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Sports commentary: Under pressure

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Buying tickets while under the (figurative) gun

  I’m not a quick thinker.  I accept that fact.

I’m the type who always thinks of the witty come-back line well after the conversation is over.

When I was in the Army, I wasn’t put into special forces or military intelligence:  outfits that require you to be quick on your toes.

No, I was in the artillery.  My job was to have things pointed out to me that needed blowing up.  Then I’d help to blow them up.  Fairly straightforward stuff, from an organization that knows exactly what it is doing.

I’m not cut out to be a contestant on a game show.  For instance, I do well in Jeopardy, at home.  Were I to earn a slot on the show, however, my buzzer would remain unbuzzed and my scoreboard would sit at $ 0.  “I’ll take ‘Guys who freeze up’ for 200, Alex.”

Yet, I recently overcame my difficulties, kept my wits and came through under pressure.

While I’m still not ready to be cast in the hero’s role for “Mission Impossible 4,” I’m pretty darn proud of the way I navigated the Washington Nationals’ website to buy a pair of game tickets.

Huh?  This is impressive?

If you’ve been to that site, I suspect you’d agree with me that it is.

First, some background.

The wife and I are heading to our nation’s capital for a weekend this summer.

Being a sports guy, it is imperative that I take my beloved to a Nationals game.  

Being that the Nationals don’t recognize my Bedford Bulletin press pass as one they’ll  honor, I had to actually buy some ducats.

That’s where the adventure begins.

The best part of this story (from the wife’s perspective, at least) is that I was able to find tickets that cost ten dollars, apiece.  Ten bucks!  The same price as a gallon of gas in Germany.  And, yes, I’m still in sticker shock from that one, meine Freunden.

Ten dollars is an almost unheard of price for tickets to a game in any professional sport.  Heck, at that price, our seats can be behind a sombrero-wearing Shaquille O’Neal and we’ll still be happy.

The challenge turned out to be in executing the buy.

That’s where I showed excellence against the clock.

The seats I wanted (the cheapos) were in a place called the Upper Right Field Terrace.  So I clicked that I wanted two seats in that fine section.

The reply screen told me two things.  First, I was required to respond back by identifying some bizarre squiggly letters.  I was to “enter the words or numbers in the exact order shown above and separated by a space.” 

Second,  I had three minutes to complete that particular task.

The words looked something like “ecianii ffesu,”  But the i’s kind of looked like 1’s.  Plus I couldn’t really tell if there was one of them or two.

Hmmmm.  Might need more than three minutes to decipher this DaVinci-like Code.

Somehow, I cracked the cypher and got to the purchase screen.  Here, I had another three minutes.  But I had to enter my name, contact info and credit card data.

All in three minutes!  I’m not too shabby of a typist.  The issue was getting the info and entering it accurately.

For instance, I wasn’t sure where my credit card was.  Then, I had a hard time reading the number.  Then, I was asked for the security code.  What in dickens is that?

Sweat started to bead on my forehead as I went under the one-minute mark.

Curses!  They wanted two phone numbers.  Plus, they want the billing address.  Is that my home address?  What is my home address, anyway?

Tick, tick, tick.

I’d have felt right at home if I’d had one of those gigantic timers like they always have affixed to a bomb in the movies.  By the way, why do movie bombers always include a large-number digital timer with their bombs?

But, I digress.

I hit the send button, just as the screen flashed “You have exceeded your time limit.”

Had I, though?  As my head hit my desktop, I heard the sound of an email hitting my in-box.  I tapped the mouse and saw a lovely note from the Nats, informing me of my purchase.  Success!

See you at the game.  And Shaq, you’re welcome to bring your hat.