Perhaps you have read about the New Hampshire man who lost his life savings on a carnival game in 2013. For some reason he thought that he was cheated. There was certainly something wrong going on, but it wasn’t with the carnival game. Perhaps it was rigged. That is par for the course with carnival games. It is how they stay in business. But they didn’t have a gun to his head. He felt cheated by them, but he let it happen.
The man is 30 years old, and his life savings amounted to $2,600. That alone is kind of sad. I certainly understand it. I’ve been there. This is the American way. Don’t think about the future at all. Don’t save, don’t plan ahead, don’t think about the repercussions of your actions. This is why people who smoke for years get surprised that they get lung cancer. There is something very dangerous in this way of thinking. We are asleep when we think like this. But let us continue with the facts of the story.
He was trying to win an Xbox Kinect. They cost anywhere from $200 to $300 based on the capacity of the model. He was playing a game called Tubs of Fun in $5 increments. The object is to toss balls into a tub. The problem is that the balls kept popping out the further he got into the game. He kept playing and spending more money. He lost $300 to start off with. He would have been better off just buying the console, but by then he was hooked. He is quoted as saying “You just get caught up in the whole ‘I’ve got to win my money back.’”
Then it got worse. He went home. He didn’t keep working on impulse and the excitement of the game. He had time to cool off, but he didn’t. He emptied his savings account and went back to the carnival and continued to play the game. He lost all of it. He did however win a stuffed banana with dreadlocks. He contacted the police and was considering suing the carnival.
It isn’t the game that is at fault. I find it doubtful that you can sue anybody for taking what you hand them. He wasn’t robbed. He got caught up in the game. He had time to cool off and didn’t use it. Nobody forced him to play. “For once in my life I happened to become that sucker,” he said. “It was foolish for putting up my life savings.”
It is a sad story. It isn’t unfortunate, however. There wasn’t bad luck involved. There were a series of bad decisions. It is sad because he lost a lot of money for no good reason. It is sad because he didn’t know when to stop. It is sad because he still thinks it is somebody else’s fault that he threw away his money.
We have to stop letting ourselves be victims of our own lack of attention. We have to start being intentional. We have to wake up. We have to think about the repercussions of our actions as well as our lack of action.