I am a firm believer in karma. Whether it's the golden rule of treating others the way you would have them treat you, or the thought that all positive energy you exude returns to you, I think that stuff works. And having traveled to DC without official tickets for the Inauguration, I was holding out hope that karma made its way into my travel bag.
I had already been on a pretty good roll after lucking into a hotel just 2 miles from the National Mall one week before I was to leave. That roll seemed to still be intact after arriving in DC as well. How else do you explain crashing the HBO party? But how long could it last? And more importantly, would it eventually lead to a coveted inauguration ticket?
After writing countless senators and congressmen without any success, I was still determined to be one of the 240,000 people fortunate enough to receive an actual ticket for the Inauguration. Even if I had to stand, I just wanted to be as close as possible to the swearing-in.
A few days before leaving LA, a friend of mine, who had been involved in Barack Obama's campaign in the very beginning, told me to e-mail a guy who might have access to some tickets. I was also given strict orders not to divulge the name of my friend. Not the best way to make contact with a complete stranger in an attempt to ask for a monumental request, but I had nothing to lose.
The first response, albeit almost immediate, did not give me much hope. It was extremely last-minute and millions of people had requested tickets since election day. But he did say to check back with him the next morning just in case some tickets became available. Although not likely, hope was still alive.
The next morning, I e-mailed my "ticket guy" as he had informed me to do. More than anything, I really wanted to thank him for even considering the request on such short notice. This time, however, I did not get an immediate response. In fact, I didn't think I would receive a response at all as a couple of hours turned into several. But right before going to bed Saturday night in preparation for my early flight Sunday morning, I received an e-mail from ticket guy saying that he SHOULD have some tickets for me, but to e-mail him again once I arrived in DC. Hope is just not alive, it's walking around the room with swagger.
As you might imagine, my first order of business after checking into the hotel was to fire up my laptop and shoot off a quick e-mail to ticket guy. But again, no response. Was my karma running on fumes? Had hope been replaced at the last minute by despair? The answer would come in the morning.
Having not set an alarm and still adjusting to the time zone changes, I slept a little later than I intended. I wanted to be at that computer first thing in the morning to see if hope prevailed.
It was similar to the feeling of anticipation on Christmas morning when we were kids. The real anticipation is not whether you received something, but rather if you received what you really wanted. I was fully expecting some type of e-mail response at this point, but would it say what I wanted it to say?
I'll let you read for yourself.
I’ve been busy at events and apologize for the delay. I will have tickets for you tomorrow. You should pick up at the convention center.
YES!! THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT!! I GOT TICKETS TO THE INAUGURATION!! HELL YEAH!!
Obviously, I was rather excited. It was truly special to be one of the few (relatively speaking) to receive official inauguration tickets. But getting them at the last-minute from a person I had never met in my life made it even more amazing.
Now, the trick was to hide my excitement, as I wanted to surprise Crystal with the tickets. I've always been that guy. Hold out on some great news, only to spring it on somebody at the last-minute. I'm a sucker for spontaneous responses from my friends.
I told her we were going to the convention center to meet a friend of mine. And from there, we would walk down to the mall to get a look at the scene the day before the madness. She had never been to DC, so she was more concerned about seeing the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial than she was about the pit stop at the convention center.
Trying to figure out where exactly I was supposed to pick up the tickets at the convention center was not that easy. The building is massive in scope. Plus there were no visible signs saying anything about the inauguration or tickets. But once again, this is where my buddy karma comes into play.
I spotted a guy who looked like he might know where he's going. And indeed, he did. He, too, was going to pick up tickets and told us to follow him. After finding a door guarded by a security person, our escort flashed some badge and told the guard we were with him. Score!
Although I didn't realize it at the time, the biggest obstacle in securing these tickets was finding my ticket guy in the throngs of people at the convention center. To say the place was teeming with activity would be an understatement. In addition to being the distribution hub for inauguration, parade and ball tickets, the convention center was also hosting 6 balls on inauguration evening. Let's just say it was a little hectic.
While waiting in line to see about finding my tickets, I heard the lady behind me on the phone talking about my ticket guy. She was looking for him too. Her name was Agape, the sister of Arianna Huffington. The Huffington Post was having a big party later that evening, and for a moment, I considered asking her for some tickets to the party. But I was more concerned about inauguration tickets and didn't want to use up all my remaining karma on another party.
After finally reaching a volunteer table to see if the tickets were being held under my name, I find out that they are not!
What? You mean I came all the way over here and there's no tickets for me? I couldn't believe it.
But as I was discussing this with another volunteer, I once again heard the familiar voice of Agape. She was on the phone with the ticket guy trying to locate him. When I finally spotted her, she was actually hugging the ticket guy. She now had her tickets. But where were mine?
I left the volunteer in mid-sentence as I jogged towards the ticket guy. He was just about to disappear from sight. I couldn't come this close only to lose him.
Just before he ducked behind a tall, blue curtain I shouted his name. He heard me. He stopped and turned around.
I said, "Hi, I'm Michael Eaves. From Fox Sports Net in LA. We exchanged some e-mails about inauguration tickets?"
He replied, "Oh yeah. Hold on one second."
He disappears behind the curtain only to reappear a few seconds later. Not only does my ticket guy have two tickets on the Capitol grounds for me, but he also has two parade tickets. My karma didn't just come through. It doubled up!
I wanted to hug ticket guy, but instead I gave him a very affectionate handshake and told him to contact me if I can ever return the favor. Not fully certain that I could ever match such a hookup, but I would definitely be determined to try.
When I made it back to the volunteer table, Crystal was sitting there waiting for me. I'm not really sure if she had figured everything out at this point. Did she think I really had tickets or was I trying to talk my way into some? But once, she saw the envelope in my hand, I could sense her excitement, although she was obviously trying to hold it together. But that could only last so long.
Once we exited the doors, and I showed her those beautiful inauguration tickets, we proceeded to sing, "We going to the Inauguration! We going to the Inauguration!" as we made our way out of the convention center.
I'm sure the song was off key and our harmony was horrible, but it was music to our ears!