The unexpected joys of Friday afternoon
Bo Brock, DVM, owns Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas. His latest book is Crowded in the Middle of Nowhere: Tales of Humor and Healing From Rural America.
An afternoon of errands turns into a full-on gamble—with wins all around.
A few years back, I started taking Friday afternoons off and I love it.
One Friday afternoon, I was in town running errands and stopped at a local convenience store to fill up on gas and grab a bottle of water.
In front of me in the checkout line stood 3 men who I figured, based on their short-brimmed caps and the rig I saw in the parking lot, were welders. It was just shy of 4 pm, which meant these fellas were getting a head-start on the weekend. As I listened to them cut up about the week and ramble on about weekend plans, I could tell they were a fun bunch.
$76 in scratch-offs, please
“I want $76 worth of scratch-off tickets!” the first welder requested when he reached the front of the line, telling the checker exactly which ones he wanted and asking her to give each ticket a kiss for good luck. The second welder also asked for $76 in scratch-offs and for the checker to rub his $100 bill before she put it in the register. When the third welder came up to request his $76 worth of tickets, the checker had already dropped them on the floor and was stepping on them, a clear sign that she knew both this group and their rituals well.
It was my turn now at checkout. I had a $10 bill. The total for my items came to $3 and change. The checker asked me if I wanted some lottery tickets, and I said yes. I had never purchased scratch-off tickets in my life, but those guys made it look like a blast. I could see them through the window, standing around their welding truck, scratching off their tickets and having a ball.
I walked out the front door with 4 lottery tickets and asked the welders how their luck was going. They had already scratched off 4 or 5 tickets, comparing who had won the most so far.
“You want in on this?” welder 1 asked me. “Every Friday we come here and buy $76 worth of lottery tickets, and whoever wins the most has to buy beer for the weekend for all of us.”
“I only have 4 tickets and I really don’t even know what I am supposed to do with them.” I answered.
Welder 2 said, “We’ll all scratch 4 tickets, and whoever wins the most will buy the beer. What do ya say?”
We all gave approving nods, they each choose 4 tickets, and we started scratching 1 at a time. I am not a beer drinker at all, but this was turning out to be fun.
I went last on the first round. Welder 3 won $1, and when I began scratching the card with a dime, they started making fun of me. They said I scratched like a rookie and told me to get my pocketknife out and do it like a veteran. So, I got out my knife and went to work. My first card was a dud, which they got a kick out of.
In the second round, I went first, using my newfound swagger as a pocketknife scratcher to win $13. None of their cards were winners this round, which meant I took a whopping $12 lead.
In the third round all the welders received duds, and I won an additional $5 dollars, giving me a $17 lead. I began to wonder how much beer these guys were going to want if I won.
The first 2 scratchers in the fourth round got nothing, and then it was my turn. The welders made dramatic noises as my first few scratches were leading to a chance at a big hit. When I scratched off last square, they all jumped around, high-fiving each other and acting like they had just won the Super Bowl.
“He won $210 dollars! We’ll have beer for the entire week,” welder 3 shouted. “Yee-haw!”
Caught up in the excitement, I joined in on the jumping and high-fiving. We celebrated for a good 5 minutes before someone said, ”Let’s go cash it in and buy the best beer in the store!”
I gave them the ticket and told them that I wasn’t a beer drinker but that they could spend $70 dollars apiece on all the good beer they wanted. They were thrilled, thanked me for the fun, and then hurried off.
As I walked back to my truck, I saw the logo on the side of the welding rig—76 welding. Now it all made sense.
What comes around
A few weeks later, I entered the horse barn in search of a new client with a lame horse. There stood a chubby fella who asked if I recognized him. I thought maybe I had seen him before, but I couldn’t remember where.
“I am one of the guys you bought $210 worth of Michelob for a few weeks back!” he exclaimed.
I started laughing out loud. “Yes…yes you are. But how did you know you were bringing your horse to the scratch-off guy?” I asked. “We never even exchanged names.”
“We all knew who you were. I usually take my horse to a doc over in Odessa, but after watching you have a great time competing with 3 total strangers for beer that you don’t even drink, I decided I want you to work on my horses from now on!”
You never know how any given moment in life will go, or the friendships that come from it. I ended up gaining all 3 of those welders as clients and friends.