Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Purchasing Tickets at a Premium

Now, I consider myself adept in the art of buying and selling hard-to-get tickets. I have even had my share of successes in the art of selling easy-to-get tickets. I have bought and sold Cubs and concert tickets for profit on many occasions in the past. One of my funniest memories comes from when our international study group in Buenos Aires were issued 50 tickets to a World Championship Polo match in 2003. Because not all 50 American students wanted to go and see a Polo match, the few who did were left with a handful of extra tickets.

I have to note that I actually loved watching this Polo match and found it truly a window into the Argentine culture. I suppose that it would be like taking a foreigner to a baseball game of ours. They wouldn't completely understand it, but they would enjoy atmosphere and beer. (As polo is to baseball, so is soccer to American football). At the Polo Grounds, there are two stands. One is for the rich people and the other is for American Students. The Rich people rattled their jewelry when they cheered and to enjoy the match they drank wine or champagne. Everyone on our side hooted and smashed our beers together. I think we had more fun. Regardless, the most fun we had was in selling our 35 extra tickets before the match. We were a little hesitant at first. Foremost, because we had received the tickets a gift from the Sales Director of Argentina Polo himself. While we soon pushed past that moral road block, we found that we were a little nervous scalping tickets in a foreign country using a foreign language for, a quite literally, foreign event about which we knew nothing. What we did know, however, was how to sell tickets. So, after pushing past my initial hesitation, I took the stack of tickets and made my way to the end of the patron line.

"Se Vende!" I quietly exclaimed. "Se Vende." A police officer was standing on the street. No bites. No problem, I reeled in. I considered myself a professional. I cast another line,"Se VENDE! Boletos... Muy baratos." A man came up to me. "Cuanto salen estos boletos?" How much do these tickets go for, he asked. I hesitated, SHOOT, I didn't know. The tickets didn't have prices on them, they were gifts. I looked at my friends, they didn't know either. My friend Ryan Adcock thought he had overheard someone saying $50 pesos each (which was the rough equivalent of U$15). I told the man in Castellano, "Forty Pesos for each ticket. They go for fifty at the ticket office." He pulled out four notes and paid for two. Then almost immediately, another man walked up. He was followed by yet another man, who was followed by two others. Soon, a very large and out of place crowd was gathered on our section of the street. "Shoot, guys, here take some tickets." I tried to pass a dozen tickets over the mob of people surrounding us. I began to sell Polo match tickets for forty pesos each. There was such chaos on the streets that I was forgetting who had paid and who I had already given their tickets. Among a mob of reaching arms and money I noticed that the police officer had come over. I panicked. For a brief moment I thought about stuffing my last couple of tickets into my mouth and running. I thought better of it. "Good day, sir." I nodded. He returned my greeting with a chuckle and walked away. Good grief! I sighed. In what can only be visually described as a storm of dust and disorder somewhat similar to a Warner Brothers' character scuffle, I sold my last ticket. Ryan and Blaine were all out of theirs as well. Good. We were done. We struggled away from the crowd and toward the entrance gate. We offered each other nods to signify a job well done. We laughed as we approached the entrance gate. Then, in a very comical and ironical realization we harmonized in our exclamation aloud; "OH NO!" Although our exclamation probably had at least one more unprintable word in it. What idiots we were! We had sold our own tickets!

We ran to the line we had just left, and very awkwardly waited until we ended closely enough to read the sign that had the prices on them. It read: "Polo Match Tickets still available- $30 pesos ea." What fortune!

The reason that I printed this story is simply therapeutic. You see, I have just been very recently defeated in my own game. I am forced to pay a large premium to attend the final Wilco show for their Riviera residency. I am hoping that this homeopathic recollection of one of my victories will let me forget that I will be without an arm and a leg tomorrow. But at least I will have seen Wilco play live for 3 hours. Eh, consider this a victory too.

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