I contribute a weekly column to the Platte County Landmark under the “Rambling Moron” name. It’s a great Northland Newspaper and well worth a subscription. The following is an copy of my article which appeared in the 11/16/12 edition – printed with permission.
$ay Fella, Can You Spare A Dime?
Platte County continues to be the epicenter of activity and unique stories this year. And this one might be the biggest yet. The sprinkling of everyday luck turned into a monsoon last week when Mark and Cindy Hill of Dearborn, Missouri won, and I think I have this figure correct, a gajillion dollars in the Powerball.
Now, like you, when I heard this, my mind went through the following stages: 1) Damn, it wasn’t me; 2) That’s great for that family; 3) Man, that’s very close to me and; 4) I wonder how I can become that couple’s best friend.
Get ready, Hills, you are now sitting at the popular table in Middle School. Your TrexMart has now turned into the TrexMart Country Club.
So, if you’re like me, here are some do’s and don’t’s when breaking the ice with the Hill’s if you are unsure how to respond to their good fortune:
- Don’t just knock on their door. You need to be more subtle. For instance, I have chosen to write a thinly veiled advertisement in a local newspaper masked as a weekly column. Yours probably won’t be as creative as mine, but there might be some money left over after they write me a big check for being clever.
- Do be prepared with a list of things you’d do with the money if, for instance, the Hill Family wrote you a check for $1,000 or $10,000 or $100,000. What would the top five things be? Laminate it and put it in your pocket. Carry it with you at all times. You never know when you might meet the Hill Family.
- Do start attending North Platte High School football games. It won’t be hard to do. I hear the seats in the stadium will be gold-plated with a massive Jumbotron.
- Do play to your stregnths. For instance, if I ran a newspaper, I might put a giant 72 point headline on the front page saying something like, LOCAL NEWSPAPER SURE COULD USE A WEBSITE UPGRADE. Again. We’re going for subtle, but not TOO subtle.
- Don’t be a jerk if it takes the Hill family more than a few weeks to identify how clever you’re being. It’s a big undertaking for the Hill’s. I mean, what would you do if you were in their shoes? If you’re like me, you’d be looking for clever, handsome newspaper columnists to grant wishes to. After putting aside a couple of bucks for your family, of course.
- Do begin plotting out your degrees of separation. How many mutual friends do you have on Facebook? When I heard last week, the discussion immediately went to “my sister’s cousin went to school with her brother’s uncle.” These are important statistics to know in case you’re ever introduced. “Oh hey Mister Hill. My Grandma Emily used to babysit your cousin’s mother’s brother in law Larry.” “Oh, you’re Larry’s kid? Here’s $20 grand.” This is how I assume it will go.
- Do be friendly. For instance, make sure that the Hill family knows that the annual Platte County Landmark Christmas Party is December 14th, for instance. Gifts are optional. And by optional, I mean highly recommended.
- Do have a solid understanding of journalistic ethics and understand that you should never use a column as an excuse to pander for money or gifts. No matter how bad the transmission is in your car.
In all sincerity, congratulations to the Hill Family. I am sure you will be wonderful stewards of an incredible fortune.