Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ticket karma

I am a strong believer in karma - and when I send negative energy out into the world, I almost always regret it deeply within a few hours - though sometimes it takes me longer, I admit. But I try and send lots of positive karma out into the world and I do believe I live a mostly charmed life in return.

I have wanted to attend the White House egg roll for a long time. A big sticking point was that I needed a kid. Traditionally, folks in DC camp out overnight to get tickets to the event. I considered doing it last year, but Helen was only 9 months old, and being away for an entire night wasn't going to happen, as she wasn't sleeping through the night at that point. Ed was less than enthusiastic about the idea of camping out himself, and I wasn't sure Connor's arm would be good enough to accurately launch an egg at the President's head - just kidding (sort of), so I didn't attempt to get tix.

This year, my friend Vickie and I were planning on camping out. But our plans were foiled when the White House decided to release the tickets via the internet. The idea was that people from all over the country could attend the event, rather than the event being dominated by locals.

The ticket distributor was horrible. The system kept crashing, people would get in and then be kicked out at the last minute, it would look like tickets were available when they weren't, allotments of tickets were released randomly throughout the day so rather than just selling out in an hour, people had to keep checking back to see if maybe, maybe, another ticket became available. My stalwart father clicked and clicked all day for me.

I got very lucky. I got into the system pretty early, but when I tried to get 2 adult tickets and 4 kid tickets (so that I could go with Vickie and her two), the system said that there weren't that many tickets available. So I clicked the next lower number, and the next, and the next, and finally, I ended up with 1 adult ticket and 1 child ticket.

I was sad not to take Helen, even though I know she won't have any memory of the event.

But I was really psyched to be able to go with Connor.

As the event came closer, I posted messages everywhere I could think of about needing an extra ticket for the Group B time slot. I queried past event-goers to see if there were likely to be extra tickets available at the door. In response to a message I posted, another mom felt the need to write me back a message so nasty that other folks on the listserv chastised her. And I thought about writing a snarky note back to her, but kept myself from pushing "send" because I thought to myself that it's better to just absorb the negative energy than to send it back out into the world. In a final bout of desperation, I even called a former colleague of mine who is a member of Obama's cabinet and amazingly, he put his assistant on the trail for a ticket. When this happened, I called my sister and asked her "do you want to know how effin' cool I am? I am totally going to score a ticket for Helen" and my sister responded "If the economy crashes tomorrow, it's your fault and did I tell you I just got a blackberry", so there she was, in my moment of cool, being cooler than me, again.

Tickets were selling for hundreds of dollars. I was not willing to pay that. Conversely, I was not willing to sell for that. You see, I am convinced that if I scalp a ticket like this, I am doomed to never get a hot ticket again. At this point in my life, I have always been able to get a ticket for every event I've wanted to attend, at a fair price. This includes a sold out Ani DiFranco concert in Central Park where there were hundreds of young, hip people jumping around, dancing, and shouting for tickets, along with Ed and me who were in our work clothes (having left work in DC a few hours earlier and driven like crazy to get to NYC) and looking rather plain. We had just given up and were heading to the subway, when a couple of people who looked as out of place as we did asked "do you need tickets" and we promptly responded "yes", and unlike every other person whom we had previously had this discussion with, they told us the tickets were available for face value. And, it includes a sold out Neil Young show, where he added a second day - unannounced - and I happened to be checking back for tickets, and several others. L.U.C.K.Y.

Knowing that these things always work out, I kept my nose to the ground for a ticket, just in case the White House tickets didn't come through. And then I saw a message from another mom "I have a pass for two adults and two children, but I only have one child. Does anyone know if both adults will be let in, or will only one adult be allowed in with one child?"

I responded "I'm just begging here, but if that extra ticket for that child happens to be for Group B, I would love to have it. I have one adult ticket and one child ticket, but I'd like to bring my 17 month old daughter along as well. But, in answer to your question, I think you'll have no problem getting in with one fewer child than your pass indicates."

And do you know what she wrote back? "My extra child ticket is for the Group B time slot. Would you mind entering as a group of 6, with your one adult one child pass and my two adult and two children pass?"

And the deal was done. And notice, Helen took full advantage of the opportunity by running into the egg hunt, tossing her basket, and then throwing an egg to me. Rock on!

On Monday morning we met for the first time by the Washington Monument. We walked over to the ellipse together, and as it turns out, I totally could've snuck Helen in. The person who took my tickets didn't even ask for one for Helen or check that she had one. She just said "3 bracelets" and I said "yes!". The person I came with was next to me in the ticket line telling a different ticket taker there that Helen was entering on her ticket, but that ticket taker was also completely uninterested in this news.

I think attending the event might make me cooler than my sister. But I'm not calling her, because I do not want her to tell me she just got an iphone, or some other cool gizmo that will mean she's still cooler than me.

Many thanks to the kind mom who made it so I didn't have to worry about getting Helen in - and to Ellen for loaning me some beautiful tulip pants with matching shirt and jacket for Helen (I knew she'd have some super cute, super appropriate outfit in her stash). Unfortunately, it was pretty cool so I had to keep Helen's pink winter coat on as well.

At one point, Connor decided to lay down in the middle of the White House lawn. He reports that the grass there is very soft and very nice. Perhaps their gardener would like to come take a crack at my backyard, which has several holes in it that Helen has learned to maneuver around expertly, after falling in them a few times.

Helen waited to take her nap until we were about 1 block away from the White House. She probably didn't want to fall asleep at the event because she was busy pilfering everything she could get her hands on. Her booty includes some little plastic bead-like things that were used to make jumpropes; 3 crayons from the egg decorating area; and an attempt at several plastic eggs from the egg hunt area.

We didn't actually make it over to the egg roll. We got side-tracked in the crafting area. Had the kids not been exhausted at 11:45 when we were supposed to leave the grounds, I would've dashed over to the egg roll with them, but since they were tired, I decided we'd leave it for our next trip to the egg roll.

After this photo was snapped, we dashed out quickly. I was worried those cops had their eyes on Helen and I didn't want to take any chances that my baby would end up in Gitmo over a simple crayon misunderstanding.


  1. Ooh, I want to hear how that mom flamed you!

  2. That is awesome! Even if you never go back again, you'll be able to tell your kids about the time they had an Easter egg hunt at the White House! But what did the mean mom write about you on the message board??? (Can't imagine what would have made her angry about someone trying to get a ticket to an egg hunt!)

  3. Geez do folks get all tweeked on these message boards over the nuttiest things!

    So glad you all got to attend. These pictures will help create such terrific memories for them.

  4. First let me say... big sisters are ALWAYS cooler. I mean we had the later bedtime could drive before you, etc.

    But I have to admit I think the Egg Roll is a pretty neat deal. The pics were awesome.