Seven minutes. I was seven minutes late to buy my chance at hundreds of millions of dollars.
It was 9:07 p.m. Wednesday when I rushed into a Schererville gas station and shouted, "Powerball! Is it too late?"
The attendant shook his head.
"No more sales. It stopped at 9," he said.
"Everywhere? Or just here?" I asked, realizing how stupid the question sounded as it was coming out of my mouth.
"Not just here. Nine is the cut-off time," he said, with an implied, "Duh. Crazy lady."
It was the slowest, saddest walk to my car.
I thought about everything I could have done differently to get me in the gas station before 9 p.m.
Maybe I should've skipped googling "Powerball ticket cutoff time Indiana," which didn't give me the answer anyway.
Maybe I should've spent less time trying to figure out where that huge black spider in the basement went.
Maybe I shouldn't have changed from sandals into cowboy boots so I could walk through the area where said spider was last seen.
But all those shoulda coulda woulda scenarios didn't matter Thursday morning, when I woke up and learned no one won the jackpot.
I don't know the results of last night's drawing because this section is printed before the numbers were pulled.
But I do know this: I have a lotto dream just like everyone else.
It involves buying a house, paying relatives' medical bills, donating to church, paying friends' debt and mortgages, going on vacations, giving to the needy and hiring someone smart to invest the rest.
Every time the lottery gets ridiculously high, people love to share their lotto dream plans.
Someone interviewed on local TV news said he would buy an island and form his own country.
But then I think about all those stories of lottery winners who fell into drug and alcohol addiction. Or they spend all their money on cars, boats and clothes, only to end up penniless.
They're living examples that money doesn't make people happy or make their problems go away. Yeah, it would be great to not have to worry about bills anymore.
But, having all that money—more than anyone could possibly need—brings a new set of problems.
As fun as it is to dream about vacations on yachts and having a live-in chef, at the root of it lies greed.
And if you feed that greed, instead of being thankful for the blessings you already have, that lotto ticket could turn into a one-way ticket to heap of trouble.
Vanessa Renderman is a business reporter for The Times. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.