Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Joko the Ticket Scalper

When my A's beat the Twinkies in the first round of the baseball playoffs, I felt compelled to go and see them in person during the American League Championship Series. Given my newly single status, I was even prepared to buy just a single ticket and go all by myself. Well, the spirit of the playoff baseball gripped the office and, and four of us all were going to go together. We went online and found four seats together for $150 each. Good value for a sold-out playoff game. Somehow, I got talked into putting it on my credit card. As the day approached, two co-workers backed out when it looked doubtful that we would be able to expense the excurcsion, but the slack was taken up when I offered a ticket to my dad, and the boss decided to take his father-in-law.

Today was the day of the game, and it didn't go too well. I might have witnessed Barry Zito's last home start in an A's uniform; we lost 5 to 1. Worse yet, the boss got sick, and couldn't go. Now I had two extra $150 tickets that I had to unload. I posted them on Craigslist. I had co-workers call friends and relatives. No takers. Three hours before first pitch, I boarded the train to the Oakland Colisseum, intent on selling the tickets at the game itself. Mind you, selling tickets at a sporting event for higher than face value is a crime, and (lately anyways) I'm really not a very good criminal.

First thing though, I had to eat. I skipped lunch. It was 3:00 by the time I got there, and I went to a little burger joint right accross from the train station. Turns out this place was the hangout of the professional ticket scalpers. Stragely though, none of them asked me if I wanted to buy tickets. Maybe they recognized me as another seller. I was sure to learn much, I thought! Then, as I was standing in line to order, I learned why none of them were approaching me. "What can we do for you, officer?" one of the dudes quipped in line behind me They thought I looked like a cop!

Well, I should have turned around right there and told them that no, I was no cop, in fact I was looking to do some business. I had decided that the easiest way to accomplish unloading the tickets would be to sell them to a scalper and let him re-sell them. Instead, being a bit nervous about the whole ordeal, I decided I probably wouldn't be able to break through their mistrust, and so I just settled in with my catfish and fries and tried to think of a new plan.

I've seen numerous scalpers on the bridge leading from the station to the stadium on previous visits to sporting events. My plan became to hang out on the bridge, watch the scalpers who would identify possible ticket buyers, and then come behind them and approcah anyone they were unable to make a sale with. I wanted to get my money back, but I really didn't want to get stuck with two worthless tickets.

What I saw on the bridge made me keep going. Three seperates scalpers were being written tickets by cops in the 500 or so feet of this bridge! I'm too old to risk getting anything more serious than a parking ticket.

Ah ha! I would work the parking lot! I start by wandering through the cars, making eye contact with everyone I saw, cryptically holding two fingers up by my chest, trying to tindicate I had two tickets to sell. I'm lucky I wasn't accosted for making inadvertant gang signs. This method didn't work. All I got were strange looks.

"Anybody need tickets?" I started going from one group of tailgaters to another, giving up on any subtlety. Some people stopped me and asked how much,. but they were just curious "what scalpers were selling them for." "I am no scalper!" I protested, "one of my co-workers who was supposed to come got sick!! That's all!!" Whatever. Time was ticking. It was an hour before game time.

I was ready to give up and go to the official ticket office to see if I could turn them in for credit, cash, anything. Finally, a scalper approached me and offered to sell me tickets. No, I told him, I am actually looking to sell. They were good seats. Field level. Behind the home dugout.

"I'll give you a hundred bucks for the pair right now," he offered. No way. I want to get what I paid for them. $150 each. Oh, no, that was too mcuh for him. Oh well. I wasn't selling for $50 each. I was resigned to the idea that if the tickets became worthless I would demand the full $300 from the boss who had taken ill. I walked away. The sclaper walked parallel to me, and I loked over at him, still feeling it was my duty to get something for the tickets. He consulted with another scalper, and then came over, saying very professionally, "work with me here." We haggled. My final offer was $10 from his, so I conceded and sold the pair, 1 hour before first pitch, for $75 each. I still plan on getting the other $150 from the boss.

We stepped behind a port-o-potty and made the trade. It occurred to me as I walked away that I had done nothing illegal! The face value of the tickets was $75 each! It's perfectly okay to sell them at face value, and I had $150 in cash in my pocket. My parting words to the guy were, "sell them to good people, I'm gonna have to sit next to them". His last words were, "I'm taking a big risk here."

Sure enough, his risk didn't pay off. Inning after inning went by, the A's fell bhind, and the two seats next to me and Dad remained empty. He hadn't sold them! About the 4th inning, another father-son pair appeared, smiling, and took the seats. I told them I had sold those tickets to a scalper and I was really curious what they had paid.

"We had tickets for section 254 (second deck, in the outfield), we gave him those tickets and $20 for these!! And we were given our original tickets for free!"

Looks like they made out the best.


Monday, October 09, 2006

Thirst and suffering

I've created a new blog dedicated to my metaphysical inquiries.

Please read and comment if you wish at



Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Let's go OAKLAND!!!

Yesterday, I called in to work and said I wouldn't be in because of playoff baseball. No *cough* *cough*.. oh, I don't feel good, lying stuff. The boss is a HUGE sports fan and said he completely understood. I came in at 1:30, stayed late, and have the same arrangement for today... A's vs Twins starts in minutes!

Yesterday morning, the boss warned that the senior national vice president over the entire arm of the company would be calling and would likely quiz whoever answered the phone on new important company guidelines. Be prepared. Of course, I wasn't there to hear that, and guess who answered the phone when my boss's boss's boss called? Yup. Me, giddy with excitemen after my Oakland A's beat the Twins.

He asked me trick questions, which I answered incorrectly but quickly recovered after realizing what he was doing. I got the equivalent of a B-, and I'm building the reputation for being the top dog in the office. Oh well.