Monday, February 4, 2013

the lottery


It was a raucous crowd in the medical records department at the best of times but louder by far after someone read from the morning paper that the Massachusetts lottery prize had reached the multi million dollar range. Nobody had won the previous night's draw so everyone who had a ticket or twelve was planning how they'd spend the money. First on everybody's list was no longer having to show up to work ever again. In the huge underground space packed with desks, work trolleys, and stack after stack of patient charts the only clear area was between my desk and those of the manager and her assistant. Early as it was the forty or so staff members were still arriving shouting questions and greetings.

Dolores, the manager, and Weena were already on their way to search the doctor's offices for missing patient charts that needed updating. Some of the docs were in the habit of keeping (and sometimes hiding) the records of people they'd been treating, so the morning ransack was an essential start to the day before the medical staff were in their offices. There was even one old pediatrician who went so far to take medical records home to hide in his garage, a situation that required Dolores and Weena to drive there every other week to get his wife to unlock his secret filing cabinets. Anyway, this wasn't one of those days and on the way out Dolores mentioned getting some work done while they were gone.


I'd been in the department for three or four months by then and my initial fears about being among that many women were mostly gone. Mostly. The first day had felt like I'd been sentenced to one of those all female prisons that were popular in the movies back then. Remember 'Reform School Girls'? In point of fact there were some aspects of the place that fitted the description fairly well. We had a girl gang - or perhaps I should just say we had a core group of very tough young women who were reputed to supply street drugs to whoever had the need and the cash. Since I wasn't a customer I can't say for sure but what was true was that you really didn't want to get on the wrong side of any of these people, the problem being it was hard to tell whether you were or not. It was certainly a fact that sometimes co-workers from our department or others would go to the car park at the end of the day only to find their cars weren't going anywhere without mechanical help.

But the subject on everyone's mind that morning was the lottery. Soon just about all were loudly chronicling what they'd do with their imaginary millions. Big houses, luxury cruises, fancy cars, unlimited clothing and jewelry budgets were enumerated in various ways as the ladies argued about the best neighborhoods for their big houses, which were the best cruise lines and destinations. 'It's not about going anywhere, it's about extravagance, stupid' was a common theme. This was especially evident when they talked about the fancy cars they'd be driving in those days when gas stations still had price wars. Cadillacs were high on many lists but the color of said luxury car only turned into another point of argument. The brouhaha kept gaining in fury as the discussion turned to clothing (designer or classic), jewelry (platinum vs. gold, diamonds vs. emeralds), furniture etc.


Dolores and Weena arrived back just then but before our manager could say anything, someone jumped up onto one of the desks, kicked off the papers and the ringing phone and yelled, 'Let me tell you what I'm gonna do with that money'.

It was Inez, the leader of the gang. Everyone was shocked into silence as she went on to say, 'I have a list of people who'd be better off dead and when I win that lottery I'm going to hire a hit man'.

Talk about a conversation stopper. Inez jumped down from the desk and walked out the door for a break with a couple of her friends. Maybe she was kidding; maybe she didn't mean any of us. Nobody was certain but a couple of people looked worried. The rest of us picked up the papers and got back to work.

Disclaimer: I never have been in the habit of buying lottery tickets. It's just looking for trouble as far as I'm concerned.

31 comments:

  1. This is wonderful! Reminds me of the hierarchy at the WAVES barracks in "A" School in Great Lakes, Illinois. I never fit in, but for some reason, I wasn't on anybody's s--t list, either.

    Love the art work and the story, both of which you do so well, Susan.

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    1. Hi Martha. I'm delighted you found a common experience in the story. Women can be as dangerous as men any day but also often cooler than we might expect. I was also lucky that way and I do have another story in mind for a future Adventure.

      Thanks so much for the compliments.

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  2. I too love your artwork and story telling, and this is great! It made me feel like an innocent babe for not having experienced women like that. Like any good tale, it leaves me wondering how much is true and how much is fiction.

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    1. Thanks, Marja-Leena. Large groups of women in forced company can be very entertaining. Do you really think I could have made this up?

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  3. Good to see another Adventure Susan. Shirl works in medical records and couls swapsiilar accounts of what doctors do with notes!

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    1. I'm so glad you broke your blog rest to come visit, Jams. Yes, doctors can be very weird about medical records as I'm sure Shirl has mentioned.

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  4. much more entertaining workplace than a bank! haha, loved this...one of your best. and saw in the side bar something about swedish clogs and dr. scholls no longer cutting it so, not to be outdone by the fashion plate among us, i am off to read that. happy monday to you...hope it's better than mine is. :P

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    1. Hah! I worked for two years in a bank as well - the stories I could tell :-) Maybe I will one of these days.

      You mean you never read 'hot fashion story'? Come to think of it, I haven'tdone so for a long time either.

      Hope tomorrow will be a better one for you.

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    2. well i am hopelessly out of fashion given my memory of your fashion post, well HOT fashion post. :) oh well, that's ok since i never get dressed these day-daze-anyway. xoxoxo

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  5. Inez is one scary chick (reminds me a bit of my step mum). Please, please, please tell me she didn't win the lottery. No, the 'lady' under the hood is definitely not fixing that car - at least not in the usual sense. I've never really thought about where my medical records go..... now I'm afraid an Inez will be in charge of them. wow! what a great story! And the pictures! I keep going back to look at them for more detail......

    I knew a bunch who worked in a bank a few years back, who all pooled money and bought lottery tickets as a group. The idea was that more tickets meant more chances to win, and winnings would be split amongst participants. Pretty tame bunch though, they only talked about paying off the house, maybe a new pickup truck, a trip somewhere nice.... typically Canadian, eh?

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    1. I hope I didn't bring back bad memories with Inez. No, of course nobody in the office won that lottery but hope springs eternal with ticket buyers, doesn't it? As far as the medical records are concerned they're mostly pretty boring anyway but Inez was good at her job. I'm glad you liked the story - even I'm happy with the pictures this time.

      Are you saying Canadians are boring? One time a medical science team I worked for was waiting to hear about a grant when someone suggested I could buy lottery tickets. I just smiled. The guy who suggested the idea said, 'Nah, if the number came up she'd never come back'.

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    2. What? Canadians boring?! How can anyone who travels by dogsled home to their resident igloos be boring? But what we're generally not is extravagant.... If you can overlook the monster pickup trucks

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    3. Yeah, monster pickups are a plague on the land and nowadays you have to pick up after the dogsled team.

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    4. hahahahahahahah....sigh, thanks for the laughs but my area is pretty filled with pick ups too. not MONSTER ones tho, i think they're illegal here, being Cali. everything is illegal here. except taxation....

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  6. I don't buy lottery tickets either although I wonder if I should when the jackpot gets super high and ridiculous. I used to lull myself to sleep when I was a child by imaging I somehow got rich and what I would do with the money. It was inevitable that I would use the money to take care of my immediate family because there were so many problems to solve. I thought that money would be the answer to their problems and then I wouldn't have to worry about them anymore and then I could live my life (in style of course as I had extra money for me after taking care of them). :)

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    1. I remember that when I was a child, much longer ago than you were, there was a show on our kerosene run televisions called 'The Millionaire'. Every week the mysterious J. Beresford Tipton sent his assistant out to give some ordinary person one million dollars (akin to $100 million now). Sometimes things worked out well but half the time they didn't.

      I've entertained similar thoughts as yours but as we've both learned money really can't buy happiness.

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  7. This was perfect timing.

    Our office chipped in yesterday and bought lottery tickets. Of course there was the odd conversation here and there about what we'd each do with your money. It' fun to think about, but ooooh what a let-down it was this morning when the billboard boasting the $218 million winnings had shrunk to $40 million.

    I love your stories, Susan and the drawings are sublime.

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  8. It sounds like somebody won $178 million but it's never one of us, is it? What seems so sad (and inevitable in the circumstances) is that cash takes such precedence. Wouldn't it have been cool if the government had just given everybody a million dollars each rather than bailing out the banks?

    The admiration is mutual, my friend.

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  9. Ha! A delightful tale! I'm glad I finally got over here to read it! I once won $250 on a scratch ticket. Those were the salad days so I bought the girls new winter coats.

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    1. I'm glad you did too. Yes, winning small amounts on a lottery can be a treat but I'm sure you've also seen people who appear to be betting their life on them.

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  10. Work, all male or all female work environments, gambling (lotteries in particular), gangs and revenge, status over substance... So many interesting tidbits illustrated in the words AND pictures in this wonderful post. I'm glad I came looking today. Inez, in particular, looks like you were working from memories. Aren't people fascinating (and scary) in their variety?

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    1. I'm delighted you've been by to see this one. There haven't been any new Adventures posted in quite a while but it's interesting that I re-experience the entirety of events when I draw a series like this. Inez was one very intense young woman, one not easily forgotten.

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  11. Oh my goodness. What fun. I never bought a lottery ticket (like Robin Williams said, it's a tax on people who were never all that good in math) but when the stupid thing was way high and the guys at work were getting a huge pool up, and I was still refusing to part with a buck, someone came up and whispered "what if the pool wins and you're the only one left here?" I bought a ticket.

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  12. Thanks for coming by to visit. I've always thought fun is where you find it too and I've had a fair amount.

    Your story reminded me of when I spent a couple of years working for a researcher at OHSU when a major grant proposal was under review. Somebody suggested sending me out to buy tickets and someone else who noticed my smile said, 'If one of the tickets won, she's never come back'. Of course, I would have.. at least to visit.

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  13. My upbringing insists that I include charity when I win the lottery. But which ones? A Gemini's conumdrum. Glad I found you, thanks to Murr Brewster.

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    1. I'm glad you found me too and thanks are owed to the talented Murr Brewster. My favorite charity with or without a lottery win has long been Heifer International.

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  14. This is wonderful.

    Why have I been away from this place for so long?

    (I used to come as Andrew, perhaps as H. Insciens., perhaps as other personae. I am glad I looked back again).

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    1. Hello again, Don QS. You're as welcome here as you are at home. Things don't change very fast around here so there are no worries about times between.

      I'm happy you enjoyed the story.

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  15. Fascinating. I've now read posts on both of your blogs. Interesting, almost two different people writing, at least in style and content. You appear to be someone who would be interesting to know. I'll go back and read other posts as I can, being in my twilight rocking chair world.

    Oh, and if you want to know some stories from the medical field, though not transcription and medical records, let me know. I know some ICU and surgery stories that would curl your hair.
    Cheers

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    1. It's funny you mention that, SFM, but it appears my story telling voice tends to remain in the cognitive awareness of the time of the event. This particular story was about my first job in medicine during the 1980s in Providence, RI. By the time I retired a couple of years ago I'd been working in the health care field for about 30+ years - always support of one kind or another rather than surgical or clinical.

      I'd love to know more hair curling stories about your experiences. My email is milasu7@fastmail.fm.

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