Finding the Best & Worst In Humanity with Justin Timberlake


"There's nothing wrong with shooting for the stars." Justin Timberlake

I was in New York recently (with a loitering Dan Rather) and I learned people in general, and New Yorkers in particular, are just as bad and as wonderful as you might imagine.

My story starts at dinner with some of my former A&E colleagues.

A couple of us were grabbing a bite after work when the group morphed into a pack.  Soon I was in the middle of “old times” with a crowd of people I love.  However, at the end of dinner four people from our gang peeled off to catch Justin Timberlake at Madison Square Garden.

Fun for them – less fun for those of us left behind.

There was serious buzz around JT’s show in Atlanta, so I thought those of us who were ticketless at dinner should go over and try and get seats. No one jumped at the idea.  Something about the face value of the tickets starting at $200, and we would never find open seats, and blah, blah, blah...

“Come on!”I begged, “We can probably get tickets for $50.  Maybe we could even get them for free!”

At this point people were either laughing at me or politely nodding their heads (while thinking I’m nuts). Still, I had nothing else going on and $50 in my pocket, so I went over to the garden.

Sure enough, there were very few hawkers with tickets and those who had them wouldn’t let them loose for less than $300. When I offered $50, universally they laughed and stormed off.  Some even called me “crazy.” (or worse)

I changed tactics and went to the “box” entrance asking corporate types if there were extra seats there.


Finally, a well-dressed business-looking guy came up and offered me a ticket for $200.  I explained I was only willing to spend $50, and, like everyone else, he laughed.

“I paid $200 for these tickets for my daughter and her friend, and the friend just bailed.  I’d rather not lose the money.  How about $100?”

I explained that I wasn’t negotiating for a better price.  I was only spending $50.  Back and forth we went.  He kept lowering his price and I wasn’t moving.

Something about the exchange gave me pause – maybe it was the details of the story, or the fact that he was actually talking to me about my $50 when no one else would, but I challenged him.

“How do I know this is a valid ticket?”

He rolled his eyes and then pointed out the markers as to why it was legit.

“Fine.  I have $50.”

He took the money and away I went. I cleared security, walked up to the ticket taker, and he scanned my paper.

Unfortunately, the scanner gun buzzed an ugly sound and a giant red X appeared on the display. He tried again, and again the sound and X appeared.

“Hmmm,”he said “there must be a problem with the bar code.  Go back to Will Call and see if they can help you.”

At this point, I knew the truth; Mr. My Daughter’s Friend Bailed & I Don’t Want To Waste A Ticket was a big fat liar.

I went to Will Call and slid the ticket to the agent. He scanned and the obnoxious X appeared again.

Where did you get this ticket, m’am?”

Aside - When New Yorkers say m’am, it’s not in the Southern polite way, it’s more in the accusatory Joe Friday, “just the facts m’am” kind of way. This guy was calling me out.

I hesitated, not wanting to admit my idiocy,

“from a guy out front” I finally mumbled.

He peered over his glasses, “Yeah…I’ve seen a couple of these tonight.  Tell me you didn’t give the guy any money.” 

At this point, I didn’t want to say anything.  I just couldn’t. Instead I stuck out my lower lip and nodded yes to the implied, “are you an idiot?” question.

Yes. I paid money. I knew the ticket was bad. If I had listened to my gut, I knew this seller wasn’t legit.  I even said it! Still, I took the bait! Grrrrr.

As this was flying through my head and showing itself in my sad face, the guy at Will Call put up his index finger and said,

“Wait here.”

He disappeared for a minute and came back with my fake ticket and a new, legitimate ticket and said,

“Enjoy the show!”

What. In. The. World.

Petty theft followed by unmerited generosity.

Was that whiplash I felt?  No. It was grace.

Wonderful. Amazing. Grace.

I liked the show, but I love the story!!

Post Script: My ticket ended up being only two rows behind my friends, so I didn't even have to watch the show solo!  Woot!