Saturday, October 22, 2011

Box Seats

Fifteen tickets to Real Salt Lake vs. the Portland Timbers.  Precious because they are in the (y'all ready for this?) Chevron corporate box.  They were a donation to Adult Education, so my colleague Ray M. and I spent a lot of time considering the fairest way to distribute the tickets among 140 students (Perfect attendance?  For how many months?  One ticket per student?  Or two?  What if someone with great attendance is not a soccer fan?  How do we impress upon them that the seats are valuable, and that they should only accept them if they are really going to attend?  How do we make sure the students know where they're headed, where to park, etc....?) 
 I actually donned my uniform shirt for the first time ever. So I would look official, especially since I combined the look with my stained housework jeans and my worn-out skaters. 

 I parked in my family's customary place and walked to the stadium, feeling very odd. Prior to separating from Si, this was something we did as a family every couple of weeks.  I haven't been to a soccer match since I moved out in June.  I hate to say that I miss it, but I do.  Today, I parked only a few feet away from Simon's truck:  he had picked up the kids from my place and brought them to the match himself.  I walked to the stadium alone.  No kids to hustle along; no hidden snacks; no big bag of blankets.

I ran in to a couple of students just outside security, hesitating over whether they could bring in food.  Sorry, guys, but no.   Carlos took his Subway sandwich back to the car;  his wife Maria and I went on ahead to find the box.  She hadn't really understood what the big deal was until we were headed into the the area and I pointed to the stairs up to the fourth level. "Oh!  Really!"  There is an additional ticket checker at the foot of the stairs, to make sure you have a reason to be going up there. She looked at us and our tickets with some scepticism, then lifted her eyebrows:  "Ah! Yes, go on up these stairs."  Maria heard the tone of surprise as well:  me mimicked her in whispers as we scampered up the stairs, squeezing each other's arms.  (By the way, I saw folks in the other boxes and no one was dressed up or fancy looking... Maybe there's just something about me that says, "One of the peasants.") We made our way to Suite B.  Posh!  It's like a very snazzy living room with a kitchen area, a fridge, a sofa and a big-screen TV.  There's a bar overlooking the field, and bar stools where you can sit to look out.  Then you can step outside to the stadium seating, which is cushy and padded, not the usual hard plastic seats like the rest of the stadium. 

The server for the suite introduced herself to me, and I was totally up-front about the fact that I know nothing of box-seat etiquette.  Menu service?  Drinks?  Can we bring in beer?  What does everything cost?  Simon had told me that there is generally free food, or at least vouchers for the concession stands included in the ticket price.  Not so for us.  We could go to the stands and pay concession prices, or we could simply ring for service and she would bring us whatever our hearts desire... for a lot more than concession prices.  I never eat or drink when I go to a soccer match, 'cause every thing's so damned expensive, so I wasn't too disappointed at the lack of free goodies.  I explained to the students, "Everything costs money."

This might not seem like a spectacular view to many of you, but believe me: I usually (well, it's not my regular practice anymore, but...) sit in that little top tier that you can see across the way.  This was WAY closer then I have ever sat before.
Here's everybody, at kickoff.  There were some surprises regarding attendees, as is often the case with my students.  I was so careful to choose the people who had the best attendance; to ask each person. "One ticket or two?";  to make sure that the person I offered them to really wanted tickets and planned to come to the match. 

So my first little surprise was when Maria and I got to Level Four and found two kids wandering around up there, alone.  These are the children of Alma C., to whom I had given two tickets.  Alma herself was nowhere in sight.  "Hi, kids!  Where's your mom?"  "Uh...she's sick." "She's not here?  How did you get here?!?"  "Our brother brought us."  Turns out that Alma didn't come at all, but instead sent her older son (who bought a ticket in the cheap seats and sat there for the match; and gave her two kids the box seats. 
Then, Julia A. was there with her husband and two kids.  I had given her two tickets.  "How did you get the kids in here?"  "They had other tickets, which they got at school."  I was a little confused about it, but let it go until I noticed that all the seat were filled and I was still expecting two more students.  Mario and his friend.  Where was Mario?  Why were there not enough seats to go around if everyone had a legitimate ticket?  I felt a bit fussed over it because there was nowhere for him to sit, and because I didn't know what had happened to him.  I even called the box seat supervisor to some and check out the situation.  She told me that she personally had printed off the fifteen tickets and had them delivered to the school.  That's all the tickets there were.  Turns out that Mario had asked me for two tickets, then turned around and handed them over to Julia for her kids.  I wish they had been forthcoming about that from the start, so I would not have been all worried about Mario.  When I figured it out, Julia's husband actually got in my face and was very defensive.  "What's the big deal, anyway?  Maybe the other person didn't really want those tickets and he wanted someone else to have them." 

Naturally, I didn't get into it with him.  Privately, I thought that Mario had insisted that he WOULD enjoy tickets: not just one ticket, but two.  I thought to myself, "There were 15 tickets to share among 140 students.  Did you and your family really deserve to get FOUR of them?"  And I thought, "My kids are not with me..."  But, I learned a long time ago that distributing resources fairly and evenly, so they all go where you think they should go, is nearly impossible.  I responded to the dad that, my only concern was that Mario and his friend were not out wandering through the stadium, looking for us.  

Real Salt Lake 1          Portland:  1

1 comment:

  1. Bing often gets freebies because she works in a high school in the projects.

    She always gives them away. Always. Even the tickets to WICKED that I wanted SO BADLY.

    But, you know...I eventually saw WICKED. On my own dime. And it was the right thing to do.