Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Busted for scalping

I went to France for the World Cup in 1998.If you have never been to a World Cup game I highly recommend it.  Its an amazing melting pot of people and perspectives that creates a level of energy that is unmatched.  Of course attending a game is complicated.  First, the World Cup is usually in some distant country, its Brazil in 2014.  Sure just a simple plane ticket away right?  $1335 on American according to Expedia.com and you have to stop in Dallas.  Then you have to deal with the challenges of lodging, transportation and food in a very different culture, sure it is a fun adventure but it takes work.  I mean seriously, in Brazil the Big Mac is more expensive, based on currency valuation, than any where else in the world.  Some Americans are going to have issues.  But the most difficult part of seeing a World Cup game is getting a ticket.  You cannot just buy them, you have to sign up for the lottery.  You wont get them, well you will get tickets, its just they will be for a match between 2 countries you did not even know existed.  You see, its the most over subscribed sporting event in the world.  Does that mean you should not go?  Hell no, you just go and scalp tickets at the stadium.

My friend Dino, looks just like Leo doesn't he?  That is another blog though...

When I went France to see the 1998 World Cup with Dino, the lottery passed us by so Dino and I arrived in France expecting to scalp.  The first game we wanted to watch was the US vs Iran.  As tough as we act, neither Dino nor I have ever scalped tickets before.  So we slink up to the stadium looking for the crowd of people indicating the "location".  We have to walk almost all the way around the stadium before we find it, perhaps we should have just looked around before we started walking?  As we approach the crowd I say, lets watch a couple of deals to see how it works.  Seems simple enough, ask the location and price of a few different sellers and when you find the seats you want move in for the negotiation, agree on a price and both tickets and cash exchange hands simultaneously.

So at about 15 to the whistle we decide to dive in, we start asking around looking for reasonable seats.  We find a guy with 2 seats right behind a goal about 20 rows up, not great but good.  The price is average so we try and negotiate, he is not budging.  Sigh.  We want to see the match so we say OK.  I hand him francs and he hands me tickets.  Then he pulls out a police badge and says, give me the tickets back.  Crap, really, what are the odds we pick the cop?  I mean seriously deals are going down everywhere.  I take a closer look at the badge and its real.  I look back at him and then it hits me, he asked for the tickets.  He is going to let me go, keep my money, take the tickets,  and sell them again.  He is probably going to then watch the game with those tickets himself.  So I know only one way out of the pickle and that is demand to be arrested and then turn him in at the station.  In french I say, "take me to the station immediately" and he says "what"  I know the gig is up.  So I start yelling "POLICE, POLICE".  He is stunned and starts looking around afraid he is going to get busted.  I look at Dino and I say run!  We do not stop until we are in our seats.

This is one of my super powers, knowing when to call BS.  I am good, I would say I am right more than 90% of the time.  The process I use is very simple, I do a quick statistical calculation and if it seems to contradict my experience and or my knowledge then I call BS.  It's not like I jump up and scream out, "You sir, are a liar" instead I start to ask questions to see how well they have their bases covered.  Simple stuff like, "really, what color was it?"  Or where did you learn that.  Sometimes I will come out and say, it just does not smell right but only if I am POSITIVE.  Side note: one time I was on a plane and the guy next to me was FARTING, yeah, capitalized.  After a while I cannot stand it any longer so I look at the guy and say, "excuse me but could you please stop farting and go to the bathroom?"  He says, "wasn't me."  To which I respond, "what do you think the odds are someone on a plane asks you to stop farting and they are not absolutely positive its you?"  In response he merely nods and then starts going to the bathroom.

That is all you have to do, be alert and if something doesn't smell right it probably isn't.

My wife watches me do this and thinks I am crazy, but she is amazed how often I am right.

What's your superpower?

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