A goddamn scalper ruined my Fourth of July.
Well, I guess I ruined it. But that doesn’t mean I won’t shift the blame to this guy for the rest of eternity.
I was circling Wrigley Field on Monday afternoon, walking down Sheffield Ave. between Addison and Murphy’s Bleachers on Waveland, when I decided, “Hey, what the hell, might as well scalp some tickets to the game.” The Cubs were already beating the Cincinnati Reds by six runs in the third inning, so I figured someone outside the stadium would be offloading tickets they couldn’t get rid of for dirt cheap. After all, in about two hours, those tickets wouldn’t be worth the paper they were printed on.
I was wrong. I went to Scalpers’ Cove and offered what I thought was a fair price: $100 for two tickets. They practically laughed me off the block.
“100 for two tickets? On the Fourth of July? At Wrigley Field?” one scalper asked so incredulously that I felt embarrassed to have even presented it as an opportunity. “Take a hike.”
“Whatever, man,” I said, secretly devastated that a group of scalpers collectively owned me so hard in public. “It’s the third inning.”
“Shit, man,” he laughed. “These prices are about to go up.”
Dejectedly, I walked away. My girlfriend consoled me as I imagined what life was like, mere feet away. Inside Wrigley Field. On the Fourth of July.
But suddenly my prayers were answered. An old man in a red hat approached me and said, “I heard you were looking for tickets. I got two for ya. $120 a piece.”
My heart burst with joy. But I had to act cool.
“How about $100?” I asked.
“Alright. $100 it is.”
Stupidly, I handed him the cash and he handed me the tickets. SRO? Hmm. That’s a section number I didn’t recognize.
The old man didn’t even look at the cash I handed him. What a dumb businessman, I thought. I could be ripping him off right now.
“You need to go to Gate F. It’s right there,” he said, pointing to the center field gate.
I knew he was pointing to the bleachers gate, not gate F, but I didn’t hesitate. Clearly he was making a mistake.
I walked straight there and handed the guard my tickets. He pointed the laser at them and it made an unfamiliar noise. He looked at the tickets and tried again. Same noise. He buzzed on his radio for a ticket agent to meet us at the gate. The agent didn’t have to explain the situation to me. I already knew. I had been straight fucked by a scalper on the goddamn FOURTH OF JULY.
“I’m sorry. We can’t let you in. These tickets have been used already.”
FUCK. I turned around and hauled ass back to Scalpers’ Cove. The man in the red hat was long gone. I didn’t care. I was going to find him. I ran up and down Addison, to the train station and back. I circled the stadium twice. I was going to get my god damn money back. And if not, I was going to yell at every scalper I saw.
“Don’t buy from them,” I shouted in a haze to no one in particular. “They’re all a bunch of crooks selling fraudulent tickets.”
“BOY WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU JUST SAY?”
God damn it. I didn’t actually want confrontation. But at this point, what did it matter? I was already out $100 bucks. Could it get any worse? I turned to him and looked him dead in the eye.
“I said, one of your boys is out here selling fraudulent tickets.”
“Man, fuck you, I work for a broker,” he shouted. “I could have your ass in jail for libel for saying shit like that out here. Or worse.” (Note: He couldn’t have my ass thrown in jail)
I thought for a moment what he meant by worse. Then I said, “Well keep your eyes out for some douchebag ripping people off.” I don’t know why I said this. He wasn’t going to do anything.
“Man, don’t blame us because you’re a dumbass and got ripped off,” he said, while his whole crew of scalpers laughed.
He was right. It was entirely my fault. I knew it. He knew it. His crew knew it. My girlfriend, totally embarrassed by me, knew it. And worse: The boys at Scalpers’ Cove were once again taking pleasure in my shame and embarrassment.
Was this a low point in life? Could it get any worse? A loud roar interrupted these thoughts. I turned around and could see the jumbotron through the corner of the gate.
“Home Run, Cubs!”
A scalper groupie shouted in my direction, “Bet that would have been cool to see, huh?”
A perfectly American moment on a perfectly beautiful American day. Wasted by my own stupidity. My girlfriend took my hand and walked me to the train. It’s time to go home, she tells me. You’ve had enough torment for one day. She was right.
Why should you care about this? I’m not sure you should. But I always thought I was too smart to be fooled into buying bullshit scalpers tickets, and I was wrong. Never think it can’t happen to you. If I can offer you one piece of advice this week, it would be this: Never buy from tickets with cash from homeless men without some up-front guarantees. It might just save your holiday weekend from turning to absolute shit..
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