Monday, I decided to get last-minute tickets to see U2 at Madison Square Garden. They’re my favorite rock band (unless Bruce and the E Street Band count) and I’ve seen them live many times. I wanted to get tickets when they went on sale months ago– and even put an alarm in my phone– but on that day some domestic distraction prevented me from getting on the phone or computer at the right time and by the time I did, decent seats were sold out.
I was disappointed and mad at myself so I did what I often do (and wish I didn’t) I avoided the problem until too late, because it was too painful to deal.
Then our own personal Ticketmaster– Wilson’s brother, Jon– got four free tickets in a box for a Saturday night two weeks ago. I was thrilled.
Until I realized it conflicted with my BlogHer plans. I couldn’t ditch my out-of- town guest and all the fun of BlogHerpalooza so I gave my ticket up and Wilson went with his cousin.
But you may remember that a few weeks ago, my sister-in-law got tickets an hour before the Taylor Swift concert, and got great seats. So I decided I would be fun and spontaneous and try to score tickets the day of the concert. I was already in the city for work and had to pass MSG to get to Penn Station for my train home so it seemed like a low-risk, high-excitment endeavor.
I solicited my friend, Karen, to go and she enthusiastically returned my text: “OMG that would be so much fun!” she replied encouragingly.
Buoyed by Karen’s whimsy and dreams of getting a wink from the Edge from my last-minute floor seat, I checked StubHub for tickets. The cheapest seats started at $180 and they were behind the stage. Not good.
Wilson told me the show featured a giant screen that ran the length of the venue so if we were behind the stage we would miss all the action and visuals. Although it was a Monday night and they were playing like 8 shows in NYC, there were barely any seats available and they ranged from $350-850. Each!
I was feeling impulsive and crazy, but not that crazy.
I downloaded the StubHub app to my phone and began obsessively checking for seats. I went to the StubHub office in midtown, hoping I could charm someone there into state secrets on how to get last-minute seats that didn’t cost as much as a pair of Bono’s custom sunglasses.
It’s really kind of insane how much you have to fork over to see live music these days. Like cuckoo.
But I digress.
So Karen and I show up at MSG and stand in a line for people without tickets hoping to get last-minute releases. We knew that line of at least 20 people was not bearing fruit, but that line is how scalpers know you are in need.
We surveyed the situation and were approached by at least three scalpers. The first had only three teeth and very dirty shoes– no joke– and seemed pissed off. We didn’t engage him.
Another seemed sketchy and only talked out of the side of his mouth, while darting his eyes around, probably scanning for cops, who were lingering close by. We weren’t sure if we could get arrested for buying tickets from a scalper or if only the scalpers were at risk.
Did I mention Karen is a lawyer and very practical? Between that and my fear of making a bad choice that would put us out up to $500, we were not terrific scalper customers.
But we found one guy– let’s call him Joe Tickets, cuz that’s the name he gave me when I got his cell phone later– whom I trusted. He looked me in the eye, he was funny and he seemed to have a more honest face than the others. He said he would give us a ticket for one of us to go inside and find the seats to ensure they were legit. Then the other person would give him the cash for both tickets and get the other ticket. Seemed foolproof.
He had two tickets in a decent section for $250 each. $50 more than we wanted to pay, but it was now 8:10pm and the show was starting in 10 minutes so we began to feel desperate.
But that desperate feeling also made us doubt ourselves. We saw a couple buy the tickets from Joe and the husband disappeared while the wife waited outside for the call. She eventually wandered away so Joe’s tickets seemed to be the real thing (just like the U2 song.)
We hesitated….and just like that… the tickets were gone. Joe whispered into several other dudes’ ears, but all the seats were taken and the music had already started.
So much for spontaneity.
We walked into Penn Station (no place to lick your wounds) in a daze. We kind of couldn’t believe we really weren’t seeing U2. This isn’t how we pictured the story ending.
I attribute much of my initial excitement and subsequent disappointment to my acute case of FOMO (fear of missing out.) I get an idea in my head that I want to do something– it can be a pop culture event like this, or a party, or even a family activity– and I start to get anxious if I have a conflict and can’t make it happen.
I missed the “last” Grateful Dead shows in my home town a few weeks ago….U2 for BlogHer…I went to Taylor Swift and didn’t get to see The Wailers playing at Maplewoodstock….Wilson had only 4 tickets to the Met game and didn’t have enough tickets for me.
First world problems, I know. Woe is lucky me. But I can get my panties in a twist over missing stuff, and I cant figure out why. It happens with events, but also TV shows, movies, vacation spots. What personality defect does this reflect?
You know what doesn’t help my FOMO issues? Fucking Facebook.
As Karen and I sheepishly boarded our train home, we chatted a bit before checking our phones. I went onto Facebook to retrieve a message. As I scrolled through, I saw at least three friends posting photos from inside the show I was missing at that exact moment.
Photos, videos, and excited bursts of concert joy rattled and hummed on my feed. I hated them all.
We still hadn’t found what we’re looking for.
By the next day, the feelings of disappointment and regret had subsided and I realized that, of course, there will be other concerts. Karen and I had fun and impromptu dinner and drinks that never would have happened.
That’s the lesson I’m still striving to learn. To be present and satisfied with the moment I’m in. Cuz most of them are pretty great.
What gives you FOMO? Tell me in the comments.