Sunday, March 7, 2010

Coupon crime

There's really only one good thing about sports.

Thanks to the trend toward "brand everything everything everything and get all the advertising dollars you can," we, the fans, could look forward to a few perks along with all the intrusive promotions. A free t-shirt thrown by a skanky girl from the "dance" team. A coupon on the back of your ticket. A free trinket with a company name on it. And in the best games, a portion of the game that offered an incentive for the home team doing well.

For example, when the Rangers score in the eighth inning, everyone gets a coupon for a free taco at Taco Bueno. FREE TACO!

One time, I went to a Texas Rangers game with my Canadian friend, Darlana (the one in the shoe game video), and the usher man who was assigned to our section was a very friendly grandfatherly man who took great interest in the two of us, but more specifically, my ponytail. I'm not sure why he liked it so much, but he did. He talked about how he wanted to play with it (I know how weird that sounds, but really, he wasn't creepy).

So, the eighth inning rolled around, and as usual, they announced that it was the free taco inning. If the Rangers scored, I would be enjoying a free taco. Free! Taco! Does that excite anybody else? No? I know I'm not the only one out there motivated by food and great deals, people. Fess up.

Anyway, I cheered as only a true lover of free tacos could cheer. I participated in the wave. I prayed a little prayer. Did a rain dance. I wanted it. I needed it.

And you know what? They didn't deliver. I don't have to tell you what a letdown that was.

We started talking to our friendly usher man, asking him about the coupons that he had had ready but didn't hand out. What did they do with them? Would they miss them if, maybe, they ended up in the hands of a girl with a great ponytail?

"Oh, we have to return them right away if they don't score," he explained. "They even count them because they've had problems with the coupons being given out when they weren't supposed to be before."

Darlana leaned over to me.

"I'll be he would give you a free taco if you let him play with your hair," she joked.

I tilted my head and thought for a moment.

"Yeah," I replied thoughtfully, "I could be a hair whore for a free taco."

She laughed until she cried at that response, and to this day it is still one of her favorite memories of us together.

All this to say - I'm really serious about my sporting events. As you can see. At least, I'm really serious about the times when I'm personally going to benefit from how well they do.

In the third period of the minor-league hockey game we went to tonight, they announced that if our team scored a goal in the first minute of the third period, our tickets would get us 50% off our Saxby's Coffee purchase.

I perked up at this. Like, a lot. Because not only do I love a good deal as motivation to actually pay attention to a game, we have begun a rather passionate love affair with Saxby's. After almost every date, we treat ourselves to a cup of coffee (used to be at Starbucks), and then get to sit and talk. Since we discovered Saxby's, we haven't wanted to go anywhere else. They have a Snickers Latte. And a Milky Way one. And oh my cow, almost any other candy bar you can think of. It's 800 calories of pure love.

Jack was skeptical about our ability to obtain this discount.

"Only the first minute?" he challenged. "We're not going to make that."

But I had hope. I knew we could do it. And as soon as the play began, I cheered as I never cheered before. I watched with suspense as the puck as it passed from player to player, and all of the sudden a member of our team had it and was gliding down the ice. In one graceful motion, he brought his stick back, aimed, and took his shot. We held our breath as we watched the puck slide across the ice... right into the goal.

The entire stadium lit up, sirens went off, and Jack and I both screamed and shot our hands into the air, then embraced. WE DID IT! In the first thirty seconds, no less! We would only pay half price for our coffee! It was exhilarating.

I spent the rest of the game cheerfully visiting with Jack and our friends. At one point I looked up and saw that they had forgotten to put our point up on the board, but well, it was the minors. The audio had also been off the whole time.

All of the sudden, we heard the announcer declare that we were going in to overtime.

Jack and I looked at each other, confused. Overtime? But, our team just got its second point in the Saxby's period! It was 2 to 1!

I googled Saxby's phone number and called them, causing Jack to put his head in his hands and stiffle a laugh. I thought it perfectly reasonable to call them. If anybody would know if we got 50% off our coffee tonight, it would be them. A perky girl answered the phone.

"Hi, I'm sitting at the hockey game, and they scored a goal during the Saxby's period, but now they're in overtime and I'm confused and scared," I blurted out all at once.

"Yeah," she said "we got a call from them saying they got it, and then we got another call later saying they didn't get it after all."

"But... I was so excited about it," I said. She laughed, not really sure what to say next to the crazy hockey lady on the phone.

"I'm really sorry," she said.

Jack spent the next thirty minutes laughing at me even though I know he knew I was distraught over my loss. I was in pain. I was grieving.

But he kept telling all of our friends that I was upset because I didn't get my coupon. And they all looked at me like that was an over-reaction, and I was all "What? WE SCORED A GOAL. IT'S ONLY RIGHT."

And despite my incredibly logical arguments, Jack refused to take me seriously when I told him that it was a moral issue, and I really felt like I should write a letter to someone about this egregious situation they had put us in. Quite frankly, I'm shocked that the crowds weren't rioting.

Opening the door to my car, he asked me if I still wanted to go get coffee.

"Sure," I looked back at him with a little smile. "Let's go to Starbucks."
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