Confessions of an Accidental Ticket Scalper

Sophia Rosenblatt shares a story from the other side.

First things first, let me say I didn’t set out to be a ticket scalper. It was not a conscious choice, or an act of malice. It was entirely coincidental that the three times I’ve thrown money at ball tickets I’ve been whacked, boomerang-like, in the face by three times the cash. And a uni student who’s spent most of her savings on faux fur jackets and health food (smells weird and is probably rotten by now, in case you were wondering) wasn’t about to say no to that.

So let’s be polite, avoid the discriminatory term of ‘scalper’, and call me a ‘skilled opportunist’.

It all started with my finger pounding on the refresh button the second my anthropology tutorial ended. It was one of those moments where I probably should have stood up like a normal person, exited the room, and let the next class in, but purchasing tickets is the black hole of tunnel vision. Nothing matters but me, the button, and the Visa Debit option.

The two minutes of buying tickets are frenzied. It’s people cursing, dropping credit cards, and curling up in a ball when the word ‘unavailable’ flashes across the screen. But I have always had the rare skill of being lucky with a really random variety of things, so in my hands was a real-life St Andrews commodity: a Christmas Ball ticket.

Unfortunately, none of my friends shared this talent. There’s a degree of competitiveness and intensity that’s required for you that they  hadn’t quite achieved yet.

I was a little disappointed, but didn’t really care too much and put on the St Andrews class page that I was selling a ticket for Christmas Ball.

Pandemonium.

It was like my inbox had been electrified – friends, non-friends and strangers suddenly filled up my Facebook. People I had categorised as ‘archived messages’ came back with a fury. And all I could see was numbers, and prices, and offers. If I was a cartoon, dollar signs would have popped up in the place of my eyes. I’m not totally sure they didn’t.

It was pretty simple for me from then on – just a promise to the highest bidder, and a pat on the back for being able to feed myself for a couple of weekends to come.

I didn’t think it would happen again.

Welly Ball was not nearly as intense as Christmas. People really had the opportunity for at least twenty minutes to buy tickets. And as a decent human being, I had offered to buy a ticket for my friend, who would be in class, and would get my compensation later. But the moment I bought the second ticket, she told me her credit card info had gone through, and she bought her own.

And I was back for an accidental round two.

I really understand the issues with ticket scalping – I dislike capitalism just as much as anybody. But I’m a strong believer in serendipity, and this was nothing more than a by chance method of affording St Andrews for another day. It’s easy to criticise ticket scalpers; you think it’s unfair that they’re charging you for a ticket that should be one price. So instead think of it in an anthropological way: There’s always a price to labor, and what you’re really paying extra for is my tunnel vision at exactly one o’clock.

You’re paying for the mindless pressing of refresh, refresh, refresh.

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