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Growing up in the same house as a Finalist in the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes isn't always easy.

One good thing, though, other than being able to lick stamps to your heart's content, is a constant reminder of how unlikely it is for a person to win anything.

That's the assumption I've been working with, and it lets me get along without too much disappointment--I know, no matter what the odds, that I am going to lose any game of chance, be it lottery, raffle, or Yahtzee.

It's like when you try and go through a deck of cards, saying "ace, two, three, four, etc." and flipping cards until one matches. It's hard to get through more than three times without one of the cards matching.

And that's dealing with 1:13 odds. Most contests are much, much bigger--that is, much, much easier to lose.

Think, for example, of the comparison between your amount of debt before and after college for an idea of the scale of what I mean.

Anyway, the dining halls on campus have been running the Sedex'ho Marriot Beat the Winter Blues contest.

Needless to say, there have been a lot of little purple cards that say "Sorry, play again" littering the "fine" food establishments of NU.

I myself had never received one of these cards, but I was pretty sure that all of them said "Sorry, play again".

So imagine my surprise today (07/02/1999) when, upon receiving one and scratching off the gold circle, I uncovered the words "YOU WIN! See manager"!

Hunting down a manager was tougher than it seemed. I gave up after a long thirty-second glance across the food court and asked Grace, the cashier, what I'd won. She pulled out a list and tried to match my card with a prize, which could've been a Blockbuster gift certificate or any number of fun things.

She couldn't find it.

I had to do work and she had a lineful of customers, so I put my glee on hold and went back to moving chairs and tables.

Later, I snuck a glance at the list she had consulted. Evidently I'd won a drip-coffee at the Cone Zone or coffee shop.

Woo hoo.

Deflated by this realization, I resumed my humdrum work, whereupon I found another winning coffee card.

Worst thing is, I don't even drink coffee.

Now what are the chances of that?