The city of Chicago is full of bars, clubs, theaters, and other interesting ways to spend your time and money. A few months ago, I paid a stranger from craigslist $70 for this:
If you can’t tell, that’s a badly photocopied piece of paper wrapped up in Scotch tape. Seventy. Dollars. He told me they’re worth $100 though, so I got a good deal, right? Let me start at the beginning.
The Lakeshore Theater (LT) has a whole bunch of comedians and musicians perform, and the tickets can be anywhere from $10 to $40 per show. They have what’s called a Flexpass, which is six tickets for $100. It never expires, but you can only get two tickets per show, and it’s invalid for some shows. Obviously if you’re going to $10 or $15 shows it’s not worth it (you pay $16.67), but the guy on craigslist, Ben, was selling his unused pass for $70 ($11.67 per ticket), and most of the comedians I want to see are $20 anyway.
After emailing back and forth, and talking on the phone a bunch of times throughout the week, he said he’d stop by and make the exchange. However, there was a problem. I called LT and they said flexpasses are under the buyer’s name, so no one else can use them. I called Ben back and he said he thought they’d let us switch the name over, which he did after we got off the phone. Finally he arrived to sell it to me, and handed me the flexpass, as seen above (it does have a 3-digit number on it, however). You can imagine what I thought when I saw it. Ben was very nice and always seemed genuine, and if it had been a scam it would have been an awful lot of trouble for not much money.
He laughed about how crappy the card looked, and said I could call them to verify it. Ben read the LT phone number to me from his phone, but luckily I had their number on my phone already — a different number than what he read to me (box office vs. admin phone). I called the number I had, and they put me on hold and forgot about me. Ben said he always called the other number, and dialed it on his phone while we were waiting. He got through right away. This was a problem, because it was possible he was simply calling a friend of his pretending to be LT. I had already hung up and called them back again, and luckily got through as Ben was trying to hand me his phone. The woman verified Ben’s name, and my name, and I asked if this crappy piece of paper truly was what they were selling for $100…although I think I said it a little more tactfully than that. She laughed and said yes, but they have a record at the LT so I didn’t really even need the card if I remembered the number on it.
Fast forward back to the present, and I just saw Cinematic Titanic last night using the flexpass, and it was hilarious and everything I expected it to be. The movie they were riffing was Danger on Tiki Island, and the tickets sell for $40 each without a flexpass! Dave (Gruber) Allen opened the show, doing some standup and reading a list of sponsors, and then mocking them. He was hilarious. If he were performing by himself, I’d go in a heartbeat.
So I guess the moral is, sometimes, even the shadiest looking deals are real.