Let me tell you about a fun experience I had this week. I am using the word “fun” here loosely.
One of the classes I’m in involves making video stories, which is pretty great. (Shout out to Maria and all the ridiculous videos we’ve made that prepared me for this.) I’m currently working on a project that is partnering with a local news organization to create a story about Badger football Saturdays here in Madison. The thrust behind the story is revealing the economic impact of football Saturdays--who makes the moolah? Answer: bars, t-shirt merchants, towing companies, people who let fans use their yards/driveways to park, etc., etc.
I was instructed to make two short videos on two different topics. I chose the parking people (because MY house does that, #easypeasylemonsqueezy) and pedicabs. Pedicabs are like little chariots pulled around on bikes, and you can pay money to have the drivers cart your lazy self around, while they burn upwards of 5,000 calories a minute.
Pedicabs seemed like a good idea the time, being all fun and whimsical and such, but it unfortunately required finding a pedicab owner to see if they would let me film them on Saturday. This proved difficult, probably because all the pedicabs in the world were conspiring against me, which was a bummer. I do not know what I did to anger the inner circle of the Pedicab Mafia, but I humbly repent. I called/emailed/Facebooked/Tweeted company after company, and was met with silence, polite refusal, and more silence.
This meant that the only other workable option left was…scalpers.
I had been avoiding this option, because I knew it was going to involve a lot of me walking up to random scalpers with a camera, and asking them asinine questions while they pitied the fool (me). This is more or less what happened.
I woke up early Saturday morning to begin my filming adventures, and it was raining. Rats. (When editing this, I realized I had accidentally written “raining rats.” That would have been one million thousand times worse and puts life in perspective, does it not?) Also cold. Double rats.
I got my footage for the parking video (thanks, friendly housemates who let me follow them around with a camera and scream “WAAITTTT DON’T DO THAT YET I NEED TO FILM THAT” at them as they tried to accomplish their tasks), then went off in search of friendly scalpers. This was less successful.
Here are all the reasons the scalpers hated me:
- As per the requirements of the project, I had to ask them about actual dollar amounts – how much money can you typically make, etc., etc, and scalping is like, kind of competitive, so they weren’t about to spill their trade secrets to someone who they probably assumed was an eager 12-year old with a large touristy camera.
- It was raining, so they couldn’t sell their tickets, and they were kind of cranky about it. Like 4-year-old before snack time cranky.
- I did not actually want to buy any tickets, bringing them hope when I approached them and crushing that hope when I began my pitch
- I had that big ole camera with me, making them slightly nervous. Although I assured them I wouldn’t film their faces, some of them told me, more or less politely, to get lost.
I was getting pretty hopeless about getting ANY information at all, and was philosophically reflecting on the fact that journalism helps you become very good at dealing with rejection.
I must have looked pretty cold and pitiful, because one passerby offered me his poncho even though I was wearing a rain jacket. I could not make sense of this, and stared at it dumbly, until he told me it was too small for him. I’m not sure how tall he was, but I can verify that it was way too small for him, because it was way too small for me. But I put it on, because I was cold, and continued my pathetic march up and down the street accosting potential scalpers with my new midriff-baring poncho.
And I prayed. I prayed, “Dear God, please let me find one friendly scalper in this veritable sea of cranky merchants.”
And I did! The first friendly scalper, who still could not tell me anything because his boss wouldn’t let him (this is a creepy, dark world, I tell you), told me about a man named D. I actually know his full name, but I don’t want to betray that sacred man’s trust after all the knowledge he gave me.
D had been doing this for 30 years, and he offered me his hand and welcomed me into the magical knowledge land of Scalper Central. He told me how much he can generally make, how many tickets he can sell, what the best games are to sell tickets, and even answered my questions TWICE when I asked him to repeat into my phone recorder, as I wasn’t sure the video audio would be good enough. (It wasn’t.) Cheerfully even! He clearly had had his pre-scalping snacks, because the rainy-day crankies were not affecting him.
I consider myself an apprentice scalper now. D didn’t say so, but I like to think I am his little padawan learner.
So here’s to D, to the high of getting the footage I needed, to the hot shower I stood in for 30 minutes afterward, for God’s provision in furnishing weird journalism connections, and to never having to talk to scalpers again. Huzzah!