Diamond-Cut Life

More Joy, Less Stuff

Diamond-Cut Life random header image

Panhandling At The Oregon Zoo

August 3rd, 2011 by Alison · 1 Comment · entertainment, Oregon

“Um, excuse me, do you have any extra concert tickets?”

“No, sorry.” The young family clearly wished they could help.

“That’s OK. Hi there, do you have any extra tickets?” Before you judge me and my friend Colleen for panhandling for Big Bad Voodoo Daddy tickets outside the Oregon Zoo here in Portland this afternoon, I want you to know something. Last summer and the summer before, Colleen and I were handing out our extra concert tickets to strangers outside the zoo. (When you have the zoo membership we purchase annually you get four free tickets, and there were only two of us).

But this year the zoo slashed its Wednesday concert schedule from seven concerts to just three. Now everybody is piling into those three concerts, and this week’s and also next week’s events are quote “sold out”. (Am I controlling my resentment OK?) Context: until tonight, we’ve always showed up, showed our zoo membership cards, and had our tickets politely handed to us. No reserving our tickets beforehand — that was for folks who hadn’t bought zoo memberships.

But now the rules had changed. No tickets for our beloved outdoor concert, like being told there is no room in the inn. Where was our karmic reward for sharing our tickets freely in prior years? We begged fruitlessly for awhile.  We watched a dad in a baseball hat successfully panhandle for a total of three free tickets — for children who were nowhere in sight. We sighed jealously, and chatted up a glamorous couple visiting Portland from L.A. “He’s in sales,” the beautiful, white-toothed blonde informed me as her boyfriend hustled to procure tickets. In 15 minutes they had their two tickets — but the L.A. beau had paid $20 apiece for the $14 tickets. We decided the dad with the phantom kids had a better gig . . . . that, or being glamorous really costs you. We weren’t going to buy tickets at scalper prices that should have been free to us.

Colleen and I and her bicycle retreated underground to the Max tunnel as if to a cave, to lick our wounds and head back to town. After a long wait, a train came that was packed like a can of sardines. No room at the inn, no room on the train. More waiting. We talked about the novels we’re writing. Finally another train. We jumped up gratefully. “Not In Service”. The empty train proceeded on its way. We sank down again onto the cool gray cylinders and fantasized energetically about cocktails and dinner — could we at least eat outdoors somewhere, we hoped? So far down we had come from our plans of visiting the zoo’s wolves and dancing to Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

The next train had room for us. We ended up having margaritas and sandwiches at Violetta, which asserts itself to serve Portland’s fastest slow food. We ate outdoors. In Director Park. We were very happy. I reflected that our excursion into panhandling had given us a taste of what Medicare or Social Security recipients feel like when their entitlements are slashed. The analogy is poor, because medicine and rent money can be life or death, and a zoo concert is mere fun and games. I do like that we enjoyed our evening regardless of not getting what we’d felt was our entitlement.

By the way, Colleen’s purse was sporting a big red and white sticker that said I Heart Street Roots. She teaches a class on Street Roots at Portland State University, and I buy the Street Roots newspaper every time I encounter a vendor. The vendors, some homeless, some not, who sell the Street Roots paper reports that the work keeps them from having to panhandle.

Related Posts:


Tags: ·····

One Comment so far ↓

  • Christina

    I love that you ended up in the gramatically incorrect Director’s Park with it’s unpunctuated Teachers Fountain (where’s the possessive?!!) that makes every English teacher I know cringe.

Leave a Comment