Millions of complications

Last updated 05:00 27/11/2012

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We do have some sympathy for anyone hereabouts who was legitimately off work sick yesterday.

Instead of needing a doctor's note to answer certain impertinent workplace questions, they're liable to need a letter from their banker.

Something to attest that, no, their finances are still entirely unprepossessing.

Someone out there has just won $20.5 million with an Invercargill Lotto ticket. Which is especially nice because, whoever they are, we've always liked them and have been meaning to invite them around.

The winner is lying low, which cannot be that easy to do when your fortunes have suddenly gone stratospheric. Even if you find a way to deflect any questions about your financial wellbeing without lying badly (in either sense of the phrase), there must also be the challenge of not giving the game away by wafting around with a big goofy grin, or perhaps something closer to a stunned-mullet look.

As for keeping up appearances by showing up at work, what about your on-the-job performance? Perhaps it's in everyone's best interests if you do stay away. You're not meant to operate heavy machinery after concussion, a big old dental procedure, or even Botox. So what about the waves of disorientation that might come from a reminder that you'd just won 20 mi-mi-mi-mi-million dollars? How would you feel if, on the brink of your operation, you saw your anaesthetist stroking his Lotto ticket, Gollum style. Reassured?

It really is an open question whether the winner's life has just become simpler or more complicated.

We know what Henry David Thoreau would wish on them. Simplify, he said. In fact, he said, "Simplify, simplify, simplify". As if one simplify somehow wasn't enough.

As Thoreau inadvertently demonstrated, it's easier said than done.

His point was that our life is frittered away in detail. Let your affairs be as two or three, he said, not a hundred or a thousand. Instead of a million, count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumbnail.

Keeping $20 million accounts on a thumbnail would be quite an achievement.

We cannot pretend to know what the winner will do with all that money. Quite possibly we don't know what we would do ourselves. Some minor conflicts have already arisen around the province as households have been asking themselves that question. Husbands and wives simultaneously and emphatically answering differently. Awkward. It seems that long-agreed plans for how a family might spend $1 million seem rather inadequate when the figure is sufficiently upscaled.

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The advice from almost all quarters (apart from those who have splendid investment opportunities to put forward) is to repay your debts, allow yourself perhaps a small splurge to get the sillies out of your system, but then settle back down and don't do anything rash.

This, to be sure, is a time for patience. It may help to attain that state if you figure out that tucked away at say 4 per cent it would be bringing in $18,500 a week until such time as you figured out what you really, really want.

Simplicity is good. Mind you, some complications are potentially worse than others.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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