Small thrills from a gas station lottery scratcher

Abraham Villarreal
3 min readFeb 6, 2022

Occasionally I like to buy a lottery scratcher from the gas station down the street. I know I’m probably not going to hit it big, but there’s always the chance, and you can’t win if you don’t play.

Buying a scratcher is one of those small, temporary pleasures you get for only a couple of bucks. All you need is motivation and a penny that you find in the cup holder in between the two front seats.

You never really go into the gas station to purchase the scratcher, but after getting your cup of joe and a bag of mixed nuts for the road, a scratcher seems like the next thing. The gas station gods know you become weak when you see one, so they make sure the big clear box with the rolls of colorful scratchers sits right next to the cashier box.

There are holiday-themed scratchers and the kind where you win by revealing a set of coconuts or pineapples all in a row. Almost all the scratchers have a “bonus” play because they know you deserve a second chance after scratching your way to a loss and making a mess of sparkly dust all over your pants.

Scratchers remind me of gas stations and gas stations always remind me of that junk drawer you have at home with a little of everything. That drawer is never organized but if you search long enough you’ll find what you need.

I’d like to get inside the head of a gas station owner. Not the corporate CEO sitting in a luxury apartment at the top of a skyscraper collecting your lottery losses, but the owner of those quirky little gas stations that look more like your home junk drawer.

The guys that have been running the same station for years. They haven’t done much dusting, but they have done much collecting. From canned beans to key holders, toilet paper to pain relievers, you could live at the gas station and have one of everything you need at some point or the other.

Behind the counter and on the walls where you can’t find an empty space are signs with sayings like “enter a friend, leave a stranger” and “complaint department, please take a number” with a picture of a finger pointing to a grenade.

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Abraham Villarreal

People are interesting. I write about them and what makes them interesting.