Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Spanish Lottery and Blind People

Spaniards love the lottery.  There are Loterías y Apuestas del Estado stands all over, like the one pictured below.

Loterías y Apuestas del Estado

That picture looks a bit abnormal sans people, though.  Come on Google Images, help me out.

Lottery booth with people
Ah, that's better.

One time Gregorio dragged me in there and made me buy a ticket.  I think we won something like six euro in the end, though I haven't seen a cent yet. (I'm pretty sure it went to more lottery tickets...)

There are also ONCE booths on nearly every other block, which also sell lottery tickets.

And then there's the Spanish Christmas Lottery.  An estimated 75% of Spaniards buy a ticket for the Christmas Lottery.  These tickets cost 200 euros a piece, so many people will either pool together to get one ticket or buy a décimo, which is 1/10th of a full ticket (That's 20 euros if you were still calculating...)  The top prize this year was 4,000,000 euros!  But I'm getting sidetracked.  Read the wiki article if you want to learn more about the Spanish Christmas Lottery (but not on January 18 because wikipedia will be down, in protest of SOPA.)

Lines for lottery tickets grow as the Christmas season nears

So what's the point?  The point is that buying lottery tickets is very common here.  I'm used to seeing the stands all over; they blend in with the streets and I hardly take notice.

Now jump to last Sunday.  I'm talking with Gregorio, and he's telling me once again that I should get laser eye surgery like he did last year.  "When are you going to fix your eyes?" he's asking me.  I tell him I'm not going to have laser eye surgery because, besides the cost, if they mess up I could go blind.

Saying this jogs another thought to mind that I share with Gregorio, "By the way, I've noticed lately that there are lots of blind people in Madrid."  I see at least one blind person every day, either in the metro or out walking around.  In Madison, that simply wasn't the case.

I thought I simply have a foreigner's perspective, but Gregorio agrees with me.  "Well yeah, that's because blind people live really well in Madrid."

I ask him to explain what he means by that.

"Well you know, they all are given jobs in the ONCE stands --"

I interrupt him, "Wait, wait, wait.  ONCE.  Like, as in the lottery stands ONCE?  Those are all blind people working in the booths?!"

"Yes," he assures me, "ONCE.  O.N.C.E.  It stands for Organización Nacional de Ciegos Españoles [National Organization of Spanish blind people].  They can work in the stands, and the money made from the lottery tickets goes towards providing services for the blind and seriously visually impaired."

Say whaaa.  Well I'll be darned.  I had never realized.

Then on Monday as I was walking to my library, I was reminded of my recently gained knowledge when I passed the ONCE stand on the way.  You'll never guess what I saw:

ONCE lottery ticket booth

In the ONCE logo, there's a clear picture of a blind person using a white cane to walk.  I had somehow never noticed this before!

ONCE logo

Don't worry pops, I'm clearly learning new things every day.  And to top it all off, I haven't acquired the Spanish hunger for lottery tickets, nor has Gregorio convinced me to get laser eye surgery!

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, interesting stuff. I'm with you - no eye surgery and no lotto for this guy.