery should limit the number of different kinds of instant lottery tickets it sells. They have over forty different kinds of tickets which is bewildering to me, let alone to the brain of a gambling addict. Why not have just one instant ticket? Then there will be no stammering around and trying to guess which one is going to pay out.

We definitely need a solution to this problem. I’m not an extremist so I really don’t want to suggest that we completely do away with lottery ticket sales in gas stations. That would be stealing from our children, because all that money funds our public schools, right?

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