Yes, this story has a prologue, that is more like an epilogue. I am writing this part after the story you are about to read was complete. I wrote this story throughout the day to calm myself down from the frustration of events that seemed to just pile on… but as you will see, it becomes so twisted that it reads like a script for a movie or farce. So, enjoy… I know you will want to see how it all turns out!
“Life is like a combination lock; your job is to find the right numbers, in the right order, so you can have anything you want.”
— Brian Tracy
The financial bomb that hit last October meant that our family had to make sacrifices. Now let me say first of all that we are blessed to have a nice home, plenty of clothes, food on the table and cars to get us around. So I understand in the grand scheme of things, we have a lot. For a kid who grew up spoiled, adjustment is not just hard, it’s about learning. Today’s lesson will show that even though I have tried to cover all the bases, sometimes I can still be hit by the pitch.
My son and I are going to our first Sounders match of the MLS season, even though we have season tickets. Sounders are to us like baseball is to most fathers and sons. Ever since the team arrived, I have been witness to the joy in a young man’s eyes at every moment spent at the pitch. Soccer is his life. He would say it defines him. So when I could not afford to renew our tickets this year, I went into a full 90 mode trying to figure any way possible to save the seats. I was, with the help of amazing friends, able to split the tickets four ways. Each if us would get four or five matches.
Our first was to be three weeks ago. My son has been playing for months with an injury, or to be precise, a genetic defect in his right ankle. He has played through the pain because it could not do further damage, but the pain intensified. By the end of the season, he could barely move, which as a goalkeeper one needs to do. But as his coach said, a 30 percent version of him was as valuable as a 100 percent version of most everyone else.
When our first Sounders game came up, he had his last game of the season scheduled at the exact same time. Luckily, I was able to trade tickets with one of this coalition I had formed. My son went into surgery to fix the injury which meant six weeks of no weight bearing on his foot. He was in a wheelchair after surgery for what is called a coalition, which is when bones that are not supposed to be attached, are attached together and cause bone bruising because they slam together when doing things like kicking a ball or cutting on the turf.
Our Sounders tickets are in row x. A wheelchair can not reach row x. So, even before the surgery, I called my ticket rep to inquire about disabled seating for this game and the next (which falls on out mutual birthday.) The rep was able to get the tickets for the second game as well.
We used to have parking for all games in the super-convenient North Lot. We gave that up because of not getting full season tickets. We were very excited though that we could take the Sounder train to the game. At 10 am this morning, after a Facebook post from a friend, we discover the trains were cancelled due to a mudslide. So, that was out.
“Explosions are not comfortable.”
— Yevgeny Zamyatin
I went online to see our options which were drive or take a regular bus. We chose the bus, so I went upstairs to print out our tickets from the email sent to me. My printer is broken and my wife’s computer would do the trick. I forwarded the tickets to her email and when I went to print them there was no link. I followed instructions to go to the ticketmanager site at soundersfc.com. It now tells me that my wife’s computer does not meet the specs to go onto the site and I have to download a new web browser, which I do.
I get on the account manager, and guess what it said? Yep, that I had no tickets. I try for 30 minutes to figure it out, then call the Sounders Ticket Office. Of course, it was busy and I was caught in a phone loop hell that always ended in a hang up. We now decide that in order to catch the 11:07 bus, we would have to hurry. Let me tell you, when I am frustrated and have a kid in a wheelchair, hurrying is not an option. I get him to the car and try to grab my stuff for the game… Scarf, water bottle, coat. My son says he wants his hat and scarf as well, so I rush downstairs to his room where I can’t find them. Picture trying to find a particular stick in a jungle. Yep, a 12 year old’s room.
After a couple of minutes, success and we are ready to go. Wheelchair loaded. Son in the car. I’m in the car. It’s 10:59 with a 13 minute drive to the park and ride. And… And… And! I can’t find my car keys. I rush into the house and found them within about 45 seconds. It’s now 11:02. If we miss the bus it’s another half an hour before the next one. We have no tickets. No time. No patience left.
We get to the park and ride at 11:12 behind a bus. It’s the bus we want so I screech into a handicapped place and all the passengers were aboard. I tear out of the car and rush to pull out a wheelchair so the driver might stay a moment longer. Luckily it worked. But we had water bottles and stuff which I piled onto my son’s lap. I look and see… Okay, the driver was waiting. I peek into my wallet and find a 20 and 2 ones. I open the car again to get my “man purse” full of change and run to the bus. Fare: 7 bucks for the two of us.
Now, my son is ready to go and all these poor people are waiting for “George Bungle” to act like he has just broken his piggy bank trying to pay for a 7 dollar fare with a crapload of assorted change. The driver sees I get to six-fifty and says “that’s enough.”
As I wait for my son to get buckled in, a homeless man who was in the front seat informs me that my zipper is open. Joys! Later, he would ask my son if he could sign his cast. My guy, being who he is, gleefully said yes, then watched the man struggle to put some kind of mark on it with a ball point pen. Both smiled afterward.
I, totally wiped out by this point, take my seat after the driver got Drew all set. So we are on our way. Oh wait, I realize that I have not locked the car and as we are driving away, I see it with the handicapped placard inside just screaming “steal me!” I call home to tell my wife in case she was going out and could go by and lock it. She was still feeling sick and said whatever happens, happens. So away we went. I took some quarters to make up for the fare and put them in the collector even though the driver said we were fine. (Note: I should have listened to him as we will discover later.)
Trying to calm down, I get on my phone and start to write this as it helps me to journal my feelings. I write until the end of the bus trip.
(Editor’s - okay, MY note: I have written up to this point on my iPhone on the trip to the game and the return. My thumbs are tired. I am switching to the computer now that I am home (Spoiler Alert! Yes, we made it home.)
We arrive at the termination of the route in the International District. When I boarded the bus, I had no idea where it was going other than it was headed to the stadium. Drew and I got off and followed the fans. We went through the King Street Station over a bridge down an elevator, down a sidewalk to reach the sidewalk we thought we wanted only to find that it was blocked. Finally. we circumvent our way to the ticket office where our next challenge awaited.
I step up to the open booth and begin my explanation. Season ticket holder who had forwarded my ticket but then forwarded it back and talked to the rep about exchanging it for disabled seating and couldn’t print out my tickets and all i have is my season ticket card and my iPhone with an e-mail saying that I really should have the tickets. She looked at me and said, “hand me your I.D.”
“I learned that the only way you are going to get anywhere in life is to work hard at it. Whether you’re a musician, a writer, an athlete, or a businessman, there is no getting around it. If you do, you’ll win—if you don’t, you won’t.”
— Bruce Jenner
(Olympic Champion to my generation
Kardashian step dad to today’s generation)
5 minutes later she returned. “Oh, you are Jon Horton… I’ve been expecting you. Sorry it took me so long, I got chatted up coming back. We have your tickets right here and some for next week as well so you don’t have to come back and do this all next week too.”
What? Wait a minute, that was too easy. Here I was all freaked out that I had really screwed up what was supposed to be a joyous day only to find that I was good all along.
Now, let me call a timeout here for a personal word. I operate in a high stress environment every day, whether it is at home or at work. In the period of three weeks, three family members would have some sort of surgery or proceedure done (myself included - an easy but invasive procedure). At work, I operate in problem solving mode 99 percent of the time, having to anticipate the problems then go into improv mode, imagining all the problems and their solutions before they happen. It was this mode that I was in at this time. I sometimes look very agitated, but I am in control of what is happening, even if the objective is to get back into control of the situation. Let’s move on.
We go to the street vendors and get a hot dog. We hear the vendor saying Jumbo Beef Hot Dogs, 3 dollars! I order two and when they ask me to pay the woman says, “12 dollars.”
“Twelve dollars?!? It says three each?”
“You ordered two jumbos, that’s 12!” retorted each of the employees.
I said, “I just wanted two of the 3 dollar hot dogs that I heard him say… jumbo.”
They all kind of smiled and realized what happened. They said they misunderstood and took my six dollars and handed me two hot dogs. I wrap them up and and we go into the stadium.
There were no problems getting in, but we needed to find an elevator. Located right by the elevator was a promotional booth with giveaways. My son spun the wheel and won an over sized hat. He chose to get a tote bag instead as he felt like he was a shopping cart holding onto everything the whole trip while I pushed him. It was well needed!
We got to our seats, and even though they were in the same section as our usual seats, the lower view was quite different. I rushed over to the concession stand to grab a soda before the game. When I paid for it, I saw a reminder to swipe my season ticket card. So I did, and my 4 dollar Coke became a three dollar one. Apparently, there are deep discounts when you are a season ticket holder until kickoff. Score, or so I thought.
I returned to the seats as a couple came down to sit next to us. She had a lot of food with her and I was offering to help her, despite the fact we were eating our hot dogs. She said something like isn’t it great to be in the free food section? What? We were where? It turns out that even though our seats were in the same section as our usual location, the ADA seats were in the all inclusive section. So my 3 dollar soda would have not cost me a thing. We did take advantage of the deal later though. I think I would get even fatter than I already am if I sat in those seats regularly.
Finally the game started, and in spite of the fact that it was one of the more exciting games we had seen in a while, it was the most boring part of this story.
Hope is the spur of life.
- Edward Counsel
Towards the end of the game, my son noticed that the love of his life had walked into the stadium and was on the field. Hope Solo, the US National Team goalkeeper and new member of the Sounders Women was visiting the NBC crew. When the final whistle blew, I asked my son if he wanted to go down and try to see her. He enthusiatically answered in the affirmative, and away we went to the elevator. I was heading one way when he said the elevator was in the other direction. We got to a different set of elevators than we had come up on and when the car arrived, it was over full. Plan B - hit the ramp. After all, this was the gorgeous Hope Solo, the absolute personification of an almost teenage goalie’s dream… beautiful and SHE PLAYS GOAL!
Down the ramp we sped, me holding on for dear life to keep the wheelchair from heading down on its own. We near the bottom, which would let us out mere yards from the epitome of every one of my son’s dreams! Just when we got there, we were forced to exit the stadium by the ushers. Thwarted! But were we?
We headed towards the side of the stadium and looked for someone coming out. When we found one, we just missed it which lead a surly CenturyLink employee to tell us “move on now!” Sigh. Hope was now, literally lost to us.
We continued and found the opening we were looking for. I knew the team shop was still open and we swerved through the crowd in the shop, nearly taking down a few people inside. We made our escape into the concourse. Would we “keep Hope alive?”
There was the entrance to the section, and a big crowd had gathered to see her, apparently with the same idea. The usher guarding the section saw my son in his chair and motioned him into a free spot with a great view. One of the pro photogs for some reason told me to hand her the phone and she took some pics from the set for us. How nice is that? Just when we thought Hope was wrapping up her interview, my son’s hopes for Hope increased. Would their eyes meet? Would she declare her undying love for him and say she would run away with him and play soccer with him forever? That must have been what he was thinking. He looked up at me and answered the mystery.
“Dad, you think she would sign my cast?” Okay, that.
And just when the time was right, the usher’s supervisor came in and told everyone to leave… now! Hope was lost! Love spoiled! How could this blue jacket keep Romeo from his Juliet? Sigh.
“Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.
As we were leaving, he looks up and says, "Let’s go to autograph alley and see who is there.” He did not have a ticket for the event. We just rolled in and saw that the line was already in place and we had not missed the players. But not having the magic ticket would not stop our wheel chaired protagonist. He caught the eye of an older lady usher who immediately came over and asked him how he was injured. He simply called it a soccer injury (the explanation would take too long and he had already explained it about a dozen or more times.) Well, this lady took a shining to him and said “stay there, I’ll bring the players to you. Sure enough after all the players finished with the kids with the tickets, David Estrada and Sammy Ochoa came over to him and each signed his cast. They even took a minute to talk to him. It wasn’t Hope Solo, but it was still two of the Sounder young guns. That was just cool.
Happy, we headed for the exits when the boy realized what every boy does when there is no chance to do it. He needed to pee. We asked the door supervisor, sweet as we could, if we could go back in and use the bathroom. He said it was no problem and both of us were quite relieved… well literally I guess. It would have been a very long ride home.
Mission accomplished, and now to get back for one of the last two buses heading back to our destination. We thought we had plenty of time as there was at least 30 minutes before it would leave. We saw a couple of people who sit next to us and chatted with them, when I reminded my son that we needed to head out.
Just as we got to the stop at the scheduled time, I see the bus… but it did not list Everett as the destination. One number off. We stood and waited and waited. When the next time came and went I looked at my phone again to make sure we were in the right place. Yep, 4th and Jackson. Um… er… we were at 5th and Jackson. The route sign was for southbound buses.
Like a bat out of hell, we rushed down the block, around the corner, hit a bump which stopped both of us cold, but no damage. We came around the corner and saw the sign for the stop… this was the right one as it said to Everett (the previous sign just had the numbers.) Just minutes later, the bus appeared and we got on. And one little bit of information came to light.
Remember when I didn’t have the proper money for the fare and thought I short changed the driver. I actually put in $7.50. The fare was actually 5.00 - for both of us combined. I forgot my son was "disabled” and being in a wheelchair, qualified for a reduced fare. Oh well, that made 2.50 in extra fare for the trip, three dollars for a coke, that we didn’t have to spend. Wait a minute, we didn’t need the hot dogs either, so add another 6 bucks there. 11.50. Sigh.
Entering the bus, I put 5 dollars in the fare taker. And in the display, there is was. $1.00. Really? Really?!? And the driver was busy putting my son in the spot for the chair. I told the bus driver what happened and thinking he would say “yeah, I’ve heard that one before… you owe me four!” He just said, usually you pay when you get off, and that the machine does that.
I went back to writing the story you see above on my iPhone when I saw there was only 12% charge left on it. Thoughts of the car came into my mind. If it was stolen, would I have enough charge to call 911 or home. I carried on until I noticed a store I had never seen before. It was a new place near the Everett Park and Ride. We were back in Everett? Already?
Quickly I turned to look where the unlocked car was. The car was there, but surely someone would have reached in and taken the handicapped placard, leaving the car there with a ticket for parking in a handicapped stall as well as who knows what missing. I couldn’t see it in the window. When we got closer, the pass was caught on a bauble dangling from the rear view mirror. It was there.
We departed the bus, reminding the driver about the 5 dollars. He said, “thanks for reminding me,” and off we went to the car. Yes, it was unlocked, with nothing missing.
We began to drive home, when I decided to get a soda, (yep, I love my soda). As we turned towards the store, I looked over at my son and said, “well, we made it.”
He laughed and said, “we’re not home yet!”
Sodas were purchased, actually soda as I got a free one thanks to a full card. We are about to pull into the driveway when the phone rings. It was my wife wondering where we were. It was nearly 6 pm. Our long national nightmare turned excellent adventure, was now complete.
Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.
- John Wooden
The lesson learned is that things will eventually even themselves out. I had done all the preparation to get ready for the game, and even though we were thwarted at every turn, it was still a most wonderful day. When we got home, I leaned over in the car and hugged my son and said “thanks for a great day.” It sure didn’t start that way, but it ended as an incredible story that I share with you now.
So, next time it looks like everything is going wrong, it may just be getting ready to be right.
Oh, great. My battery warning light is going off. I hope I get a chance to sa
Tonight i have decided to randomly show up at the love of my life's house ( ex boyfriend ) & fix things , at least try. I’m going to apologize for all the little arguments , all the problems that had made their way into our relationship & let him know that i’m going to try my hardest to not let any thing get between us again . in 3 days will be the 1 month date of our break up. I cant forget about these feeling or pretend their not their because 6 months is too long to just give up on things. Im doing this because i love him. & if he loves me like he still says he does , by the end of the night im going to be the happiest girl in the world.