Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Puppies Puppies Puppies Puppies Puppies!

CRP authors in the blogosphere this week: Dirk Jamison writes for Largehearted Boy and Doug Crandell gets written up for Post Road Magazine. These are two of my favorite new voices we've published recently, and both of the write-ups just make me love them even more.

Scroll down here to last week's episode, fast forward to approximately minute seven, and revel in the glory that is a This American Life piece on--wait for it--The Puppy Channel. I know, I could hardly believe it either. (Thanks for this and the Post Road link, LK.)

Has anyone anywhere ever had a relatively good/positive experience buying tickets for an event? Because I honestly don't think I have. I'm not talking about the sweet old lady who took your money at the front door of your little sister's choir concert. I'm talking about buying tickets to see a rock show or whatever. When I use Ticketmonster, I feel screwed, which makes me angry. When I make the effort to go to a box office, people are usually bitchy, which pisses me off. I hustled as fast as I could after work last night to get to the box office at the Metro before it closed at 6 to buy tickets for this weekend's Gogol Bordello show (Nora Rocket and JZ and I will be MAKING MERRY OUT OF NOTHING, LIKE IN REFUGEE CAMP! OH YEAH, WHOA NO!). My dilemma: will I make it to the box office in time if I try to hunt down one of my bank's very few cash machines in the distance between my office and the venue? But, what's this? Joy of joys: the website says they accept Visa, Mastercard, and American Express! Perfection. What an epoch of convenience I'm lucky to be living in!

Still, I'm cutting it close (thank you, rush hour brown line delays!), and I blow in to the Metro store windswept and out of breath at about 5:55. There are maybe four or five people standing behind various counters, some setting up merch for that night's show, others tapping on laptops and flipping through magazines. No eye contact whatsoever is made with the frantic, disheveled Polish tornado that has just tumbled through the door. I stagger around the room, trying to deduce if any of these clearly superior specimens of humanity have any interest in helping a sister out. I finally point-blank ask a petite blond woman, "can I buy tickets for a show on Saturday?" "Oh, you'll have to talk to her," she says, pointing to a woman standing about eight feet to her right. For fuck's sake. "Hi, can I buy three tickets for the Gogol Bordello show on Saturday?" I ask the woman standing eight feet to my left. She barely says a word to me, makes minimal eye contact, and starts processing the order. I reach into my bag for my wallet, and, just to be sure, I ask, "I can use a card to pay, right?" This query is met with eyeballs of steel. "There's a 4% surcharge on the total ticket price if you want to use a card." I temporarily die for a moment, standing right there on my own two little feet as I hear this, because OMG, WTF, not being surcharged was the whole reason I elected to make the journey to the box office in the first place and being able to use my card was the whole reason I didn't stop for cash on the way! (Bitch.) But, as politely as I can muster (read: not very politely at this point), I ask if there are any cash machines in the vicinity. "There's one on the front of the building, there's one across the street, there's one on the corner, but I'm closin' in five minutes." This is the point at which, in all exchanges like this, I am always tempted to begin weeping and rending my garmets as I deliver a soliloquy on the theme of Am I Not Pure of Heart? Am I not pure of heart? Did I not try as hard as I could to get here as quickly as I could? Was I not met with transportation challenges on the way? Did I not initially consider withdrawing cash from my checking account to make this transaction easier on you, the customer service representative? Is it not spring in Chicago and was I not struggling to walk against the wind off the lake with my very short skirt threatening to become my very short belt every step of the way? Regardless, I would like to believe that that exceptionally moving performance was subtextually obvious when I, instead, said, "um, OK, then here ya go," and handed over my debit card.

I mean, whatevs. I got the tickets, I'm going to the show, I'm looking forward to it, all is well in the kingdom of Entropy. But, is it just me, or are these hoops that must inevitably be jumped through just not very rock 'n' roll? I mean, how do the corduroy-clad hipsterati deal with these sorts of indignities when they're making plans to go see Art Brut or whoeverthefuck? Or is it just me? Do these box office workers smell the square on me when I walk in the door and then proceed to treat me like the guy from High Fidelity who was looking for a copy of "I Just Called to Say I Love You"? But, I mean, I usually walk among them fairly well disguised--hello, little camouflage skirt, bright red lipstick, black plastic frame glasses, black messenger bag festooned with band pins? What else do they want from me? People, people, people--there has got to be a better way!

7 comments:

brendan said...

The Variety Playhouse, indie venue of choice here in the ATL, sells tickets through their website and generally without much surcharge (and sometimes none). Then you don't even have to worry about a paper ticket because they put you on the guest list and you just have to show your ID to get it.

MJ said...

I think you should just be more confrontational. Start some fights. We need more uproar. I'm going to start f-ing with every single salesperson who ticks me off. I'm gonna say, "I had your job. Be nice."--Even if I never had their job. People are just too caught up in their own lives to care. It's time for the customer service revolution! The customer is ALWAYS right, damnit.

jonesybot said...

I LOVE the puppy channel episode. I've listened to that episode a couple of times and always kind of wish that guys was my dad too. He is just so endearing when he is singing about puppies. I think it was a good idea!

Michael O'D said...

Awesome rant. One of your best. My hair's standing straight up and I'm peeling bugs and roadkill off my face. Also: my left leg appears to have been severed.

Chris said...

MJ I have to disagree. There are many times that the customer is NOT always right. But those of us on the other side of the counter/phone are taught/trained to "reward" them for their asinine behavior, thus re-enforcing the fact that they can treat customer service personnel like garbage. If you "had their job" at one point you might remember what it was like and, maybe instead of antagonizing them let's try a bit of empathy. How does it go, "you catch more bees with honey..."

Don't get me wrong Customer Service folk can make me lose faith in the human race at times too...

Mikow said...

You are now and will forever be known to me as The Polish Tornado.

My personal favorite ticketmaster nightmare was when a friend had bought two tickets for the NIN show in Phoenix, which ended up being cancelled because the drummer apparently couldn't handle his drugs. Puss.

Anyway, ticketmaster not only took 2 WEEKS(!) to refund their money, but they kept the fucking "service charge".

Talk about getting screwed with your pants on...

Anonymous said...

I nearly stressed myself out to the point of collapse on the ticketmaster site this morning. And you know, that little timer in the corner telling me I have 2 minutes to decide before the tickets are lost forever sure doesn't help.

Enjoy the show though! Nick