Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Road to the Final Four

The Setting: Friday night. Two NCAA tournament games are being played at the local Verizon Center in DC, GMU v. Witchita State and Connecticut v. Washington. The wife and I meet up with some friends to catch a bit of the action at the ESPN Zone downtown.

The Plan: Earlier in the week, we had tried getting tickets to the game, but local interest was high because of GMU. With the games sold out and prices online simply astronomical, it was the ESPN Zone for us. While waiting to be seated (the wait for our table was over 2 hours), we decided that it couldn't hurt to see what scalped tickets were selling for.

The Scalper: While walking the three blocks to the arena, my friend Taylor and I were approached by a wheelin' and dealin' scalper offering tickets at $200 a pop. He fit the scalper profile. Slightly chunky, a little short (around 5'10”), and wrapped in a massive winter coat, he had that shifty scalper look in his eye that made you certain he’d be willing to lie to his grandmother to close a deal.

Us: "$200? That's way too steep for us."

Scalper: "What's the best you can do?"

Us: "$50 a ticket, tops."

Scalper: "$70."

Us: "We said $50 was our max."

Scalper: "$60."

Us: "Nah," as we turned to walk away.

Scalper: "Okay... $200 for all four."

After mulling it over for a minute, we decided to take him up on the offer. The scalper only had three of the tickets on him so he had to run and grab the rest from a partner. I stayed on the corner and waited for him while Taylor ran to an ATM to withdraw the money.

Taylor returned quickly, but our scalper was no where to be found. We waited around ten minutes and lost hope. We walked around the corner to the arena and started approaching other scalpers.

Other Scalper: "You got any tickets?"

Us: "We're actually looking for some."

Other Scalper: "I got you covered for one at $200."

Us: "Well... that's too much... plus we need four tickets anyway."

Other Scalper: "I don't think any of us have four tickets."

At this point our old scalper friend whistled to us from across the street. We hustled over and he pulled out his tickets. Taylor got the money out, but we asked to look at the tickets first. Gripping them tightly, the scalper showed them to us. They looked legit. Right times, right game, right arena. We made the exchange and turned to walk back to the restaurant and retrieve our wives. Feeling entrepreneurial though, Taylor sent me back alone and went to see what prices we might be able to fetch for the tickets ourselves... hey, if the price was right maybe we'd just pocket the difference and watch the game from the restaurant afterall.

The Kicker: When I got to the ESPN Zone, Taylor's wife Jennifer (sitting patiently with our table pager) handed me her cell phone.

Taylor on the other end: "Dude, the tickets are counterfeit." It was like a bad dream. Apparently, one of the other scalpers had agreed to pay us $100 bucks a ticket... until he caught sight of them. They were decent replicas, only they weren't glossy and the NCAA tournament emblem on them was duller than it should have been. Someone had had fun with a copying machine and some stock paper. We couldn't believe how dumb we'd been. A scalper selling tickets off of the main scalping drag for what seemed like reasonable prices when other scalpers were short tickets. We shoulda' known... we shoulda' known.

The Attempt: Stuck with counterfeit tickets, we figured we had nothing to lose in trying to use them. So I dropped Melbo and Jennifer off at the Verizon Center and waited in the car at the curb while they met up with Taylor. The wives were to try first. If they got in, I'd pay for parking and then Taylor and I would give it a go.

Melbo and Jennifer approached the ticket-taker nonchalantly, handing her the counterfeits they casually tried to chit-chat. We knew the gig was up when the ticket-taker began shaking her head though. She called over her supervisor who confiscated the fakes and smiled as he turned another pair of suckers away.

We got scammed, duped, hoodwinked... royally screwed. Out $200 with no hope of getting into the games, our wives were now officially starving and we weren't even sure if we still had a place in line at the ESPN Zone (the pager was out of range... we'd taken it "just in case"). It was a dangerous situation.

The Moral: God never leaves you when you're down and out. In those moments when you're feeling heavy laden, when the burden is more than you can bear, when you’ve done something so stupid you’re going to kick yourself for years to come over it, he's always there to lift you up. You see, as we left the arena, we bumped into a few guys who had paid $200 bucks a ticket for their counterfeits. Funny how meeting someone stupider than you can make you feel that much better about a crappy situation.

The Epilogue: Unbelievably, we still managed to get back in time to claim our table at the ESPN Zone (our pager had been next in line to go off when we returned). We finished off the night watching the 2nd half of the GMU game and a some of Villanova, Georgetown and UConn games on the big screen (they basically all overlapped). With the frenzied hometown crowd going bonkers as GMU pulled it out against Wichita, it ended up being a pretty good night… or at least a salvaged one.


melbo said...

It still ended up being a great night! My favorite part was when those other guys told Jen & me they'd paid $200 a piece for their fakes and later told you & Taylor (after hearing what we paid) their tickets "only" cost $100. I love it when silly boys try to save face. At least my man knows how to accept a loss graciously, even telling the whole world how he got scammed through his blog. You're a winner in my book, hubs!

BA said...

Way to only lose a hundred bucks Marc!

tigerfoxbear said...

Marc, I have this great new business opportunity, it's called 12DailyPro, I just need a $2,000 deposit.

Marc said...

Fool me once, shame on you... Fool me twice, shame on me.

melbo said...

Thats not how it goes, Marc.
Everyone knows the old saying in Tennessee. Well, I know it's in Texas, and probably in Tennessee, that says: "Fool me once, shame on... shame on you. If fooled, you can't get fooled again."

Marc said...

Was that a haphazard attempt at quoting our dearest President?

melbo said...

Maybe. But I also found this video while running a google search for that last picture. I dare you not to laugh.

Sue Ellen Mischke said...

Ahhh the shifty scalper look. I can spot it a mile away.

That sucks. I have such bad luck that I'd never buy tickets from a scalper. I'm certain to end up in this exact position if I ever press my luck.

Gargantus said...

and with my luck, i probably would have found like 6 tickets and sold two to make a sweet profit.

Jess said...

he he he... that video made me laugh Melbo...

melbo said...

Hmmm... maybe I should've posted it on my own blog...

Tara said...

New blog MARC!!! I'm bored here!

Marc said...

Sorry. Law school's a b**ch. I'll try to get one up tonight.