Sucks to be Marjorie

True story[1]: Marjorie worked for Company X for nearly 12 years. For all but the first few months of that time, she was part of the weekly, office lottery pool involving approximately 25 other staff.

Each week everyone would contribute $2. The group had never won anything beyond a few dollars which they agreed would be put back in the pot to buy extra tickets the following week.

One day Marjorie was offered a better job with Company Y and she decided to take it. Friday was her last day and there was a big farewell party for her complete with lots of hugging and tears. She pitched in her $2 for the lottery pool one last time for the following week’s draw. They didn’t win.

The week after that, however, Company X’s lottery pool group hit the jackpot and won enough money that everyone got close to a million dollars.

Marjorie was devastated. If only she’d contributed just one more week! She knew she had no legal right to any of the winnings, but hoped her friends and former co-workers would kick a little of the bounty her way just for having been a member for so long. It was especially galling that the person who had taken over her old job was among the winners and had only been with Company X for a few weeks. The group said no way was Marjorie entitled to any of the money. Bitterness ensued[2].

  • A. Do you agree with the group’s decision?
  • B. If not, what if, instead of a week later, they’d won a month later? Or three months later?
  • C. What if you’re part of a lottery group like this and you’re on vacation one week and forget to kick in your $2 and they win?
  • D. What if someone else kicks in $2 for you the week you’re away because you’ve forgotten? (without you asking them to) They win. Do you have any right to the winnings?  

 [1] NO! This is not about me.

[2] In fact, this single event seems to be defining her life to this day (5 years later). She has the idea that somehow her life was ruined that day. Sometimes she blames herself, sometimes she blames her ex-coworkers, sometimes she just blames the whole world (because it’s obviously against her). She has a great job, nice house, nice son, other friends and family who love her, everyone is healthy. She knows she should let it go, that she hasn’t actually lost anything, but she can’t help but go through life now with a big, black cloud hanging over her head.

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22 responses to “Sucks to be Marjorie

  1. I agree with the group’s decision – rules are rules.

    If you forget or choose not to kick in and they win, you’re out of luck. If a person kicked for you without your asking, you should get part, with a cut of your winnings to the person who put you in.

    Speaking of a cut – with Marjorie’s attitude, I don’t think $100 or $1000 would have made her feel any better.

    Marjorie could use professional help seeing as she can’t get over this. She may well have ended up being one of the lottery millionaires whose names appear in the paper later as bankrupt, life ruined, etc.

    An interesting side question – what if one of the pool members decided to play the same numbers on their own dollar, resulting in a split pot – half to the pool, half to the member individually. Did this member cheat in some way?

  2. It sucks but that’s the way it goes. There must be a cut off point. This has actually happened to me when I was 25. I had taken 3 weeks off from work for exams and the group won 2.8 million. Roughly $ 195 000 each. Kinda helps when you’re 25. But then again, probably would have gotten into drugs and stuff. But now, my colleague and I both cover ourselves when one is away and I religiously give him my 2$ even if we didn’t win.

  3. A. Yes, they were right.
    C. If you don’t put in the money, you don’t have any interest in the winnings.
    D. If someone kicks in the money for you, it’s like they’ve given you a gift, even if you don’t know it. Yes, you have a right to the winnings.

    I think Marjorie is right to be disappointed. However, I agree with Becky. If she can’t get over it, she needs professional help.

  4. I say she’s not entitled to any winnings, but the group could have handled it with a little more generosity and kindness. I’d like to think if I were a member of the winning group, I’d have argued for giving Marjorie a slice of the pie (perhaps not an equal slice, but a slice).

    Since they didn’t, she feels betrayed. Not only did she not win any money, but she lost 25 friends.

    Still, five years is way too long to be obsessing over anything. Like Becky says, she needs professional help.

  5. Like the majority it seems, I agree with the group’s decision. If you did not contribute you have no right to the pot. I mean, c’mon, she wasn’t even working there anymore.

    Had she kept contributing, no problem.

    As for being part of a group and someone contributes for you, while you’re on vacation, and you win, you should get your slice of the pie. If it were me however, I’d give the person who contributed for me his $2 back wrapped in a really nice bonus.

    C would be more iffy. I’d like to think the group would ask for your $2 contribution and give you your portion – but they aren’t obliged to.

    Situations like this are why I’m happy we don’t have a lottery pool at work.

    As for Marjorie, she really needs to get the hell over herself.
    Seriously.

  6. i think if it was me i would have kicked her a grand or something as a thank you for participating, but as someone said above, i dont think that would have made her at all happy.

  7. I’m with Becky. She isn’t entitled to any of the money, but the group certainly could have kicked some cash her way.

    With a pool of 25 entrants, adding an extra .5 of a person wouldn’t dilute the individual winnings that much, and it would have been a nod to a co-worker. Of course, then we get into friendship issues. Was Marjorie someone that the group appreciated enough to provide this charity to?

    (Even though I say that, Marjorie shouldn’t expect any money. Becky is right when she says rules are rules)

  8. It’s a funny situation. Funny enough, i’ve been in a similar situation on the reciving end of the winnings. A friend of mine also bought a ticket for the same lottery that I did. They didn’t talk to A. and I for over a week. The one thing that people keep telling me.. is that it could have been them. It could have been anyone.

    If Marjorie hadn’t left and someone else did. Would she have wanted to give one piece of her pie to this person?

    I agree with Zoom. The group could have done something nice for her, since she was a part of this group for a long time. Even just buying someone nice that they have always wanted would have probably been enough.

    Interesting question. 5 yrs later.. I think it’s time to move on.

  9. Becky – Boy, that’s cold, but you’re right — I don’t think she would have been happy with $1,000. Maybe a teensy, weensy bit happier than she is now…maybe. I don’t see anything wrong with playing the same numbers on your own and winning half the pot all by yourself. People are very unlikely to get duplicate tickets, but if they do and through some freakish coincidence won, then more power to them, I say.

    Lion – Ouch. Did you just shrug it off or did you kick yourself for years to come? My only thing that comes close to that is that I was friends with the people involved in inventing Trivial Pursuit long before it was a smash hit. (I even contributed some of the questions for the original game!). I could have invested $1,000 for a half share and would have been very rich within a few years. Of course I didn’t have $1,000 to blow on an iffy investment at the time and I had no idea it was going to take off like it did. I watched my friends get rich and basked in reflected glory for a while, but it never really felt to me like I’d missed out on anything. It IS fun when I see someone playing the game on TV and they read one of my questions, though.

    Mike – Yes, you and the others who think Marjorie needs professional help are bang on. If only we could convince Marjorie… The gift ticket thing is tricky. I can see how this could result in some legal wrangling down the line. Remember that story of the kid who found a winning lottery ticket in the garbage and everyone and their brother came out of the woodwork claiming a piece of that pie? The kid who was with the kid who found the ticket, the guy who threw the ticket in the garbage, a bunch of other people who had nothing to do with anything. Sheesh. I couldn’t believe that one wasn’t perfectly straight forward.

    Zoom – Yes! I think those are the 2 main issued that continue to plague Marjorie — the fact that no one went to bat for her and that she can’t consider any of those people her friends anymore. And, of course the fact that she lost out because of decsion she made. Actually, the group was advised, legally, that no one was allowed to give her anything because that would open the door to her claiming an entitlement from all or something. At least that’s what she was told at one point.

    Ellie- OF COURSE! The old frown upside down antidote! Why didn’t we think of that – ha ha. I shall pass on your wise remedy.

    Jazz – I’m sort of surprised that so many of you would just cut someone out like that. When I first heard the story, I thought Marjorie worked with a particularly hard-assed group of people, but I guess not. I see it as the same situation as in C — I don’t think it even matters so much whether or not you work there, but that you’ve kicked in your $2. If you didn’t, you’re not entitled to the winnings

    Jobthingy – No, $1,000 out of $1 million would be worse than nothing, I think. Like tipping a server 10 cents. But it’s still a nice thought that you would have tried not to leave her completely out in the cold.

    Erigami – She’d been quite friendly with a number of these people — like in each others’ homes for meals and stuff friendly, going on vacation together friendly, she may have even dated on of them for while friendly. And, ARE rules, really rules? Mostly I hope rule and even laws aren’t that cut and dried. Rules and laws still need to consider the human element, mitigating circumstances. I don’t think any of us live by rules in such a black & white manner, do we?

    As an added “what if” — what if the last lottery Marjorie contributed to had won the group $100 and they used that money, as always to buy more tickets and then one of those tickets had won???

  10. J – Money is a funny thing. When you see someone on TV who’s won a big jackpot you want to know all about them to see if they really “deserve” to win. Remember the story of that guy out west who’d been in and out of jail and had drug problems and other problems who won some obscene amount of money — tens of millions or something. He blew through the whole wad in 4 years on crap and then killed himself. And you think, what a waste; you think of how much good all that money could have done for so many people.

  11. It seems cold to go with the “rules are rules” format, but what of other co-workers who chose to not go in? Management? I’ve been in pools at work and there’s always someone who sticks their nose up at it, or people on vacation. Thus the “rules”. If someone always put in and was fanatical about it, someone would have covered. Transferred out of office or new job, new life – no pool. Of course, we never won, so it wasn’t an issue.

    And most people don’t plan on winning, it’s just a thing to do and dream.

    Apparently Marjorie didn’t plan to contribute, and had the group NOT won, wouldn’t have given it a second thought either.

    That said, I might feel like fate had shot me a poison arrow too if I were in her shoes…for a very little while, like hours.

  12. Bcky – I know you’re right. Things like this, at least, need to have the rules well in place or all sorts of crazy stuff could result in the event of a big win.

  13. Well, one could say that she wasn’t supposed to win it, because she didn’t.

    I read somewhere (and now can’t find the statistic) that a large percentage of people who win large sums of unexpected money have lost it all in a matter of just three years, and they are right back where they started. They may have some cool toys out of the deal, but it wasn’t an end-all-be-all.

    I wish I could find the quote! Oh well.

    Money doesn’t guarantee happiness. Yes, money gives us choices and those choices can make us happy, but there are no guarantees. Marjorie strikes me as the kind of person who wouldn’t be happy even if she did win oodles of money 5 years ago.

    Like you said…sucks to be Marjorie. 😉

  14. Ugh. This is interesting. I actually think her problem is doubting herself, and she is projecting it on them because they didn’t save her from her decision to leave that workplace before the big win. What ifs are the killers. She could have controlled a lot of things if she knew it was coming (not leave, think about leaving the pool and ask is she could still be a part of it), and she is kicking herself, but it’s easier to blame. Regret sucks. Gotta move on, poor thing.

  15. This is a tough one for sure. Unfortunately it is what it is and right or wrong, she’s being robbed of more than money now because of her inability (so far anyway) to let it go. And she’s stealing from herself. Sad. 😦

    While I do think technically the group is right to not HAVE to give her anything…in my heart is still feels ethically right to at least kick something over to her. (However, XUP, your questioning of where does it end…buy a new ticket and that wins and then what, etc. does make for a nifty gray area.)

    Life is short and I tend to believe things happen as they’re supposed to. But of course that’s easy for me to say as no large windfall of money has ever come CLOSE to landing on me! I hope she can find some peace in herself eventually.

  16. I agree with what Jazz said.
    After my father died, part of my inheritance was through a life insurance company. They set up some sort of account that I could write checks from. I also had other moneys in other types of accounts. When I made big purchases, I would use the life insurance account for no particular reason. Well just as this account was dwindling down, that company went public and anyone with money in their company (like my account) got free stock based on the monetary value of their account. For years off and on, I would be frustrated thinking, “Why was I using THAT account?” or “Why couldn’t this stock thing have happened when the account was so much bigger?” Now when it even occurs to me to think about it, I just laugh at myself. Timing is everything and mine was off. I figure it was meant to be, for whatever purpose. It is what it is. I can’t imagine not being able to make peace with it, though. That must be horrible. Poor Marjorie!

  17. A. Do you agree with the group’s decision? – Absolutlel!It goes on a lottery by lottery basis. You didn’t chip in, you didn’t chip in. It has nothing to do with how long you’ve been contributing. Did you contribute THIS time?
    C. What if you’re part of a lottery group like this and you’re on vacation one week and forget to kick in your $2 and they win? – I think it really needs to be the same response as A. Do you get to go away and forget to pay your bills? No, you take care of business before you leave. If the lottery is important to you, take care of that before you leave.
    D. What if someone else kicks in $2 for you the week you’re away because you’ve forgotten? (without you asking them to) They win. Do you have any right to the winnings? – yes, your $2 is covered. And you better treat your friend extra special. Not to mention giving them their $2 back.

    And this would be why I do not participate in lottery pools.

  18. CP – That’s a terrible statistic. I can’t believe the majority of people would be so short-sighted. But then you see it all the time with celebrities, too. All that money just makes them nuts or something. It IS an overwhelming thought if you consider winning like 30 million or something — one or two you could deal with, but when it gets really big???

    Deb – I think you’re exactly right – it’s the “what ifs” that are making her crazy. And I also think she’s generally not a very happy person and the lottery thing just helps her to focus her overall dissatisfaction with life.

    Lesley – Still, I’m sure everyone has had some moment in their life that they let pass by that in retrospect they think might have changed their lives for the better (or even worse). It’s all part of life really and we just have to move on.

    Geewits – Yours is a good example to my point to Lesley and not too dissimilar to Marjorie’s story. We all have some regrets somewhere along the line, but we can’t let them overshadow everything, forever.

    UP – Ya, I try to stay away from them, too. People always waggle the sheet in my face and tell me I’ll be sorry when they hit the big one and maybe I will be, but then I figure there’ll be lots of room for advancement at work once all those new millionaires quit. There’s always a silver lining!!

  19. I imagine a few people did go to bat for Marjorie, honestly, I probably would have even though technically she’s not entitled – although the cut would no doubt not been enough for her. Thing is, it’s a majority call. And when it comes to money, the majority will always go for their pocket.

    As for your what if question, if her last contribution brought in some money that was reinvested in the winning ticket, she is definitely entitled to her full share. Seems obvious to me.

  20. Technically, she’s not entitled to any cash. But if I was a part of this group and won a million bucks, I’d take the girl out for some shopping and dinner, or hired her a hot stripper, or something.