I was having a terrible day.
It all started with an advertising circular that came in the mail from a car dealership. “Pull three tabs to see if you’re a winner!” it said. Michael pulled three tabs– and to my great surprise, he found that we were a winner. We’d either won a repo car, twenty-five thousand dollars, “up to $1500,” a big screen television, a $500 Wal Mart gift card, or a cooler.
I would have liked any one of those prizes. With twenty-five thousand dollars, you can buy a whole house in northern West Virginia, and we wouldn’t have to wait for my mother-in-law to move and take her with us. With a car I wouldn’t feel so trapped even though I’m still in Steubenville. With a $500 gift card, we could stock the freezer with meat and still have enough to buy Rose’s Christmas presents. A big screen television I would sell and spend the money the way I would the gift card. A cooler I could give to the Friendship Room; they leave sandwiches in a cooler on the porch when they’re not open, and I could give them a second cooler for bottled water. I didn’t know what “Up to $1500” meant, but I imagined they had a lot of novelty checks for twenty and fifty dollars lying around, and this week we needed an extra fifty. We’re beyond blessed to be much better off than our poorest days now, but we’re still getting by by the skin of our teeth. An expected check was a bit later than usual. We’d had to put off buying the next shipment of the weird esoteric vitamins that keep my chronic fatigue at bay. We’d just spent the last few dollars in the checking account, and the cupboard was getting bare.
I called the 800 number on the advertising circular. It wasn’t a mistake. I’d won one of the prizes listed on the circular, but they couldn’t tell me which one over the phone. I had to show up in person to find out the surprise.
I arranged for a friend to give me a ride to the dealership, trying not to think about twenty-five thousand dollars or a $500 Wal Mart gift card. Whatever “Up to $1500” meant, that would be fine. I’d take it to the bank, cash it and bring home chicken leg quarters for dinner. The Lord would provide even if we’d only won the cooler.
When we got to the dealership, I found that I had, technically speaking, won “up to $1500.” Specifically, I’d won a lottery ticket.
It was not a winning lottery ticket.
I went home to bed.
There was no coffee in the house, only eggs and a can of mackerel for supper, and not even a cooler to show for my trouble. I griped to my facebook friends, some of whom sent me tips in the blog tip jar so I could buy coffee and chicken leg quarters. I may not be a lottery winner, but I have the best of long-distance friends all over the world.
Michael checked the mail, where there was good news and bad news. The check had finally come, though it would barely be enough to buy my vitamins and pay for the internet after we finished grocery shopping. A letter from Job and Family Services had also come in. It turned out that the social worker I’d talked to the last time I was there had the wrong information and asked for the wrong documentation. I’ll have to go downtown for the fifth time in a month with more, and may even have to start the re-application process all over again or lose our EBT and Medicaid, which we can’t live without.
I got out of bed; I put on my bright red asymmetrical-hemmed cowl top, which I’ve been told is very fashionable, and which I bought online because I needed a warm jacket and the cowl was discounted to cheaper than a Dollar General hoodie. I put on some bright red lipstick to cheer myself up.
Michael, Rose and I went out just in time to see the bus drive right past us. We started walking to the next bus stop, where of course Rose got a chill and pitched an enormous flailing tantrum.
By the time we got to the bank, I was about ready to have a tantrum myself.
Then we went to Kroger to buy our groceries.
I found the Kroger staff were all dressed up in costumes hosting a Halloween party for the patrons’ children, so I brought the sobbing Rosie to join them. She was the only child there not in costume, but she perked up when she saw they had coloring sheets and gluten-free choices in the candy bucket. She went bowling with a big rubber ball rolled into a pile of Halloween-themed drinking cups. She painted a free pumpkin to bring home.
I was grateful for the party, but I couldn’t understand why the Kroger staff kept staring at me– not until the man behind me spoke.
“Are you the Red Woman?” he asked, naming a character from Game of Thrones.
I looked up.
The Kroger employee behind me was dressed in a black wig, with a plastic sword, a jerkin, and a black fluffy cloak. He was cosplaying as Jon Snow, one of my favorite characters from Game of Thrones. He saw my cowl top, red hair and lipstick and assumed I was cosplaying as a Game of Thrones character for the Halloween party as well.
I have wanted to look like Melisandre, the Red Woman from Game of Thrones, for years. I would rather look like Melisandre than win a big screen TV or a cooler in a prize giveaway, and here I was mistaken for her just for wearing my eccentric clothes to the store.
Suddenly, it didn’t seem like a terrible day at all.
(image via Pixabay)