The high cost of Winning!
Powerball is one of the great tests of work-based friendship in long-term care. That's a core belief, a tenet I someday hope to have the opportunity to personally prove. But in the meantime, I'm forced to speculate.
Those 13 California nursing home nurses who came within one number of winning the whole $1.5 billion lottery are almost certainly discovering that right now. Even by losing they still won $50,000 each — more than enough to make colleagues look at them awkwardly, with a mix of resentment, disappointment and anger.
With one series of semi-lucky numbers, they've probably compromised every close workplace relationship they've taken years to build. I hope it was worth it, because this is going to cost them some friends. Especially if they follow through on their plan to inflame the situation by buying matching Louis Vuitton handbags.
The pressure to widen their circle of generosity will be intense. If they don't share their good fortune with all their co-workers — even with those who chose not to contribute to the pool in the first place — they risk being despised and ostracized, and their work lives becoming a solitary sentence of loneliness and despair.
In fairness, they're apparently planning to pay for a party at the facility. That's a nice gesture, but bound to be awkward. A lot of conversations like, “Hey, Bob. Congratulations. I'm really happy for you.”
“You're welcome, Bob. I'll try to remember these generous carrot sticks and stale maple bars whenever I see you lucky 13s traipsing around with those matching Louis Vuitton handbags you didn't earn.”
Being a perceptive man, Bob will almost certainly notice that Veronica appears to be bitter but will hope her mood improves once she's had another carrot stick.
“The only way to have a friend is to be one,” said transcendentalist and non-lottery winner Ralph Waldo Emerson. In this situation I think that means dividing all the winnings evenly and immediately with absolutely everyone at or related to the facility — coworkers, administration, residents and family members, delivery people, survey team members, litigating attorneys, neighborhood children, unleashed pets and most of all, needy long-term care magazine bloggers.
In fact, the only way to truly preserve the sanctity and beauty of their facility-based relationships would be for those nurses to save none of the money for themselves. Not one penny. This would send an important message to any who feel that dreaded mix of resentment, disappointment and anger. “Any” meaning me, of course.
But seriously — and I say this from the heart, without jealousy or rancor, to each of the Chosen 13 — enjoy your good fortune and live life to the fullest, with matching Luis Vuitton handbags if necessary. You deserve it, and the rest of us will get over our feeling of senseless exclusion in time.
Until then, we'll be filling our pockets with maple bars and carrot sticks.
Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a national Silver Medalist and regional Gold Medal winner in the 2014 Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program. He has amused, informed and sometimes befuddled long-term care readers worldwide since his debut with the former SNALF.com at the end of a previous century. He is a multimedia consultant for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.