Is life a gamble?

IN the market district of Boston, there's a very popular diner that has provided good, stable home cooking to locals and truckers for some 50 years. It's a family establishment, and you'll see entire families—from babies to grandparents, and everyone in between—come in and order up. The regulars frequent it sometimes twice a day—ducking in for lunch, then coming back for supper. The diner has a welcoming feeling about it. Adults who were once little and now have kids of their own continue to eat there, a habit handed down from generation to generation.

In the past few years, another habit has taken hold at the diner, which is not perhaps quite as wholesome as the food being served. In the foyer there are two state lottery machines. They're kind of fascinating to look at—painted in bright colors with the different lottery tickets displayed in their various colors and designs. Kids watch their parents play the machines while they're waiting for seating. They seem really interested in what's going on. They want to play, too. They're picking up another habit.

January 13, 2003

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