So there we were. I flew to Chicago over the Christmas break with my son Josh. We used up all our airmiles. The plan was to meet up with an old friend in Chicago who would secure some tickets for us to the Bulls game against Miami. At the last minute we found out that my friend hadn’t been able to get tickets and that he wouldn’t even be able to meet us because of a family emergency. No, really.
So we went out to the Arena where the Bulls play to buy tickets early in the afternoon of game day. We had just landed that a.m. and I was trying to impress Josh with my ability to understand and navigate the Chicago mass transit system. We had bought 2 day travel passes after we landed and it was the best investment I’ve made in a long time. We arrived at the arena after getting off one stop too late. My bad. We walked to the ticket window and discovered that there weren’t two seats together anywhere in the arena for that night’s game. We could get two tickets, but not together. Josh was a little bummed and we passed on sitting away from each other.
The guy in the ticket window told us to come back that night around 5:30 p.m. as tickets might be available. “Do you mean there’ll be guys standing out here selling tickets or do you mean you’ll have more tickets?” I asked. “I really can’t say,” was his poker faced reply.
“sigh – o.k. but if I come back out, you’ll have tickets?”
“It’s very likely but I can’t say for sure. Just come back at 5:30.”
I didn’t know if this was code or if I just needed to rephrase my questions,
“Blink once if you will have tickets to sell, twice if you won’t…”
Anyway, we left and went back to our hotel that smelled like Hong Kong. (If you’ve been to HK you know exactly the smell I mean.) On the way I managed to get us two subway stops from our hotel before jumping on the subway to get the rest of the way. I jumped on the wrong direction and after the 2nd stop realized my mistake in time for us to jump off at the 3rd stop. Josh was very impressed at this point and started to laugh at me and mock me in front of everyone on the train. I deserved this.
We got off and back on. An hour after we started a trip that could’ve taken 15 minutes we arrived back to our room and the exotic, that’s what we’ll say, exotic smell of the East.
I called around to ticket agents in Chicago. For a small fee we could get two tickets together up a little behind one of the baskets. I was hoping for the 50 or 60 dollar tickets.
“How much are these going to cost me?”
“$220 each but you’ll have to buy them now, they won’t last.”
“Uhm, thanks but I’ll pass.”
Josh was being cool about it but things were NOT looking good for our “Christmas present to Josh” to actually come together. We left the room again after a rest and headed back to the United Center Arena.
It was getting dark now and we snapped some pics with the Michael Jordan statue out front and then headed to the window for tickets. On our way to the window a guys asked, “Got any tickets to sell?”
“We’re here to buy some.”
We went to the window. Two now. Others were walking away looking like they’d come up empty. I stepped up with faith and confidence and asked for two tickets together up in the cheap seats. No tickets. None. No standing room, no cheap seats, nada.
We stepped back a few paces and I just stared at the window thinking a prayer, “O God, O God, O God…” as I glanced over at Josh to gauge his depression. He was still cool but I could tell he was thinking we wouldn’t be seeing the Bulls that night unless we caught an old game on TV from our Thai scented room.
Another guy walked up to us, “Want to buy some tickets?”
“Yeah, have you got two together?”
“Sure, sure, good seats too.” I looked at the tickets, great seats up in the rafters back in one ‘corner’ of the arena. But they were together.
“$140 for the pair.”
I calculated what I had left in my pocket for the trip. That would’ve taken everything I had left for tonight and the next day before we left. Reluctantly I passed.
“How much you looking to spend?”
“$100,” I said.
“Not tonight,” he laughed, “not for Miami.” And he walked away.
“O God, O God, O God…” Someone taps my shoulder and I turn around.
“Do you have tickets for the game?” a nice older lady asked.
“No, we’re in line here hoping they’ll have some tickets later.”
“Well,” she says, “I’m a season ticket holder and I had a better offer to go out tonight so I won’t be going to the game and I was hoping to sell my tickets.”
“You have two tickets?”
“Yes, two tickets together.”
Gulp, be cool, don’t wet yourself, I think. “Where are they?”
“Center court but up on the 3rd level.”
O.K., wet yourself. Oh, wait.
“How much do you want.” I realize my voice is actually quivering as I say this and I hope Josh doesn’t notice.
“Well, they’re worth $50 each and I was hoping to at least get that for them.”
Sweet, sweet, wonderful, beautiful lady, or perhaps angel, sent from God.
“We’ll take them!” The money was out of my pocket and into her hands and we were holding our two golden tickets. Josh grinned.
The Scalper came over quick to see where the tickets were and what we’d paid for them. He was disgusted. I was yelling, “Bless you!” at the lady as she disappeared into the crowd behind us. We made our way around to the entrance and waited for the doors to open and Josh and I talked about the theological implications of the event. “What if my friend had come, she had two tickets, not three we would have had to pass on these…” “What if we had left right away or come out later?” “What if I paid that Scalper the $140?”
We had an amazing night in two amazing seats that I suspect had actually been reserved for us. And we had enough money left over for the next day to eat at La Bamba where the Burritos are as big as your head.