2009-03-20 / On Second Thought

Thirty- something speaks

The Lottery is killing convenience
Mike Maddock

The lottery should be stopped immediately. Those silly card games and anything remotely associated with Powerball need to be abolished. They are ruining my life. My reasons for this admonition are simple, and they don't involve any kind of moral objections. As I see it, if someone wants to voluntarily hand money over to the government, then that's between that person, his conscious, and his wallet. My objection to the lottery stems from the fact its operation has taken the "convenience" out of the convenience store.

What happened to the good ol' days when it took 20 seconds to pick up a Coke and some pork rinds? It used to be the only thing we had to wait on at the Circle K was the clerk to come back from the bathroom or some kid to count out the 236 pennies he was using to buy a pack of Topps baseball cards and a Slurpee. Now it's all that plus a Mad Money game, one Giant Jumbo Bucks, a Magic 8 Ball, the almighty Powerball, and a pack of smokes.

By the time I'm done waiting for that purchase, my Coke is hot, and my pork rinds have morphed into tiny barbeque flavored footballs. A stop that was supposed to take less than a minute turns into a venture more time consuming than a trip to the DMV.

…And Lord forbid the Powerball rises to stratospheric levels! The lines are bad enough when the purse is below ten million, but if it rises above that threshold then it's quicker to drive to Atlanta for a Coke. One year at the beach when the Powerball was at $25 million, I literally spent 30 minutes in a so- called convenience store trying to get a loaf of bread and some milk for my family, and that was after I had already spent 15 minutes trying to make a right turn onto Highway 17. By the time I finally returned to the condominium, my wife thought I had been partying at the House of Blues all night and refused to let me back in.

There's a reason CVS and Walgreens are popping up on every street corner, and it isn't for the cheap drugs. It may be a little harder to find a pack of pork rinds amidst all those hygiene products, but there's no Megamatch 6 at the drugstore. And yes, there may still be lines, but I'd rather wait behind the little old lady paying for pictures of her grandkids than the guy betting his paycheck against 195,249,054 to one odds.

Thanks to the lottery most grocery stores have become more convenient than convenience stores. At least grocery stores have multiple lines and self- checkouts. Despite the fact I always get caught behind the lady who counts six boxes of cereal as one item in the five items or less aisle, I always get out of Piggly Wiggly quicker than the Circle K. If only they sold gas at the Pig, which leads me to thank God for pay- at- the- pump!

It's the only thing saving convenience stores from turning into something that resembles a couple of Carolina Cup port- a- johns late in the afternoon. At least those lines are understandable.

Our lives are filled with lines, but I don't think it's too much to ask for the convenience to be put back into convenience stores. Life is too short to wait for some dude and his Cash 5 ticket while my Coke gets hot.

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