Saturday, February 15, 2014

Big Winner, or Bigger Loser?

My Dad collected coins. Not in a Coin Collector manner, with sleeves and gradings being on the 'hunt for that special 1957 "D" quarter to complete the series' style, but in more of a 'see it; keep it' style.

One of the coins he was always on the look out for were Bi-Centennial Quarters. These were the first of the specialty coins, like the State Quarters that followed, or the Jefferson/Lewis & Clark nickel. They were only issued one year- 1976- in honor of the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

At one point he found a bank in the shape of a Bi-Centennial Quarter at a yard sale and bought it just to keep his quarters in.

Ever since his death almost 11 years ago I have been getting Bi-Centennial Quarters in change on special occasions. I freely admit I don't use cash much anymore, so the occasions to get actual change back are rare. But every so often I will take the opportunity to get a few bucks from the bank to spend instead of just swiping the card.

It was 11 years ago, the day after Dad died, that I got a 1976 quarter in change for the first time in a long time. They had, at that time, been out of circulation for almost 30 years. A little over a year ago, day after my nephew was born, I was on my way to the hospital for my first visit. In my change; one of these special quarters. The day my son got married I received a Bi-Centennial in change.

They never seem to show up on regular days, just days when it seems like Dad wants to say Hi.

Yes, I know how crazy that sounds. It took me a while to recognize the pattern, and even longer to accept it. Because it does sound crazy.

I took a couple of statistics classes in college and in one class we learned to figure odds. Well, more specifically- in my case anyway- the instructor was up front, babbling about how to figure odds. None of it stuck; it involved algebra.

But anyway, what are the odds of receiving in your change, which will never amount to more than 3 quarters, a coin of a specific year? And what are the odds of that coin being one that hasn't been minted in over 35 years? And what are the odds of that coin, of that specific year, being received in change on a day of special interest to the recipient? And then have that happen on multiple occasions?

Even mathematically it sounds crazy. You would have better odds of winning the lottery.

Which brings me to last Tuesday. I stopped at the gas station to fill up and buy some lottery tickets. Since you cannot buy lottery tickets with a card- at least that's what I was told on several occasions- I stopped and got cash for the gas and the lottery tickets.

In my change I got a Bi-Centennial Quarter. February 11th isn't a special anniversary, and it was just a normal Tuesday; nothing special. So why the Quarter?

When I woke up on Wednesday morning I knew what the reason had to be.

On Tuesday I must have purchased a winning lottery ticket.

I believe I did anyway. I bought tickets for both MegaMillions and Powerball drawings. And as of today I haven't check the numbers.

One of two things has happened; either I have hit a jackpot, or an 11 year streak of special gifts has come to an end. I am either a very big winner, or I have lost something that I have considered special.

I will know in the end. I will see a bus placard that shows the new jackpot amounts; or a news report on a winning ticket sold locally for a recent drawing that remains unclaimed.

The one jackpot was over $200 million; the risk reward/ratio is pretty big. Did I win the enough to be set for life, or have I lost my last connect with Dad?

Now you know what they mean when they say something is priceless.

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