I've never been a lucky person -- not the type who wins raffles or finds four-leaf clovers -- and my unluckiness seems to rub off on those around me.
For instance, while standing in line to pay for my gasoline behind a bunch of people buying lottery tickets, I've never heard any of them shout: "Whoopee! I knew spending the baby's formula money on these tickets was the right thing to do, because I just won a hundred dollars!"
Nor was my wife any luckier at a Chinese restaurant recently when a fortune cookie coughed up a message that made her smile.
"I need to go buy a lottery ticket," she said, "because good luck is headed my way."
I pulled the slip of paper from her lucky fingers and read it.
"What it says is, 'Luck is headed your way,' " I said. "That could be good luck -- or bad luck."
Her face fell. We never play the lottery anyway, and here was one more reason we would never get a shot at a million dollars.
"I didn't think they were allowed to put neutral news in these cookies," she muttered.
Despite everything, I remain optimistic. I can't tell you how good it feels to receive daily e-mails from African princes and the widows of businessmen who have way more money than they can legally bring into the United States and want to give me a chunk of it if I'll just tell them my bank account number. In their time of need, they thought of me.
Other times, I get official notification that I have won various European lotteries. As a rule, I don't buy tickets in those lotteries, either, because, well, Europe is not on my drive home from work.
Still, it's nice to know that the continent responsible for Napoleon, Mussolini and ABBA is thinking of me.
I haven't tried to claim these riches because, unlike those folks who hand over their life savings to a stranger who promises even more money, I don't want something for nothing.
That's why I was pleasantly surprised to get an e-mail from the "Income Tax Department." A tax refund is simply my money handed back to me from my good friend, the government.
I know, I know. A lot of you resent paying taxes, even though they fund potholes and other public amenities. By paying taxes, though, we're pooling our money for the common good. In effect, we all own those potholes. (There's a word for such a great system of government, but it escapes me at the moment.)
The recent e-mail, addressed to me by name ("Dear Applicant"), informed me: "After the last annual calculation of your fiscal activity we have determined you are eligible to receive a tax refund of 820.50 rupees."
Imagine my delight. That sounds like a lot of money, although I have no idea how much a rupee goes for and didn't even know that our government counts it as legal tender.
The best part is, I haven't even filed my taxes yet. I am getting my refund in advance of filing. Those rupees already are burning a hole in my pocket. My luck has changed at last.
MOORE WORDS: Welcome to March. The third month of the year was the first month on the Roman calendar, and was named for Mars, the god of war.
Mars also gave us "Martians," as in the little green people, and "martial" as in arts, but not, I am told, "marital." (Your bliss may vary.)
The ides of March won't be here for two weeks, but the Romans had a word for today, the first of the month: kalends . It gave us "calendar."
Keep your eyes open this month so you won't miss daylight-saving time, spring, Palm Sunday, Passover and St. Patrick's Day (when the Irish bring their own brand of luck).