Yesterday, Travelpro asked me if I wanted to take an impromptu road trip with herself and her fiance, whom I'll dub Music Man. It seemed that Travelpro's grandmother had purchased tickets to a concert for a new-ish country singer, but had gotten sick and couldn't go. The concert was at a tribal casino a few hours away, near a body of water and a cute tourist town.
She offered the tickets to Travelpro, and knowing that she is but a lowly underpaid retail slave, also offered to pay for her gas and give them $100 for dinner. It was meant as a date night kind of thing, but Travelpro is aware that I've become slightly anti-social of late, and asked if I wanted to come hang out with them in Tourist Town to play in the water. We could hang out, and I would only have to amuse myself for the hour and a half during the concert. I agreed, and off we went.
Things were going well. We only had to spring for Taco Hell and a bottle of sunblock for this adventure. The day was nice, and the water not terribly cold. We took some Facebook-worthy photos and saw some cool nature stuff. At 6:30 we left for the casino, where they changed into nicer clothes and we headed upstairs to the restaurant/lounge to grab some food before the concert. We found out then why her grandmother had sent a whopping $100 for dinner for 2: the prices were not cheap. Travelpro suggested that we each get something less expensive so that they could cover me as well. It was 7:30 by this point, and the waitress let us know that dinner could not be made and served by 8:00, but suggested that we get an apps combo, which meant that we could each order the app we wanted, but it would only be $25. She assured us that the apps would be ready before showtime.
This was kind-of sort-of true: the food was okay, but arrived with only 5 minutes or so to spare. Travelpro and Music Man gulped their apps and booked it downstairs to their concert, leaving me to leisurely finish my food and pay and tip the waitress out of that stash.
While they were gone, I wandered around, and discovered that I find gambling to be boring. Down by $2 I sat out the remaining few minutes of the concert near the doors. When the doors opened, and Travelpro and MM finally reappeared, Travelpro was limping in that way that says "God, I wish I had my cane."
Through shitty luck, health issues and accidents, Travelpro has ended up with bum knees, a wrecked back, and a foot problem. Anybody with these problems will tell you that there are days that you can make do, and days when you just want to die. I have a similar back problem, and I know how it goes. After a day of exploring Tourist Town and Water Feature, her foot was giving her trouble. What she needed was to sit down and watch a concert. That isn't what she got.
Entering the concert area at exactly 8:00, she and Music Man discovered that their seats had been sold to an elderly couple. When she relayed this later, I thought she meant that the concert had been overbooked, like a flight. Nope. Said elderly couple had approached the box office that day and asked if any more tickets were available for the concert. They were then mistakenly sold tickets for the previous night's concert by the same singer. Arriving 15 minutes before Travelpro and Music Man, they took the seats. Ushers assured the four that they would find another pair of seats for whoever was displaced, and Travelpro's automatic Customer Service persona kicked in.
"Oh no, ma'am. It's quite alright. We'll go ahead and take the other seats. You stay there." I think some of it came from Travelpro playing Customer Service when she didn't need to, and her need to prove to older generations that the younger generation does indeed possess the ability to be polite and respectful.
The problem was, the concert people weren't able to locate more seats until halfway through the show. Travelpro and Music Man stood for 45 minutes off to the side, waiting for seats that had been paid for weeks earlier. The apologetic security guard wasn't able to offer the one thing that Travelpro desperately needed: an ice pack for her now-throbbing and swollen knee.
When another set of seats was found for them (not that far from the first seats), there was another issue. The concert area was a bingo auditorium, with a proper stage. There were long skinny tables that seated 3 on each side, laid perpendicular to the stage, and fanned out in a half-circle. While they were sitting closer to the stage, the seats were facing slightly away from it, so that Travelpro spent the next 45 minutes twisted in a funny position, trying to watch the concert.
She explained all of this to me after the concert (which was pretty good despite their seating problems and her messed-up knees), and we took the escalator back up to the restaurant/lounge area to watch the post-concert fireworks (while sitting in chairs). For about 15 minutes, Travelpro fretted to me over the situation.
"Should I complain? Does that make me a crusty? I feel really lousy right now, and it totally sucks that they sold our seats."
Travelpro and I have quite a few years of customer service racked up between us, and we hate being "that" customer, so if we feel like we didn't get a good experience somewhere, there had better be a damn good reason for us to complain. I told her that I thought part of being a crusty is the attitude of entitlement, and that crusties don't think they're being crusties, so by worrying that she might be, she wasn't.
We made our way back downstairs, hoping to at least get an ice pack, and explained to the woman at customer service what had happened. Helpful, the customer service lady, procured Travelpro a chair and an ice pack, and hunted down the manager on duty. Helpful was awesome and sympathetic. The manager was less so. After hearing the story, she kind of gave Travelpro the polite version of "Well, what do you want me to do about it?"
It was a rookie mistake. Travelpro had walked into the complaint department without thinking about what outcome she wanted. Certainly part of it was "please make sure people double-check the dates on tickets before selling them," but what is the exchange rate on "you sold my seats, causing me to stand for 45 minutes on a bum knee"? Store credit?
We had noticed that Cool Classic Rock Band would be playing there in the fall, could she get credit towards tickets on that? Manager said no. They could refund the tickets, but it could only go back onto the card they were purchased with. We understood. That's part and parcel for refunds. Manager offered to comp us breakfast at the buffet in the morning, but we told her that we were leaving to go back home that night.
"Um, Travelpro... how are we getting home?"
In our infinite wisdom, we had come to the casino in Travelpro's manual car... a car that neither I nor MM could drive, and which she couldn't operate with a swollen knee.
"I'm sorry," she said. "I know we have plans tomorrow, but I can't walk around on this knee for at least an hour. I need some pain killers and some time or something."
The manager suggested dinner at the snack bar, and we guessed later that she had a limit on how much she could comp guests. The breakfast buffet was probably $10, but dinner buffet was $20. We were hungry, having only eaten apps. She gave us a $30 snack bar comp, and we helped Travelpro hobble over there so we could eat chicken strips while her knee soaked up that ice pack for an hour or so.
On our way home after midnight, we reflected back on the day: fun at the water feature, a decent concert that was gifted to them, a refund for her grandmother, gas money, dinner for free. And because none of us is gamblers, we ended up with $60 or so left over from the dinner that never was. We had a nice day at the cost of Travelpro using her cane again.
Bonus question: So the apps we ordered were $25, and the sodas we got were $4.50, bringing our total to just under $30. The waitress gave me 2 fives so I used one of them to tip her, which was just under 18%. (I was estimating, and I suck at math, so I was hoping it was around the right amount. Oops.) The thing was, those sodas came from the bar, and my question is: should I have left one tip on the apps, and then tipped a dollar each on the sodas? I feel like it would have been more clear had the restaurant/ lounge not occupied the same analogous space. I probably didn't do it right, but it would be good to know the next time I'm in that kind of situation.
May your concert tickets never be sold to an elderly couple,