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  • Dan Marich

Just When You Think I Can't Get Dumber


So, yesterday I'm feeling pretty good about myself. I helped Linda clean the house, I made some potato salad for lunch that was delicious, and I went for a brisk walk as part of my trying to stay out of the hospital again plan. All in all things were looking up.

Then I noticed that the Mega Millions Lottery was at $660 million and I asked Linda if we should play it. She said, "why not", and then suddenly I became a complete idiot. Well, technically, according to many, I have been a complete idiot for sometime, but that is neither here nor there.


We dig through the couch cushions and rifle through the junk drawer and manage to come up with $10 to invest in our new lifestyle. Won't it be fun going back and forth from our new 6000 square foot house in Rancho Mirage, and the comfortable, little, 3500 square foot one on the edge of the ocean in Maui. Private planes, a staff, putting friends on the payroll to just hang out with us, you know nothing over the top.

I get in the car and drive down the street to the local Arco/ AMPM mini mart to get our winning ticket. I figure while I'm here I might as well top off the gas tank too. The first pump I pull up to has a hand written note that says pay inside first. All the other pumps are taken so I go inside to pay.


The nice lady there is confused as to how to prepay with a credit card so I ask if all the pumps are prepay or just this one. Turns out that is the only one so since things have cleared I tell her I'll just go to another one, but while I'm here I might as well get my winning Mega ticket, which she prints out.


Out the door I go happily skipping with my winning ticket and move my car around to a vacant pump on the other side. I turn off the car, pull the gas cap release, and grab my wallet. I open the gas door completely and unscrew the cover being careful to set it in the specially designed holder for it on the inside of the gas door three times before it stays.

I don't know if you've ever used one of these yourself but it is a self serve gas dispenser. Most stations have them and I would say, conservatively, I have used these around 73 million times in my life. They're not complicated, no matter what my mother says, and the skill needed to operate them is right around the first grade level of education.


I am distracted with thoughts of how I will be helping so many people and animals when we win the grand prize that I'm putting the credit card into the machine by muscle memory and not really paying attention. The particular machine, not pictured here, is slightly different than I've used but still, not complicated.


I slide the credit card into the slot and it meets no resistance so I gently push it further in and it disappears, right into the receipt dispenser I shoved it into.


Are you kidding me? I try using two other cards to grab it and pull it out but manage to only shove it further into the slot where I can no longer see it. Did I mention it is a comfortable 112 degrees at 2:30 in the afternoon in Palm Desert? I mess around with this for about a minute and then sheepishly go back into the store and tell the two ladies behind the counter what I did.


When they stopped laughing, one of them grabbed a pair of scissors and told me to follow her outside, which I did with my tail between my legs. Apparently I'm not the first dope to do this because she seemed to have a plan as to how to retrieve the card for me.


She opens the scissors and slides them into the slot and is trying to grab the card. No luck. I see a heavy stock flyer next to the pump and take it out of the holder, fold it in half, and try to shove it up the slot in hopes of getting the card to slide down it and out.


I tell her to just get the keys and open the little door where they put new paper in for receipts. "I no have key," she replies. "Who does", I ask? "Owner has key." "Is she here?" "Not right now." "When will she be back?" "She comes every two, three months."


Now, besides sweating like lawyer in church, I'm freaking out at the thought of telling Linda what happened. She will not be amused. I suggest she calls the owner and figures out how to get this open. She goes back inside and I continue to try to get the card back with my piece of cardboard/paper flyer.


After about thirty seconds I see the other lady come outside with the same scissors and she is headed my way. She moves me aside and shoves the scissors up into the slot just like the first lady with the same results. "Why you do that?" she snarls. I can think of no logical reason to give her so I just stand there mute and stupid.


"Now people are going to be mad they no get receipts and come yell at me." Yes ma'am, I don't feel bad enough right now. Thank you for knocking me off my high horse. While I'm sorry for her future troubles I'm a bit more worried about not getting my credit card back.


With one last disapproving cluck, she returns to the store and I return to my seemingly futile attempt at credit card retrieval when suddenly, as if god herself, reached in, the card comes sliding out of the slot where I can grab it and pull it all the way out.


I am standing in a puddle of sweat, smiling like I just hit a triple to win the world series when it dawns on me that I have no chance of winning the Mega game because all my luck was used up on getting back my credit card. Total deflation and despair.


I put the card into the correct slot this time, fill up the tank, and slowly drive back home to share my experience with Linda. As I expected, when I get to the card in the receipt slot part she gives me that look like I've seen before. The one where she is thinking, I had options 45 years ago and I picked this idiot?


She is relieved to hear I did get the card back but I know she will never raise me back up onto the pedestal she has held me all these years. I guess I deserve it.


Anyway, as I predicted, we were able to match one number on the entire ticket and the pot has now rolled over to $770 million. Do we play it again or are we safer to just forget about it? We have a few days to decide and I'll see how the wind is blowing here at Casa de Marich on Tuesday morning.

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