This is a post I made about a month ago but hesitated to post because it seemed too much like a personal vendetta to publish it. However, I think it does a decent job of giving a real-world example of how capitalism is inherently unfair and makes life more difficult for the average person, and after I’ve given it some time, I still feel as though I (and hundreds of others) were victims of fraud at the hands of The Tacoma Dome and their parking situation.
I went to see Lady Gaga Saturday night at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington and felt that my experiences with their parking was worthy of a rambling, pissed-off blog post. (My first thought was to make an all-caps Facebook post.)
The show started at 8:00 according to the ticket. My friend and I arrived at the Tacoma Dome exit around 7:30. We then waited in a single file, poorly marked line for nearly two hours for a parking space. Cars frequently passed us, and we theorized that all of them were cutting in front of us. Finally, just before 9:30 we finally realized we weren’t going to make the show, so we decided to pull out of line and either park somewhere far away and take a cab (I didn’t stop to think that getting a cab would have been impossible), or, I was thinking I could just abandon my car and pay the impound fee later.
We pulled out and saw the line of cars behind us, disappearing into a point on the horizon. We drove forward, passing maybe 50 to 100 cars and arrived at the front of the line. At this point we we were so fed up, we decided to turn around and sneak into the front of the line. I know that’s a dick move, but sometimes you get to a point where you just can’t take it any more.
So we made a u-turn, right in front of the traffic police. Naturally they didn’t say anything to us and just let us through. We pulled into the parking garage and the attendant came to my window and said, “Ten dollars, and do not tell me you don’t have cash.”
Fortunately I did have cash, and I payed her without argument, though I wanted to scream at her about the ethics of charging ten bucks for event parking when you’ve already forced everyone to miss the majority of the show. The fact that she said, “do not tell me you don’t have cash,” implies that she went through that kind of ordeal with other drivers. Every car that pulled in spent probably an average of a minute talking to the attendant, and if not for that, no doubt we would have gotten inside in a much more timely fashion.
We parked, then ran several blocks to the stadium. Lady Gaga had already played nearly half her set, and obviously the opening band was long gone (some band called Semi-Precious Weapons that I was actually excited to see). We were able to find the row where our seats were supposed to be, but we looked through the darkness and saw that our seats had been taken. (To be honest, we didn’t realize that they were bench seats, rather than individual seats, because it was so dark and crowded at this point there was no way to see details like that.)
We went back down to talk to an usher, who refues to help, immediately accusing me of lying to her as though I was trying to avoid going to my seat. So my friend and I decided to simply stand at the front railing with all the other people who weren’t able to get to their seats. After ten minutes someone from seats behind us came down and started screaming at us (you can’t really communicate when Lady Gaga’s in the background unless you’re screaming) because we were blocking their view. We tried to apologize and explain there was nothing we could do, but ultimately we refused to move because there was simply no where else we could watch the show.
So they went and complained to management about us. The usher’s supervisor came to yell at us, and I wound up yelling back, asking him to help us get to our seats. He refused to help, so my friend and I refused to move from the railing. Finally, he agreed to assist and brought us up to our row and was able to get the attention of the others to let us in. We finally made it to our seats a little after 10:00 PM, just in time to see the last third of Lady Gaga’s set.
Getting out of the parking garage was not as difficult. It only took an hour before we started moving, which realistically is pretty reasonable.
(This is kind of unrelated, but on the way out, the police were directing traffic, but for some reason were not making much effort to make their signals understandable. When they waved us through it seemed more like someone jingling their keys by their side than someone actually trying to communicate, so I could never tell if they were waving us through or their hands were simply unsteady.
Now this personally bothers me because my greatest phobia is being beaten by a police officer, and last year someone was leaving a Seattle Mariner’s game and misunderstood a traffic cop’s signals. As he drove through the intersection the cop took out his flashlight and smashed the man in the face, giving him a concussion. The Seattle police settled with the man for, I believe $70,000, but the police department made a statement that the officer had acted reasonably.)
The main issue for me is that all of this was based on money. If the promoters hadn’t felt the need to rake in every last dollar they could, they wouldn’t have over-sold the show. They could have sent out emails telling everyone that they didn’t have parking capacity, but that would have discouraged some people from coming. They could have stopped charging for parking to allow everyone to see the show, but they knew that Ticketmaster would not be refunding our money, so they didn’t care if they caused hundreds of people to miss a show that cost $100 per ticket. Basically, it’s all about profit and nothing about serving the community. As an anarchist, I believe the opposite. Community should come first; profit second.
Hmmm… so at $100 per ticket, at 20,000 fans, the concert promoters brought in 2 million dollars for that show.
During the show, Lady Gaga said something about how Hollywood and the media build up pop stars to be larger than life, which in turn allows those stars to treat their fans like shit. I personally can’t blame Lady Gaga for this mess because I doubt she even knew about the parking problems, but I found her statement quite fitting.
Then, the next day, I found this article: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2010/08/21/1309803/no-repeat-of-junes-parking-traffic.html, which basically makes the claim that parking was not an issue at the show at all. I can’t help thinking that was a deliberate lie.
I asked for my money back, just to see what they’d say. Naturally both TicketMaster and The Tacoma Dome officials refused, but the answer from the Tacoma Dome blew me away as their letter was filled with more lies, specifically, the lie that all other stadiums have the same kind of parking issues, as though I’d never been to a sold-out stadium concert before.
What I don’t understand is why the general population thinks that this kind of financial manipulation and deceit is more acceptable than a normal thief who steals in a more direct and honest manner and has more need for what he’s stealing. For me, this experience was more hurtful than any of the three times my home has been broken into.