I bought 20 Powerball tickets yesterday at a convenience store I didn’t even get the name of. That took some effort. When I bought the Megamillions tickets I just walked in and bought them with no hesitation. This time, even though I was looking for a place to by lottery tickets, I saw the sign in the store and walked half a block past it. I had to force myself to turn around and go in the store to buy the tickets.
Today I bought $20 worth of scratchers at the grocery store, this time with no hesitation. Unfortunately, when I got home I only had $19 worth of scratchers. One must have come out of the pannier while I was riding my bicycle back from the grocery store. I wonder if anyone will find that lottery ticket, and what it’s worth. It might be worth quite a bit. I’m beginning to think this is all a scam. Okay, I’m beginning to think it is more of a scam than it appears to be. Out of $59 of lottery tickets, I have won nothing, nada, zip. Having a passing familiarity with probability, I was able to calculate the chance of not winning anything on that combination of lottery tickets: 5.4%. Pretty close to statistical significance, not that it means anything. I guess that ticket I lost was the one I was going to win with.
In any case, I am going to end this exercise. Not because I’m wasting money. That was, after all, the point. I am going to end it because I am not feeling the same emotional frisson that I get when I spend a significant amount of money on myself. I’m not sure if it is because $59 isn’t enough to trigger those feelings, or if it isn’t the money. Maybe it’s just the things I’m getting that are disturbing me.
So how do I explain the hesitation at one place but not the other two? I suspect it is a familiarity problem unrelated to the lottery tickets. The place where I got the first set of tickets I’ve been walking past five times a week for seven years. I used to go in there frequently because sometimes their soda prices are lower than anything I can get in the building where I work. (These days I buy my soda on a weekly basis from a Safeway ten minutes walk from where I work. Much cheaper.) Likewise, the grocery store I got the scratchers at I’ve been going to ever since I moved to my current residence. But I’d never been in the convenience store I went in yesterday. I have a well known aversion to new situations, and this fits the pattern.