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The five thousand dollar lunch

One of the traditions at my office is the birthday lunch. One day each month is declared "birthday lunch day" and those who have a birthday in that month get to choose three things: where lunch will be eaten, what kind of cake will be served after lunch back at the office, and what kind of ice cream will be served with the cake. Everyone chips in to cover the expenses (except that month's birthday boys and girls), and everyone gets to go eat lunch together and eat cake in the afternoon. It's a fun tradition and a good way to break up the daily grind.

Yesterday was birthday lunch day for April, and I got to choose since April is my birthday month. So I picked Cracker Barrel for lunch, a yellow cake with chocolate icing, and vanilla bean ice cream. I'm pretty easy to please in those areas — besides, how can you go wrong with free lunch and cake?

We all settled in at Cracker Barrel, placed our orders, and started chatting. The boss lady sat next to me and told me she bought me a present as well, and upon saying this, she reached in her purse and pulled out a scratch-off lottery ticket. Pretty cool... I haven't played any scratch-off games in a long time. She said if I won anything I had to split it with her. Sure thing, ha ha.

$5000 lottery ticket?
Looks like I won!

I scratched off four of the six spots, and two of those four showed $5000. The fifth spot was a low-ball number and it didn't match anything else on the ticket, so the only thing I had a chance of winning at this point was that $5000 prize. Yeah, right... like that was going to happen. So I scratched off the last space, expecting it would be $5 or $10 and the end of the game.

Instead, it said $5000.

I looked at the ticket a little bit, not sure what to say. I double-checked those three spots, and $5000 was indeed printed inside each of them. My vision blurred a little bit around the edges and I got dizzy as I realized I was holding a winning lottery ticket — and a big one, too.

Probably everybody handles a moment like this differently. I've made it no secret that I'm very happy with my job (now approaching the one year mark and not really a "new" job any longer), and I occasionally have to wonder when the dream is going to end and I'm going to wake up. And now, on top of it all, I'm sitting here holding a winning lottery ticket. So, I turned to my boss, thanked her, and gave her a hug.

A low buzz started around the table. "What happened? What did you win? What's going on?" I broke the good news and showed the ticket to those sitting near me, making sure to hold on to it tightly. My office mate, sitting across the table, looked at the ticket and then said, "You'll want to look at that ticket very closely on a day like today." Oh yes, April Fools Day. She wouldn't do that, would she?

Absolutely she would. On the back of the ticket, I finally read the redemption instructions: "Winning tickets of $100 or more must be sent by mail or in person to the Money Fairy, 123 NoWhere Drive, in Make-Believe Land." The table roared with laughter as I realized I'd been had. I laughed along because it was actually pretty funny, and it was one of the most well-executed pranks I've ever witnessed.

One which definitely deserves retaliation.

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