6 dollars, 6 dreams
Five coworkers and I decided to start buying lottery tickets once a week. We each put a dollar in a coffee can every Thursday and take turns picking up tickets. Everybody gets a random-draw ticket on Friday morning, and we joke about how—if one of us were to win Saturday night’s drawing—we wouldn’t be in to work on Monday. Or ever again, for that matter.
I picked up the tickets last Thursday, but then had a family emergency and missed work on Friday, so nobody got a ticket before the big drawing. Sunday morning, I looked at the numbers that were drawn. One of the six tickets had all of the numbers!
It’s a lot of money. But, split six ways, it’s not nearly so much. Still, to my way of thinking, a really nice windfall out of nowhere.
I came in and explained what had happened. Since there’s no way to tell who would’ve had the winning ticket, I said the only fair thing to do is split the winnings six ways. Now, one of the guys is really pissed off. He’s like, “What was this big family emergency that you couldn’t come in to work and deliver the tickets.” The others are cooler, but I heard two of them talking, saying what they would have done with the money if it didn’t have to be split.
Now, nobody has enough money to quit work. And I feel really uncomfortable. How can I smooth this out?
Aberrant in Allentown says: Well, first of all, you guys are doing it wrong. Usually, the point of buying tickets in a pool is to share the winnings, because everybody has better odds of winning at least something that way. Whatever…lotto players typically aren’t good at math in the first place I suppose.
But back to the point. Let’s say it was like every other week and you didn’t win. Life would’ve gone on and you’d all throw another buck in and try again. Instead you won—but because of a situation beyond your control, people didn’t get to claim a randomly drawn ticket prior to the numbers being announced.
So now some are upset because you were honest, came to the obvious best possible compromise, and are offering to give them each an unexpected pile of cash. Where the hell do you work anyway? Sorry, as a rational person, I don’t really understand what there is to “smooth over” here. If giving away cash gets people upset in your neck of the woods, you might as well give up on the situation now.
Offer to give the really pissed-off guy his buck back. In fact, as a show of good faith, give him two bucks back for the inconvenience. Then he can buy an extra ticket next week, on you, to recoup his lost opportunity. And keep his share. Sounds like he’s just shrewd enough to take that deal. As for you, if you’re that sensitive that doing the right thing has made you “really uncomfortable”—maybe you should use your winnings to quit your job anyway. Maybe it’s not enough to retire on but sounds like it should pay the bills for a while. Take some time to find a new workplace that isn’t staffed with idiots.
The Omniscient One says: The system you and your coworkers have is a little whacky. Nevertheless, if you have the tickets, why can’t you still use your random draw? Throw them in the coffee can and everyone picks a ticket. This time they all know there’s a winner in there. Somebody will get the winning ticket. But it seems more normal that you’d all buy a bunch of tickets and if one hits you share the prize. That’s how a lottery pool works.
Smart Money says: Your coworkers are assholes. That’s okay, most are. Next time one of them gives you shit, let them know you could have kept all the money. Jerks.
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