Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Efficiency is Our Number 1 Goal

That's a saying most Ecuadorians have probably never heard. It seems as though in most scenarios the opposite effect is desired. Getting tickets to the Boca Juniors game for tomorrow night proved to be almost as difficult as going to the bank here. Yeah, it's that bad.

Because the game is highly anticipated and a big draw, it was necessary to buy our tickets in advance, so about a week and a half ago I went down to the stadium when they went on sale to buy them. I got general admission tickets, which were hiked up to $15 but also included a second game later on. However, I wasn't given any tickets, but rather a receipt, and told to return yesterday to pick up the tickets. You might be wondering right now why they couldn't just give me the tickets, and I'd agree in questioning it. But oh well, I thought.

I was told that the ticket office would open at 9 am, so I arrived to the stadium around 10 am, diverting my morning run route in that direction. I was told that the tickets wouldn't be given out until 3 pm. Again, things run so smoothly that I couldn't really get mad, just had to go with the flow.

So after my class got out I returned to the stadium, about 10 minutes after 3, only to find a line that would suggest tickets for Metallica, circa '92, were on sale. I got to the back of the line as quickly as I could and just in time too. Soon the line stretched around the entire stadium. As we waited in a line that moved no where, there were also two ticket booths open on the side. Yet these booths were not accepting receipts for tickets. Instead, they were just selling tickets straight up.

This meant that everyone who had the foresight to buy their tickets in advance were in effect being punished for purchasing tickets earlier. We had to wait in a long line that went no where while people without tickets just showed up, got their tickets, and left without a minute's delay. It was a bit of a slap in the face, but again, not surprising considering how well things run down here.

Little by little the line inched forward toward the main ticket office, and after a glance at my watch I saw that I'd been standing there for 45 minutes, even after I'd already purchased the tickets. But at least it wasn't raining, I thought. Somehow, I dodged a real bullet on that one. Just when the door seemed so close, morons started showing up and cutting the line, and unfortunately no one was saying anything. But without their words, the people in line sort of formed a solid line against anyone trying to get in, causing the tight entrance and exit of the door to be a dangerous hole to poke through.

At last, I was finally inside the door and I could see just how efficient the staff was. 7 people were frantically working on the only window to get one person's tickets at a time. The person would hand off their receipt, someone would scream their name, someone else would look it up in a binder with thousands of names, a few other people just sat around looking up things in binders, and someone else would pull out tickets to hand off. The best part is that these were unassigned tickets, just general admission. So really, any ticket would do just fine.

Even as I handed off my proof of purchase, three or four people went past me as I waited for them to find my name. For all of the high tech security to get our right tickets, they didn't even ask for ID to prove that it was me. Genius. Getting out of the door was another adventure, seemingly having to shove people out of the way when they wouldn't go. In one word: ass-backwards.

You take a simple enough thing like buying tickets to a soccer game and make it as complicated as possible. Honestly, I wasn't even mad. It was too funny and sad to get angered. It seemed to me like someone put a bunch of children in charge of the operation. Because there's no way a grown adult could think that's an efficient way of running things. Sadly, they aren't children, and this is the norm.

Walking home as the rain was starting to pick up again, I was glad I wasn't in the line anymore. I chuckled to myself thinking of what a ridiculous process it was, and then had another thought. As bad as it was, it probably still beats Ticketmaster's 100% surcharge.

No comments: