Doubling Down on Taylor Swift
OK, so I spent all day Tuesday — and I mean ALL day Tuesday — online trying to get Taylor Swift tickets for our daughter, Katie. She is graduating high school this year, and I’m fairly certain that her first word was MAMA and her second word was DADA and her third word was OH MY GOSH I WANT TO SEE TAYLOR SWIFT IN CONCERT OH MY GOSH IS THERE ANY WAY OH MY GOSH!
That’s her on the right — if you are a parent of a daughter (or two or more) born since 2001 or so, you probably have any number of these photos in your camera roll. This was from 11 years ago; Katie had just turned 6. Taylor Swift was already her everything.*
*You will notice the rather indifferent look on the face of her older sister, Elizabeth, who has spent the vast majority of her 21 years on this earth insisting that she doesn’t like Taylor Swift while she secretly likes Taylor Swift. It never stops being amusing.
I’ve written about Katie here from time to time, though I’ve never quite known how to explain her. She is — well, let me tell you very quickly about her tennis career, because it probably explains her as well as anything else.
Katie played on her middle-school tennis team when she was in the seventh grade … and she only made the team because they didn’t have any cuts that year. She knew this; self-awareness has always been a big thing with Katie. But she loved being on the team even if she was 12th of 12. She was tiny then but she hustled like crazy when they let her play in exhibitions.
She tried out again in the eighth grade … but there was a new coach that year and that coach decided for some reason that there needed to be cuts. And Katie was the first cut.
She was pretty devastated by that. I suppose another kid would take that as a strong hint that tennis wasn’t for them and maybe pick another sport or focus on other activities. Katie did run track and perform in the school play and sing in the chorus. But she decided to double down on tennis. That’s just how her mind works. I wish I could tell you my wife and I had something to do with it, but that has just always been her way. She always doubles down — homework, projects, friends issues, whatever.
So she spent all year working on her tennis game at our community center. Over the summer, she worked with a tennis coach in our neighborhood. She switched to a two-handed forehand so that she could develop a bit more power from that side.
Then she tried out for the high school team in the ninth grade.
And she got cut again.
This time, she was all but inconsolable. It was like: They count me out time and time again. On the way home, she could not stop crying and so I, being the sportswriting dad, told her the story of how Michael Jordan got cut from his high school basketball team, and she didn’t believe me, and I am beginning to realize that this is sounding more and more like an old ABC Afterschool Special, but that’s exactly how it went. I told her that the future was up to her. If she wanted to stick with tennis, we’d support her. If she wanted to try something else, we’d support her.
And she made a perfectly Katie decision. She decided she was going to play tennis six days a week in addition to everything else she did. And that’s just what she did. She worked with a coach every single day, two hours, three hours, nonstop.
As a sophomore, she was No. 1 on the junior varsity team.
As a junior, she started the year No. 1 on the varsity and made all-conference.
As a senior she was a team co-captain and, well, she just finished her senior year and her singles record was something like 19-2.
That’s a braggy dad thing, I realize, but I’m just telling you that’s Katie in every single aspect of her life. And she’s going to graduate high school. Now she’s all: “I’m like 17, nobody understands.”
So I decided, whatever it takes, for graduation I need to get her Taylor Swift tickets — even if it costs as much or more than those Hamilton tickets cost me years ago for Elizabeth.
So, I’m sure a lot of you did the same things I did. I signed up to be a verified fan (well, everyone in the family signed up) and put in for tickets in Kansas City, mid-July, Arrowhead Stadium!
And then on Tuesday, I got into the Taylor Swift queue before the start and got ready.
Oh boy. This was exciting. I’ve tried to get tickets this way before for Bruce Springsteen, but I did realize that this was going to be different because, you know, as much as I love the Boss, uh, she’s Taylor Swift.
Here’s how you know it’s different. Bruce Springsteen was on Jimmy Fallon the other night. He talked about how HE needs to get tickets for Taylor Swift.
So, OK, at promptly 11 a.m., I was put into the Taylor Swift ticket queue!
And one minute later — I do mean one minute later — this popped up.
Um, well, OK then. That doesn’t sound too bad, right? Temporarily paused sounds like, you know, 15 minutes right? Something like that. So, I waited there. I could do a little work, sort of. I could watch a few Ryan George videos, I decided. And OK, so 15 minutes became a half hour, right, and a half hour became an hour, and at 12:16, I got this cheerful message from Ticketmaster.
Well, that sounded less appealing. However, you know, these are Taylor Swift tickets, and millions and millions of people obviously want them and there are bound to be some issues, right? So I did not close the window or attempt to rejoin the queue. I just sat there, looking the computer screen. I ordered a Jimmy John’s sandwich.
Another half hour went by. An hour. An hour and a half. I went to Twitter to see how other people were handling this fiasco. They were not handling it well. The stories on there would cause Dracula nightmares. There was one person who had waited like five hours to get to the front of the line and when she got there, her computer crashed. There was another person who had literally saved for a year to afford Taylor Swift tickets and then the system just kept booting her out. It was not comforting.
Meanwhile, Ticketmaster — which charges, I think this is right, a $3,930 surcharge on every ticket — seemed entirely helpless, even though they had to know EXACTLY HOW MANY PEOPLE would be coming since they are the ones that decided who gets to be a verified fan. They posted this not-at-all-comforting update.
After about three hours of staring at that temporarily paused queue, finally, my screen changed. And I was back here!
OK. back in business. There was one thing that was bothering me — what did “2000+ PEOPLE AHEAD OF YOU” mean? I mean, that could be 2,001 people or the entire population of India. I was reading on Twitter that there was some way to find out how many people were in the line, but it sounded kind of complicated, plus I wasn’t really sure I wanted to know.
So, back to waiting. And waiting. I put on some Taylor Swift music for inspiration. I listened to some of the fun old stuff — “You Belong With Me” and “Fifteen” and “Love Story” — and then I listened to some of the middle stuff, you know off “1989” and “Red” and those albums and then I listened to some of the newer stuff and, you know, another hour went by and then another hour went by after that, and I was up to a five-hour investment, and here’s how my screen looked.
Now, I don’t know about you — but it looked to me like the ball on the far left side there was in exactly the same place that it had been when I started. I kept trying to look at it more closely; was it a LITTLE bit to the right? Maybe.
Another half hour. Another. Now I was six hours into this. But …
Hey, hey, look … that ball is DEFINITELY a little tiny bit to the right. I looked at the long gray line and looked at how far the ball had moved and I did a little math calculation.
I’d say the ball had moved roughly 1/1,000th of the line.
That had taken six hours.
1,000 x 6 = 6,000 hours.
6000 / 24 = 250 days.
I would get into the queue Monday, July 23rd at approximately 5 p.m. Eastern time.
Unfortunately, the concert is scheduled for July 7 … so my timing seemed a little bit off.
I was ready to quit, of course, but Katie sent me a photo of her and her friend Caroline offering encouragement. I mean, I guess that’s what it was.
I started to think about Katie going off to college. I started to think about Margo and me becoming empty-nesters. I started to feel some, well, some things, you know, beyond the terror in the nightfall.
We all feel those feelings.
But, you know, no one notices until it’s too late to do anything.
So I went only. After another half hour, the ball moved a little bit, you know …
And I finally decided to dig into the page’s source code to see just how many people were in front of me in line.
The answer: 18,510.
That was the darkest moment. I mean that literally: The sky turned dark, as it does early this time of year. There were still EIGHTEEN THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED AND TEN people in front of me? Really? After 6 1/2 hours? Robbers to the East? Clowns to the West? I thought to myself, “Maybe it’s OK, maybe the line moves REALLY fast.”
SO I checked the page source coding against about 20 minutes later to see how many people were in front of me now.
The answer: 18,481
Twenty-nine people had gotten through in 20 minutes. I again did some quick math. And this time I realized that I would not get into the actual ticket arena until the year 2043. I went on Twitter and saw this:
Sigh. There it was in one Tweet: my life’s failure. I’ve had a good time writing sports. I have loved it. I’ve become friends with amazing people. But after all these years, I could think of no one I could call for a Taylor Swift favor.
I was ready to give in. I had lost hope — even if I waited this out and finally did get in, would there really be any tickets left? I think I’ve seen this film before, and I didn’t like the ending, you know?
But then I decided: No. WWKD. What would Katie do? She’d double down, that’s what she’d do. Plus, the little ball did actually start moving a little bit to the right. Then a little bit more. And more. Seven hours and 40 minutes in, I saw this:
AAAIIEEE! And then, within seconds, suddenly, it was this:
Then, seemingly in an instant, there was one person ahead of me, and then I heard a very loud but friendly tone, and then the screen was asking me for our fan code …
Then I was in.
And once I got in, well, there were seats available! There were actually quite a few seats available! I felt like Charlie did when he first walked into the Willy Wonka factory and before the kids started dying off. There was a chocolate waterfall! There were edible flowers! I dove into the section we wanted and looked to find four tickets together, and there they were, on the floor, near the stage, and I bought those tickets, and they cost me significantly more than my first car, or my second car, for that matter, or both combined, and when I told Katie that I had gotten them she cried and cried and couldn’t stop and didn’t want to stop, either.
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I'm late to this party, but I just wanted to say CONGRATULATIONS! And just, wow. What an adventure.
Joe -- You are a first team all conference dad if ever there was one. In the words of somebody famous from some famous movie, the most important part of being a dad is just showing up. Way to be there for Katie!