FLINT - People often say the first thing they'll do if they win the lottery is "quit working."
I always think that's a bit sad. Beyond the money, shouldn't we derive enough satisfaction from our jobs that we'd at least give leaving them a second thought? If not, what's it all about, Alfie? (Old song reference - sorry, they pop out of me like seeds lately.)
If you're one of those people, maybe the greatest gift the lottery can give you - assuming you don't win, which you didn't (sorry to break it to you) - is a swift kick in the pants to go find a job or a career that is more meaningful.
Me, I've been one of the lucky ones. Quitting my column-writing job most certainly wouldn't be the first thing I'd have done had the $537 million Powerball gone my way. It'd be the second. The first would be screaming "Yeeeehaw!" for 10 or 12 straight hours.
Then I'd have quit writing. Probably in mid-sentence: "The mayor is a giant bag of ... I won what? Whoa, gotta go."
Not that I don't love writing columns for you. I do. I've written thousands upon thousands of them over the past 23 years, and want to write thousands more.
There's a good reason for that - you. The very best part of this job is the feedback and interaction - positive and not so positive - I get from readers.
I've had readers who have thanked me because I made their dying mothers smile, and I've had others who have called me every foul name in the book, plus two, then taken the book and thrown it at me. Usually figuratively, although once at a book-signing literally.
Angry readers are, believe it or not, are my favorites. Why? Because they always say they'll never read me again, then a week later I'll get another hate-filled email that includes a spit-flecked to never read me again - ever! And this time they mean it!
I have relationships going back decades like that.
So why would I quit if I love it so much? That's easy. Writing an opinion column takes a certain level of crankiness, which would be difficult if not impossible to achieve if I suddenly had $537 million. What would there be to complain about - no Grey Poupon when I need it? If I had $537 million I could probably buy the Poupon company and hire a butler to follow me around with a fresh jar at all times.
A rich, satisfied opinion columnist is no columnist at all, which is why George Will rings hollow. Without stuff to complain about, what would I write - nice, happy words about nice, happy people doing nice, happy things? I'd sooner cut off my fingers. Which, by the way, I could afford to have re-attached by a team of the world's finest surgeons.
So what would I do with myself if I weren't working? Everyone plays that game, and I have to admit I've thought about it.
Honestly, I think being filthy, stinking rich would be a challenge. Not as much of a challenge as the TV reports about lottery winners who end up being destroyed by the money make it out to be.
Those people, I figure, were headed that route anyway. But still a challenge.
Think about it. After you bought the first 10 things on your "stuff" bucket list, what would you do with the rest of the money and all that time?
Me, I'd buy two lush islands someplace warm - one for me, my wife and kids, the other for any friends and family who wanted to move there. (They could visit my island but only with permission. One must maintain one's privacy.)
I'd then build fabulous mansions on each. Mine would include a Scrooge McDuck room filled with four feet of $1 bills for my morning swim. I'd hire Food Network chefs to cook for me and purchase every book and movie ever made to entertain me.
I would also buy a bunch of restored World War II weapons - tanks, planes, artillery pieces, machine guns - just because I'm a history wonk and those things would be fun to play with.
Then for a while I'd just live the life.
But $537 million is a lot of money, and even after buying all that stuff, there'd be a lot left. So what would I do with it and my time?
It's a deep question, one that I'd love to answer, but I just realized they're calling the next lottery winner soon and I don't have tickets yet.
EDITOR'S NOTE - Andy Heller, an award-winning columnist, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. Write to Andrew Heller at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.