The unexpected joys of Friday afternoon

October 6, 2020
Bo Brock, DVM

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.

dvm360, dvm360 October 2020, Volume 51, Issue 10

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.

Scratch game

“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.

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