I love used book sales at libraries and wherever, sometimes even at rummage sales. At our local library once or twice a year there is a surplus book sale for 4 days; the books are a buck or two each for the first 3 days, but on Sunday you can get a whole shopping bag of books for a whopping total of two dollars. I can usually fit about 20 books in there. It’s usually easy pickings, since most people gravitate to crap and miss the good stuff. I like to browse used book stores also, but don’t buy as much there, since I don’t consider 7 dollars to be a bargain price for a book, 2 or 3 yes, but not 7 (although I did get a book of Ellen Gilchrist stories there for a buck, and am glad I found her).
The library sale is where I got these 2 gems: “The Pearl” by John Steinbeck, and “More Classics to Read Aloud to Your Children”, a collection of poems and stories. One story in there, “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, was one that I remember reading in middle school. It’s set in early America and involves an entire small town drawing slips of paper out of a box to see who gets sacrificed to the harvest gods. I often think of things like that when people want to win the lottery, like the fact that they have a nice spouse and kids, or that their cancer was caught at stage 1, or some such good luck; I tell ’em they’ve already won the lottery. Some people, like “Tessie” (apparently they were all named “Goody” or “Tessie” in those days, and of course Tessie was the one who showed up late and was the most nervous) in “The Lottery”, win what I call “the bad lottery”, where you get stoned to death or get stage 4 cancer.
Steinbeck’s “The Pearl” is a slim little cautionary tale, apparently based on an old Mexican legend where a pearl diver finds a pearl big enough to retire on, but everything just goes to hell after that. The pearl brings evil down on his family and disrupts what was a happy little existence. Notable is the doctor, who has no redeeming qualities whatsoever; he preys upon the fears and ignorance of the people for his profit. Things haven’t changed much there I guess, though of course we have many, many heroes in the medical field today. One could think of “The Pearl” as a written version of the TV show “Lottery Changed my Life”, without the commercials, and without the recreational vehicles and the dirt bike paths in the backyard and the bronze statues that the winners never even thought of buying before they won. The pearl diver mainly wanted to use his money to buy a good education for his son, but in the end, of course…., well, you’ll just have to read it yourself–might take you 2 hours at most. Let’s just say it’s not a good ending.
Of course, I’d like to win the “good lottery”; who wouldn’t? It’d be fun to have a really nice house with an indoor pool. It’d be fun to anonymously help people who were down and out–I would do that for purely selfish reasons: because it would make me feel good to sit and imagine how relieved they were that some great financial burden had been lifted. It’d be nice to travel; I’d like to go see Victoria Falls, and giraffes not cooped up in a pen, and the harbor at Rio, and that area with the funny-shaped rocks in southern China, and the rock of Gibraltar, and Stonehenge, and of course the Pyranees; I have had an idea at times that I’m supposed to die in the Pyranees. I’m not sure if I dreamed that, or just saw something about them on TV and assumed that would happen for some reason. (Even if I could afford to go there tomorrow, I think I’ll hold off for a while on that particular trip, you know, just in case). Of course I’d like a place in the country, far away from a hog confinement or big dairy operation though, with a small horse pasture. Not big on riding horses; I just love to watch them graze and move around.
I’m not real religious, but I do think it’s kind of evil to just want to be instantly rich in that way, by winning the lottery or whatever. A person should really use hard work and talent to get rich, not exploitation or a lottery ticket. Of course, anyone walking around in their underwear in front of their webcam on their website “mewalkingaroundinmyundies dot com” is perfectly legitimate also.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go buy a Powerball ticket; I need the money for a new bookshelf.
Like the Flying Lizards version, but let’s go for the original money: