I heard a woman say that once:  “I’d rather die than give up my maid.”

And I thought:  You’ve got a pretty good shot at that.

A handful of us were talking about debt, and getting out of it.

The first—the absolutely necessary—step in doing that is to stop incurring any new debt.  Unsecured debt.  (I draw a distinction between secured and unsecured debt.) You can get into trouble with the former, but it’s the latter that will really demolish your life.

Anyway, this woman—who was a jewelry designer with a co-op on the Upper East Side of New York (that’s generally big money up there), and a pretty glamorous piece of work herself—owed a couple of tens of thousands at that point, not devastating for her, but an amount that had been rising steadily.  But there were just some things she wasn’t going to cut down on.  Just wasn’t.

I saw her again about five years later.  She was haggard, fraught, had sold or pawned much of what she had once owed, was being threatened with foreclosure on her co-op. What she was doing that afternoon was running around the city buying lottery tickets at locations she had divined through some esoteric kind of feng shui or geomancy that had the best chance of producing a winning ticket.

She had to win, she told me. It was the only hope she had left.  And then she was off, hurrying to the subway on her way down to Chinatown where she was going to buy her next five dollars worth of tickets.

I don’t know what happened to her.  I never saw her again.

I don’t think it was anything good.