I remember the draft lottery well. One of the first things I’d done freshman year (1968) was to visit a draft counselor, to see what I could do to insulate myself from selection. I had no idea my natural bad luck at cards and prize drawings was all I was going to need.
When the lottery happened the next year, I was living in a house with some friends just off Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. We all knew the time they were going to be reading the lottery numbers on the radio, and were planning to listen together. Running late, as usual, I didn’t get to the house until they were at #50. Three hundred numbers later, after what seemed like an eternity, and long after all my housemates had already heard their birthdates called out and headed for the bar, I turned off the radio in disgust, assuming that I’d been in that first 50, my immediate future firmly fixed. I went straight out the door and headed around the corner to "He’s Not Here," got a seat by the second story window overlooking the street and proceeded to order beer after beer moaning to everyone I knew that I’d been one of the first 50.
When I finally got up the next day Carl was in the kitchen with the Washington Post. "Philip, when’s your birthday again?" he asked. "October 1st 1950, the day the Phillies won the pennant," I grumbled. "And what number did you say you walked out on last night?" Still in pain I replied, "three hundred and fifty." Laughing that crazy high-pitched laugh of his he said, "You of little faith! If you’d just stuck it out a little longer you’d have had a whole different reason for drinkng all those beers last night – October 1 was number 359!" Knowing that, in other lotteries, the last are NOT first, I’ve never been tempted to actually purchase a lottery ticket, since bad luck already won me the only lottery that really counted.