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.