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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Craigslist Follies! Or, How I Sold Some Papal Tickets

The Phillies gave this card out to
fans one night recently.
(If you're offended by foul language, you should be warned that towards the end of this post, there are a few nasty words.)

In case you haven't heard, perhaps because you've been visiting relatives on the moon, Pope Francis is coming to Philadelphia this weekend for the World Meeting of Families. It's an event I have no interest in. It's been extremely overhyped, whether because of security plans or just because of things like the item you see on the left. And most of the news coverage is either fluff (mostly ignoring the Philadelphia archbishop's extremist anti-gay bigotry or support for child-molesting priests over their victims) or downright useless. There are three public events at which Francis is appearing: a speech on Independence Mall, a Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and the "Festival of Families," featuring host Mark Walhberg and performances by Aretha Franklin, among others. After some confusion, it was announced that certain areas closest to the front would require tickets for admission. The tickets would be free, but they would be distributed online.

Although the demand for SEPTA's special weekend passes turned out to be nonexistent, the event tickets were snapped up in minutes. But with lots of clicking on the "refresh" button on my browser window I somehow managed to get four tickets each to the Papal Mass and the Festival of Families.

Having no real desire to be in the crowd for either event or go through security checkpoints, I decided to sell the tickets on Craigslist and see what I could get. Unlike most of the ads, I didn't request a specific price. I just said that people could make an offer and if I accepted, I'd send them my email address for PayPal and email the PDF documents when I received the payment. The first couple of days I got a couple of nibbles but no one followed through. I also had the post flagged for removal a few times by people who either took offense or just wanted to eliminate competition for their own tickets. Naturally, I just re-posted the ad each time.

Today, whoever was flagging them got more intense. At least three times my ad was deleted between overnight and mid-afternoon today. Then one of the people doing the flagging emailed a reply, perhaps by accident, because it seemed to be written to someone else.  He wrote: "Another scam. Will try to shut it down." I decided to reply, and I kind of didn't hold back: "NOT A SCAM, YOU FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT! WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?"

He replied with: "i can flag or we can meet to buy the tickets and then i can show you my badge and take it downtown. what will it be?" Yeah. Like he's a real cop or something. I wrote back: "Right. Who's scamming now?" (Interestingly, while in the middle of this my ad was still active and I was making a sale!)

He wrote again: "Stealing from religious pilgrims. Ask yourself if its worth it." I replied: "Not stealing at all. No one's forcing anyone to pay for them, you sanctimonious prick." He wrote back one more time, saying "You took those ticks from others for your own greed. You can't justify your actions." Instead of going back and forth, I flagged him. Each mail sent through Craigslist's relay system includes a link to "Please flag unwanted messages (spam, scam, other)" -- including mail that is "annoying/inappropriate/abusive." Boom.

First, ticks? Ewwwww. Second, there's no law against selling something you legitimately own. I didn't steal the tickets. I followed the process to get them. It's not my fault I was lucky for two out of three events. Third, as I said, I didn't demand a particular price. One woman said she was willing to pay $100 for two tickets ($50.00 each) to the Mass. I accepted (once she used the right email address in PayPal). The other buyer (the one going on during the email exchange) offered $100 for two Mass tickets and two Festival tickets (or $25.00 each) and I accepted his offer as well. And I'm not a bit sorry. I'm far from being in great financial shape, even before the medical bills from the last three months started rolling in, and even the fact that I go back to work for LIHEAP on Tuesday won't dramatically change that.

Hey, even though I'm not placing any more ads on Craigslist -- well, except one more, see below --there's still time to snap up the last two Festival tickets for Saturday night. :)

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