Now that football season has officially kicked off, so has a strange ritual in my world. No, I don’t mean standing around a parking lot, eating grilled food, drinking beers and making friends with strangers. Although the essence of tailgating, when stripped all the way down, is pretty strange.
I mean selling my extra parking pass to randoms.
Our four seats to the Washington football team (ahem, “Redskins”) come with two parking passes, and that’s great because it gives us the flexibility to meet people there or to share our extra pass with friends. But that also means that when we’re able to carpool and squeeze 4 into one car, along with all our gear and food, I try to make a little cash selling the pass. In reality, I’m just recouping the cost of the parking – after all, I paid for it already as part of the season ticket package.
But …. that was so long ago and that bill has long been paid, so psychologically, the cash I collect for the parking pass seems like found money. You know, next round of beers on me. At $10 a beer in the stadium, it really is only good for one round. Still, a “free” beer is a free beer.
The process goes something like this:
Take a look on Craigslist to scope out the market. I always find this part fascinating. There are people selling passes for $70. Whaa?!?! But the going rate is generally more like $40-50, depending on 1) how in-demand the game is and 2) timing.
The home opener, night games, NFC East rival games, big name glamour team opponents all are in-demand games. The snowy winter game when the team is 3-10 playing another 3-10 team, not such high demand.
Timing is tougher. Sometimes, early in the week is good because people are planning ahead. Then there’s a big rush at the end of the week, getting closer to game time. But don’t wait too long or there’s no market left. At least that’s my interpretation. So DC is made up of planners and last minute procrastinators. I guess that’s right. Kinda like life.
Now you’ve posted and in come the responses. Sometimes, it’s really slow. I try not to take it personally. I mean, maybe no one wants to see a crappy team play. And then there’s the opponent (hehe). Or maybe people are too busy at work to check Craigslist. Hmm, perhaps post closer to lunch next time?
In any case, the responses generally fall into two categories. The nice kind: is your parking pass available? I can meet you this afternoon, tomorrow, whenever.
I love this response. The next step is easy – figure out what part of town they’re in, try to come up with a place that’s easy for both. I like a public place at lunch – easy for everyone to get to, no fuss. Hence Potbelly or Nordstrom Rack or Metro entrance. But I’ve also pulled up to brunch on a Saturday or gone to a club as the staff is setting up.
I imagine it’s like a drug deal. We both show up at the same corner. Usually, the first person to arrive texts. Then we say hi, confirm that I’m A and you’re B, and do the deal. Here’s the parking pass, I say, confirming it’s the right game, right color pass, etc. And they hand over cash. We say bye and wish each other fun at the game. Done.
The other kind of Craigslist response: I’ll take your pass for $20.
Hmm, was that my asking price? Er, no. You’re not doing me a favor buddy. And this isn’t an auction. This is a business transaction. Oh, and we’re not in the grand bazaar in Istanbul or the street market in Beijing, either.
I got one of those this week, long after I had sold the pass. “I’ll give you $30 and meet you tomorrow.” Whatever. I sent him my standard “Thanks, but I’ve sold the pass. Best of luck.” Sometimes I add an HTTR for good measure. At least I hope I’m selling to fellow fans.
Still, until the exchange actually happens, it could fall through, so I keep some of the more pleasant inquiries just in case. It’s just a matter of time before I have to go back to one of them. Nicely, of course.
And a few times, I’ve had repeat buyers. Last year, there was the Potomac dad whose son was coming home from college with friends. He then contacted me for another game later in the season. Guess kid came home to see him again.
There was also the guy who bought tickets for his friend, who sometimes wanted to drive and sometimes wanted to Metro. I hear you, I’m the same way. And for last year’s night games, we managed to catch a ride to the game with friends, selling both our passes and using the proceeds to finance an Uber home. Now that was completely indulgent, but so what?
There was also the woman – African American, platinum blonde short hair, striking – who invited us to tailgate with her and her friends at the Eagles game. I actually went to try to find her. Found the dj and the tents, but didn’t see her. Alas. That would have been fun.
So onward with my parking pass adventures this season. We’ll see if anyone’s still buying as we get into November.