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Lottery pursuit lifts spirits, moods

OK, we will not be naming any names, but I happen to know that a number of residents spent part of their Friday evening traveling to Kentwood, La., and likely a good portion of the remainder of the evening in suspense wondering if they might just be lucky or if their names would be in this morning’s paper.

     As enterprising journalists wondering about things that affect our readers, Amy and I struck out on a quick drive south to check gasoline prices between Mississippi and Louisiana. You know gas prices have been rising lately, and we had heard the prices were lower across the state line. We wondered if it was true.

     At Kentwood we noticed the parking lot at the Kangaroo Xpress convenience store was packed! And when I say packed, I mean packed. Packed like sardines! Packed like the grandstands for a Bogue Chitto-West Lincoln basketball game or like the Exchange Club Park on fair week. Anyway, you get the picture – lots of cars and lots of folks.

     Driving up, we noticed a strange thing about each of the cars. If the car did not have a Lincoln County tag, it had a Copiah County car tag or a Pike County tag; a few Franklin and Lawrence County tags were scattered about. No Louisiana car tags could be seen.

     OK, I have to admit it; Amy and I had been intrigued by the hype of the Mega Lottery and were driving across the state line to buy a lottery ticket! You know taking a chance to win $650,000,000 can grab anyone’s attention. It finally got ours. Of course, the odds were something like 1.7 million to one to win, but hey it was Friday night, the girls are in college, the dogs were asleep and the house was lonely, so we headed south.

     As mentioned, the parking lot was packed, but it was nothing like the inside of the Kangaroo Xpress. A line wound around and around and around the store. A clerk said it had been that way since 8 a.m. Friday.

     Amy and I stepped into the store, and for a second everything went silent. People just stopped what they were doing as we walked in, and then laughter followed as they realized we too had been caught up in the Mega Lottery buzz.

     One old friend laughed and told me to not waste my money. “I have the lucky number tonight,” he said, laughing. Another smiled and we traded stories. A few others waved and smiled.

     We took our place in the back of the line and quickly made friends with those around us. “How do you do this?” Amy asked. A fellow from Wesson just smiled and handed her a card to fill out. Asking about lucky numbers, a women from Brookhaven who had just gotten off from work suggested we use the “quick pick” where the computer picks the numbers at random. Another gentleman just laughed.

     About 45 minutes later, we got to the counter, plopped down a couple of dollars and had our one-in-1.7 million chance.

     As we all know now, the winning ticket did not come from Louisiana and thus none of our Kangaroo Xpress friends were the winners, but for a few minutes, a cross section of folks found themselves together. We all laughed and had a good time – a good change of pace from the tension of the country and the world these days. As we walked out, folks offered us good luck, and we did the same back.

     Not endorsing lotteries here, just commenting on how the strangest of things pull folks together and how just a little hope can change the attitude for so many so quickly.

     I did notice that gasoline is cheaper in Kentwood.

     Write to Bill Jacobs at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven MS 39602, or send e-mail to bjacobs@dailyleader.com.