Little-known equation

On a recent Saturday morning, I went to the advance-sale window at the Vet to exchange one of my tickets. I am one of those rare specimens in Philadelphia — a baseball fan and a purchaser of a 16-game ticket plan since 1976. I wanted to exchange a ticket for a game I couldn’t make to see a game with the Giants the following Tuesday.

There were four people ahead of me in line in front of the one sales window that was open when I got there. Forty-five minutes later, there were still four people in front of me in line. I’m not sure what the problem was. The harried young woman behind the window didn’t say, although she did mention that another ticket window could not be opened because she was the only one there.

After all, it was Saturday, when most people have off with the Phillies returning home the following week. Why, indeed, would anyone bother to show up to sell tickets?

While the rest of us dawdled in line, potential customers came and left when they saw the disgusted looks on our faces. After 15 more minutes of the woman checking the computer for the customer at the window, a beefy guy in his 20s who kept getting calls on his cell phone, the ticket lady tells him she can fill all but two dates on his ticket order. (Why this guy was buying a ton of tickets is beyond me. Maybe he was a time traveler from 1980 and still thought the Phils were a hot ticket?)

Come back Monday when the lady’s here who knows how to manage the computer, she told him. I don’t know how. The guy with the cell phone grumbled menacingly, took his tickets and left.

The other three people in front of me were disposed of quickly. Finally, my turn came at the window and I explained that I wanted a ticket for Tuesday night in exchange for next Friday. Well, that wasn’t possible; you see, you can only exchange your tickets from the 16-game plan for certain dates and that wasn’t one of them.

I explained that I had just waited in line an hour, that I have been a season-ticket holder for the last 26 years, and that I would be willing to pay any difference in price. But the ticket lady wasn’t listening. She didn’t see the problem. Look, she said, here’s a nice Wednesday game against the Expos with lots of good seats available that you can have.

Actually, there are lots of good seats available for most Phils games where they aren’t exploding fireworks or giving away bobble-head dolls, but I couldn’t make it on that Wednesday.

She thanked me and wished me a good day. By then I had wasted an hour and 15 minutes and was returning home with the same ticket that I couldn’t use.

Fast-forward to a recent Wednesday night when my wife and I had tickets for the Mann Center for the Performing Arts. We waited for the Mann Loop bus in front of the Academy of Music, a pickup point, but there was no bus. In 95-degree heat, we ran to several other scheduled pickup points in search of the bus, but to no avail.

Finally we arrived at 12th and Filbert, and finally the bus arrived. Actually, there were no signs to designate where the bus was heading, but lucky for us we were there when the driver yelled out the door, "Anybody here for the Mann?"

It turned out the driver didn’t know how to get to the Mann or where to park when he got there, but he worked it out and we weren’t going to complain. We arrived at our seats, the last row under cover, a full hour and 15 minutes before the concert. Why the bus had been scheduled so early is something that will remain a mystery. We sat in our seats and proceeded to munch on a couple of hoagies when a guard came over with a stern look on her face.

"You’ll have to move," she told us, "the house isn’t open yet." We looked around for a "house." Again she admonished us, but surely there must be some mistake; we were sitting in our seats. I confidently showed her our ticket stubs, but she waved them away.

The "house" is apparently all the seats under the concert shell, and the ushers just weren’t ready for us. We really didn’t need an usher to show us to our seats because we were already in them, but she would hear none of it. (Did she work for the Phillies part-time?)

There are plenty of green seats that you can sit in, she explained, pointing to a sea of empty seats behind us. But if we had wanted to sit in the green seats, we would have paid less and bought tickets for those seats. She moved us, hoagies and all, only to come by five minutes later, yelling to us (there was no one else around), "The house is now open."

One thing I did find out that night: If you take the IQ of the security guard and add it to the IQ of the lady at the ticket window and divide by last night’s winning Play Three lottery ticket, you get Britney Spears’ real bust size.