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.