What happens when I can’t afford a Mets ticket

How appropriate that a giant metal thing symbolizes my home burough

How appropriate that a giant metal thing symbolizes my home borough.

Attending a midweek afternoon baseball game is the height of unemployment decadence. I developed a taste for it after my 2008 layoff. Shea Stadium – the New York Mets‘ old home field – was only a few subway stops from my apartment. And an upper reserve seat behind home plate could be had for $5-$10 at game time. I would sit out in the sun with some peanuts and my iPod, watching millionaires run around. No one would bother me, or even sit next to me. Life was good for a few hours.

I realized yesterday that the Mets would be hosting the Atlanta Braves today, start time… 1:10. My secretary cleared my schedule; today became a day off. In other words, the responsible part of my brain yielded the captain’s chair to the slacker part. Warp speed ahead.

I rolled up to Citi Field (Federal Government Field?) about game time with tax dollars in my pocket. The sun glistened off the brand new stadium. The sidewalks were clean, particularly for Queens. The crowd outside was sparse, as expected; it was a Wednesday afternoon in May. As it turned out, everyone was stuck in one of the many 30-deep box office lines. I made it to the window eventually and asked the weary old lady behind the glass, “how much for the cheapest single ticket available?” She responded, “$92” – the exact amount Carlos Beltran earned in the time it took to read that sentence. All the cheaper seats were gone. I thanked her and turned away, mumbling something about how the new national pastime must be to f**k the little guy. Scalpers were nowhere to be found. On my way back toward the train, a Mets cheer went up from the crowd, followed by the faint clinking of champagne flutes and the wafting scent of escargot. I think they maybe played some baseball at some point too. But I can’t be sure.

It was too nice of a day to just go home. Besides, what kind of unemployed slacker bails on playing hooky? That would just be pathetic, an embarrassment to hardworking unemployed people everywhere. I wandered over to Flushing Meadows Park on the other side of the tracks. For those of you non-New Yorkers and outer borough-challenged Manhattanites, this is like Central Park for Queens, with litter replacing the flowers and ducks.

Multiple paths diverge from the entrance. I took the middle one (and that made no difference). It arced past a putting green and some public tennis courts, where a wheelchair-bound guy held his own, and through a sea of soccer fields. A few games were going on, one of them particularly contested. People in these parts love their soccer. Whenever roving bands of cheering men and their musical car horns take over the streets below our window, my wife and I just assume Colombia beat Peru or Ecuador or some other such national team. Past the soccer fields, the park opens up into a series empty fountains and unkempt gardens and then becomes a lake.

I turned and headed up toward the Unisphere, built for the 1964-1965 World’s Fair to celebrate the beginning of the space age or the putting pictures of big stuff on crap to sell at gift shops age. I forget which. Some teenagers skateboarded in the empty fountain at its base, recording their tricks on video. A young kid rode his bike, trailed by his parents. No one else was around.

I strolled over to the Queens Museum of Art, on the far side of the Unisphere. The scale panorama of New York City and other exhibits could be seen for a $5 “suggested donation.” A friend of mine once paid his entrance to the Metropolitan with a button, but $5 seemed a fair enough price. I wandered through the panorama, looking for my current and previous New York apartments and various lesser landmarks, like the Statue of Liberty. Much of the museum was closed off to change exhibits, and deserted besides. I maybe saw 15 people, including staff, in an hour there.

Afterward, I proceeded up past the US Open tennis courts and across a field interspersed with trees and bushes. People slept in the shade. Some kids walked home from school. I thought about camping out on a bench to read or take a nap, and then decided against both. There’s no need to do it all at once. I have to space things out, ration myself. Unemployment might last awhile, judging by the last six months. I need all the slacking activities I can get, especially since weekday afternoon baseball games are no longer an option.

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7 Comments

  1. amanda wrote:

    Nice Frost reference. We’ll go back to the park together this summer and I’ll beat you at mini golf.

    Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 10:53 am | Permalink
  2. Jay wrote:

    $92? Seriously? Man, I was living vicariously through you too.

    Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 11:10 am | Permalink
  3. Leroy wrote:

    Try stubhub, you could get those same seats for $8. Its cheaper than your Jackson Heights coffee shop, what a ripoff that place is.

    Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 3:12 pm | Permalink
  4. Matt Howland wrote:

    $92?!? That is crazy. I guess they have to pay for the new stadium somehow.

    I thought it was bad when I paid $90ea for middle tier Yankees tickets last year.

    Matt
    http://jobbala.com

    Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 4:01 pm | Permalink
  5. SUPL Blog wrote:

    I spent some unemployed time wandering around NYC too – it’s nice, and if you can’t pay $92 for a stupid ticket, you might as well spend the money eating your way through the city.

    Friday, May 15, 2009 at 7:22 pm | Permalink
  6. Cara wrote:

    Put an e-mail out to all your employed friends asking them to keep an eye out for free company seats. Tickets to midweek afternoon games are usually available, and you can scalp extra ones for a Shake Shack feast. I did that a few weeks ago and as a bonus got a nice little tan.

    Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 11:30 am | Permalink
  7. Norm wrote:

    That’s such a great idea. I wish I had thought of it a day or too before.

    Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 2:38 am | Permalink

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