There are a lot of things about you that many of us foreigners find odd at first, but eventually become accustomed to. The one I often find myself slipping up on is that due to the fragile sewerage plumbing system, toilet paper is meant to be thrown out in a bin beside the toilet, and not directly in the bowl.
Conversely, one “custom” I took to very quickly is receipt hoarding.
You see, in Taiwan, you can win the equivalent of around AU$415,000/ US$320,000/ ¥38,000,000 just by keeping the receipts you receive after making a purchase. It is a Government initiative! HOW AMAZING IS THAT?!
The reason the Government came up with the Receipt Lottery is because, as Tealit.com explains:.. it is an effort to get merchants to keep things on the books. The theory being, with millions in winnings on the line, customers would start demanding receipts with every purchase and merchants would wind up with all their income on the books.
Now, I don’t know how it’s done in your country, but in Ozstraya if we had this problem we’d punish people by not letting them ride on their kangaroos for a year (probably a safe move given the drop bear incidents). Or, at least take away their Tim Tam buying privilege. No but seriously, in Australia if an inspector caught you not following proper trade regulations, you would be slapped with a big fine. That’s if you’re even caught, so such a system has many flaws.
I am baffled by the ingenuity of the Taiwanese Government to recognise that:
People + money = happy.
People + free money = freaking nuts
People ask for receipts= (maybe) free money
Businesses legalise to produce receipts= > accountability
People buy more to get more receipts = businesses x happy
Government revenue from taxes gained by business registration > Government output for paying lottery winners
Happy people + Happy Government + Happy businesses = HAPPY x 3 = HAPPY3 = Pharrell Williams.
(And I didn’t do economics why?)
This is the lowdown for those budding Cristal swiggers: Every registered business will give you a receipt with a printed number. Every two months the lottery numbers are announced. You look at the last 3 numbers on your receipts. If your numbers match, then congrats playaa, you have won NT$200 (AU/US$8). The more matching numbers in a row you have, the more money you get. If you perfectly match the entire set of numbers, call me!
As I’ve mentioned, I don’t have any income here, so of course I was one of those FREAKS who collects all their receipts. You should have seen when my friend so nonchalantly tossed our their receipts. Woah, woah, woah! Back it up here buddy. Since when were you ballin’ it? WHO DO U THINK U R tossing out those receipts like they be mere pieces of paper?!* DON’T YOU KNOW YOU ARE THROWING AWAY MY HOPES AND DREAMS WITH THOSE RECEIPTS?
*As of that moment my friend count became 0.
I really did collect all my receipts, and eagerly awaited for April to roll around so I could find out how much I won. Every time a friend offered me their receipts I was ecstatic.
I even organised for my friends to come around to my house so we could have a lottery party when the results were announced (sadly, I’m not even joking). Of course, most of my friends have lives (unlike me) so most weren’t collecting the receipts, and receipt reading was shunned for alcohol inducing.
So just yesterday, I finally got my act together and checked my receipts. I was really excited, as I sat alone in my room checking receipt after receipt. Cos that’s the cool thing to do after midnight on a Friday, kids.
Constant thoughts ticked through my head: These are probably my last moments of not being a bajillionaire. I will look back at this time in my autobiography, recounting how I used to live “da tough lyf”, and now I am ballin’ it on a private island which I had landscaped into the shape of a giant dumpling. Despite my wealth, I plan to stay humble, and will act as a beacon of hope — a deity even– to all those seeking their fortunes from The Great Lottery of Taiwan.
Accurate representation of what would happen if I won:
So quickly, did my elation at the very real prospect of winning turn into something that looked like this:
But, despite my unchanged financial state, I still love you, oh Great Lottery of Taiwan. I forgive you, ok baby?
We can make this up, we can get through this, together.