Lottery Man

He walks the streets in our neighbourhood,  shuffle shuffle shuffle, unkempt hair and shabby dirty clothes, eyes cast downward scanning scanning, always scanning. He’s looking for discarded ends of cigarettes while out on his binning runs – although nicotine is not the only habit Lottery Man has. I didn’t notice Lottery Man before I was homeRead More

Shopping Cart Person at Holy Trinity Cathedral, by waferboard, via flickr
Shopping Cart Person at Holy Trinity Cathedral, by waferboard, via flickr

He walks the streets in our neighbourhood,  shuffle shuffle shuffle, unkempt hair and shabby dirty clothes, eyes cast downward scanning scanning, always scanning. He’s looking for discarded ends of cigarettes while out on his binning runs – although nicotine is not the only habit Lottery Man has.

I didn’t notice Lottery Man before I was home during the day – Lottery Man is a diurnal being, and unlike a lot of binners, prefers to do his rounds by sunlight.  Lottery Man lives somewhere near me, and he bins in the garbage cans and the dumpsters in our area for bottles to fund his other habit:  scratch tickets. Some people in the neighbourhood know who Lottery Man is – they leave out tidy bags of bottles for him at the end of their walkways and I see them as Kale and I pass, plastic shrouded alms.

Evidence of Lottery Man litters my neighbourhood. Cast-off loser scratch tickets are tucked neatly into crevices of utility poles, folded and wedged in between fence pickets, and rolled up and stacked neatly on the curbs. Lottery Man appears to prefer the crossword kind of scratch ticket, and sometimes, it seems, the bingo ones, too. Lottery Man is the Boo Radley of my neighbourhood and goes unseen by most of the residents.  He’s not here to hurt me and I suspect most of the time he’s not even aware I exist, despite my continued attempts to make eye contact and say hello. Occasionally, he replies at my attempted greetings, and I take his grunts and mumbles and feel chuffed that he responded.

Most neighbourhoods have a Lottery Man. In all the places I have lived in my adult life there has been at least one. I always find myself wondering what events has brought Lottery Man to the place he is in now – what set of circumstances and events clicked together to have this man living in an isolated bubble of scratch tickets and cigarette butts, shuffle shuffle shuffling his way around a 20 block circular  route.

I don’t know if Lottery Man lives in a mansion or on the streets, a rented apartment with landlord white walls or perhaps a government-subsidized shelter for people in whatever circumstance and background Lottery Man comes from. I imagine his history, and make up parts of it to fit what seems right in my mind. I know that Lottery Man will never have a conversation with me to tell me his story. Lottery Man maddens me, not for what he does, but because I’ll never know what drives him. I will always wonder wonder wonder as he shuffles by me and grunts a hello.

Jen Arbo

Jen Arbo is the editor and co-publisher of Tenth to the Fraser. She's been writing for the site since 2007 and lives in Sapperton with her family. A project manager at heart, she also operates Hyack Interactive, a digital communications company. Find her on Twitter or Instagram.

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6 comments

  1. Nice post. And nice Boo Radley reference, too. 🙂

    Everyone has a story locked up inside of them, even the unseen in our community.

    Cheers for the post!

  2. I've too have seen this one you call "The Lottery Man".Passing many times,rain or shine.Dark or Light.To us,here on the brow of a hill he is is called Mr.Scratch. Hunched over his prey of the hour, he attacks the soft grey hide.His dirty nails smelling of countless such sordid,dirty satisfying affairs.

    So one day we're driving and my windows are down.Stopping at a stop sign,who's just standing 10 feet from me? The scowl on his face was priceless and he's holding a scratch card very unceremoniously."Did you win" I quirped. It was a undeniable "No",I knodded and drove off. Weeks pass and the occasional distant sighting too.They're just as beautifull in the distance too.That fatefull day he was standing outside the IGA and I gotta go in.Our eyes make contact and 1 second later he resignly rotates his head side to side.But his eyes said different than his battle torn facade, and he remembered our past engagement.Now most people probably would have left it at that. Classic ending and Canne worthy.During those few long milliseconds after initial eye contact I had the liberty to completely analyze the encounter from all angles. I chose to ask a question that only but a few would dare to tread.I needed to know at any cost."Hey, I gotta ask you". He tightens up and prepares for an incoming round."After all those thousands of tickets you've scratched.What's the most you have won?" He smiles and say's "100 dollars".

    _D_

  3. When we moved into the Brow neighbourhood it was late summer 2005; long warm days and clear warm nights. The first few times I saw Lottery Man during those heady days I was in summer mode. "Hi!" or "Hey" I would exclaim to him with a smile on my face, walking my dog. Nothing. This one want's his privacy I thought, so I don't talk to (and barely acknowledge) Lottery Man anymore.

    I think he buys most of his lottery tickets at the convenience store 1 block over, Arnie's Grocery. I also think he has a third addiction based on the number and frequency I find chocolate eclair/doughnut wrappers up and down 10th St.

  4. Shane is a very nice, polite man. Shane has been in my neighbourhood for many years, and has made many friends there. We count on him to do our recycling. Although Shane is very shy, he is always polite and always kind to myself and always takes time to say hi to me and my animals. Shane works extremely hard and has a job that I could not do. Once you get to know Shane, you will like him. Say "Hi Shane", and you will always get a positive response usually with a smile if his day is going well. I hope Shane wins the lottery, in my eyes I think he has definitely earned it!

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