The shrill chirp of the second alarm clock was the sound that finally roused my Miami friend and former coworker at 4:15 a.m.–the time she wakes up every weekend morning to make the hour-and-a-half drive to work a double 6 a.m. breakfast-lunch shift, followed by a dinner shift. On this particular morning, she told me, she felt particularly tired, having been out late with friends the night before.
“You know how some days you just cannot get up?” she asked me as we had a drink together to celebrate my last shift at my bar. “And 4:15 in the morning–who does that? But, I have to get through school, the money is good, and it’s only a couple of doubles on the weekends.”
Some weekend nights she stays with me so she doesn’t have to do the 4:15 a.m. stint twice in a row, but I am moving south in two days, so that option is no longer. In a way, our celebratory drink is a fond farewell, but we are each doing our best to ignore that reality.
“So there I was, sitting on the edge of my bed, not able to move because I was so, so tired, and my partner asks if I’m feeling okay because I am not moving.” My friend laughs. “Really, I was that tired.”
When the third alarm set for 4:20 a.m. went off, my friend continued, she yawned and said to her partner, “Maybe I won the lottery and don’t have to go to work at all.”
“Lottery? You never play the lottery,” said her equally sleepy partner.
“Yeah, I did yesterday, on a whim when I filled the car,” she told her.
“Are you serious? Then I’m checking the numbers online,” her partner said, sounding fully awake as my friend stifled another yawn.
Minutes later, my friend’s partner returned to the bedroom, a huge grin on her face. “Hey winner!”
“Wait, you actually won?” I interrupted my friend. “You won? How much?”
“I got four out of five numbers–random pick–and missed five out of five by having the number 50 instead of 51.”
“Really?” I said, excited. “So…?”
“Ha!I won a $100 bucks or something. But I was one away from $3 million.”
She paused then. I took a sip of my drink.
“So you went to work,” I said, shaking my head.
“I went to work,” she laughed. “But you know what? The other ticket won me a free ticket.”
“Cool,” I said.
“Yep, not too bad. But for real, I almost won $3 million. What would I have done?”
“Gone back to sleep?” I asked.
“Definitely not gone to work,” she laughed.
“I would only have asked you for a $10,000 gift,” I told her.
“I’d have given you $25,000 right away,” she smiled.
“Hey, maybe your free ticket will be the big winner next week,” I said. “And we can really celebrate.”
“You never know,” she said.
“You never know,” I agreed.
We finished our drinks, hugged goodbye and promised not to lose touch. I have a feeling she’ll eventually make the trek south when school and work aren’t competing for 26 hours in her day.
And maybe she’ll win the big one soon. Maybe even next week. You never know.