Tears and Laughter: You can play in Alabama, you just can’t pay in Alabama

I was standing in line in Brewton, waiting to buy an iTunes card and a box of sea salt Veggie Straws.

A retired couple ahead of me was telling the cashier how they were on their way to a KOA in Sarasota. They were asking directions to a restaurant she was not familiar with and she had asked them if they had asked Siri, which they were not familiar with.

He was sporting a yellow t-shirt with a pink flamingo standing on one leg beneath a setting sun under the word Florida. He had on khaki shorts and white knee highs. I had noticed on a bank clock driving through town that it was 43 degrees. I wondered where they were from.

His wife seemed kind, and she wore an expression that a woman only wears after traveling with a man for a very long distance.

To fill the empty space left in the conversation after the Siri comment, and as she waited for the woman to decide which card to swipe and which pin to use, the cashier piped up, “I can’t wait until I get off, I am going home to make tacos.” She danced in place as she said it, bouncing up and down a little while swinging her arms back and forth and snapping her fingers, all in rhythm.

By my turn at the register, the talk had continued to roll and she said, “I can’t wait until 6:00 o’clock. That’s what time I get off.”

It was 5:15.

I nodded in agreement and encouraged her by reminding her about the tacos and told her she didn’t have long to wait.

She stopped mid-scan. She held her head back and breathed in deeply like she could already smell them cooking. But then immediately sprang by to scanning saying, “I get off at 6:00, but then I have to drive all the way home to Evergreen, so I’ve got a while.”

I asked how far Evergreen was and she looked at me as if I should already know. I quickly explained that I wasn’t from Brewton, that I was from Camden.

She tilted her head sideways, “Twenty-four miles,” she said, and followed it with, “Why are you here, for lottery tickets?” I nodded. R and R State Line Lotto sits just across the Florida line. It is only a matter of minutes from Brewton, and exactly 100 miles from my front door.

“I used to live in Miami,” she said, “and then, I played every week. My family still lives there, they still play. They love it. But me, she stopped and looked at me with serious eyes, I only play when I dream in numbers.”

I repeated her to make sure I had heard her right. “Yes,” she said, “when I dream in numbers I buy a ticket, and on my birthday I buy scratchers.” She laughed, “It is okay to scratch them in Alabama…you just can’t buy them in Alabama.”

She handed me the iTunes card, and wished me good luck. I thanked her and told her to enjoy the tacos. As I walked away she smiled, closing her eyes and inhaling again like she just couldn’t wait.

I guess some people play the lottery, and some people have attitudes like they have already won. Either way, Alabama deserves a choice.

Amanda Walker is a columnist with The West Alabama Watchman, Al.com, The Thomasville Times, and The Wilcox Progressive Era. For more information, visit her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist.