Do you remember the thrill you got when word came down the pike that tickets for each of the Star Wars Prequels were going on sale? Admittedly, that sense of excitement probably was a lot like – or the same – feeling you experienced when you heard about tickets for last year’s “The Force Awakens” going on sale, as well as this year’s “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”. If you were like me, you were – and are – soaring high on Cloud Nine!
I remember high-tailing it to our local theater when tickets for each of the Prequels went on sale – to stand in line with fellow Star Wars fans as we waited – for hours – for the box office to open. [In my neck of the woods, city code does not allow for anyone to stand in line for days.] While there usually was something else I *should have* been doing, I was happy to be my family’s representative in line to ensure we got tickets to “The Phantom Menace”, “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith”. It was fun to be among the horde of Star Wars fans! Strangers became acquaintances, even friends. We shared tales of our years of being fans of [in my opinion] the greatest franchise in the world. Those of us who thought ahead brought nourishment to see us through our “ordeal”, and we shared our sustenance. We saved each other’s places in line when anyone had to make a run to the nearby service station to “use the facilities”, to purchase a bit extra sustenance or to make a call home to request additional supplies. Everyone stayed in good spirits. We were in it for the long haul – together in our shared objective.
Last year, as I sat glued to the television – during the commercial breaks [something I am not likely to do under normal circumstances!] – waiting for the new “The Force Awakens” trailer to air during that night’s Monday Night Football game – to signify the onset of ticket sales – I thought the Star Wars ticket-buying experience was going to be lackluster. As soon as the trailer wound down, I ran upstairs to my computer, which already was set up at one of the movie ticket buying websites, and began the arduous task of trying to get my purchase to go through. Ugh! For two hours, the site kept crashing, and I thought I’d never be able to get tickets to “The Force Awakens” [for opening night, that is]. I even tried getting tickets to other nights’ viewings [I had planned to see TFA more than once over the course of its in-theater showings] – all to no avail. At one point, I received a phone call from my oldest daughter who lives halfway across the country from me, and she asked if I would like her to purchase tickets for our Christmas holiday family viewing. Mind you, I thought it incredibly ironic that there she was – in Southern California – able to purchase tickets to see “The Force Awakens” at a theater here in Wisconsin when I couldn’t – even though I was right here! Frustrated with putting up with the uncooperative website, I decided to give our local theater a call to see if, by some chance, it was open, and whether I could buy my tickets there. When I was told, “Yes, come on over!”, I threw on my jacket, grabbed my car keys, bid my husband a hurried “I’m going to South Shore to buy my tickets in person!”, and drove the 12 minutes to the movie house. I opened the main door to find I was not the only individual to give up on modern technology! The few of us who stood in line waiting to make our purchases bemoaned our unsuccessful attempts online, laughed at how this experience seemed to mirror Darth Vader’s retort about the “technological terror” the Empire had constructed. Machines always are meant to fail – in one capacity or another – and Darth Vader knew it. So did those of us who put Plan B into action. 😉 It was fun being party to that cadre of fans who took matters into their own hands, and went to the theater to purchase tickets. Even though we stood in line for only 10 or 15 minutes, we got the chance to connect instead of dealing with an inanimate object to complete our task. When my turn came, I was able to snag the last two seats next to each other [the theater I chose offers assigned seating] at the time slot I wanted. Now, all I had to do was be patient and wait for Opening Night!
Fast forward to the fall of 2016, and we Star Wars fans anxiously awaited word about when tickets for “Rogue One” would go on sale. Disney was mum about it for the longest time, and when fans started mulling over the possibility that an announcement would come on Thanksgiving, I dismayed – because I wouldn’t have access to a television, and access to a computer would be sporadic at best. Bless her heart, CWK’s own media specialist, Lisa, offered to email me if she heard anything. She got word to me that tickets for “Rogue One” would go on sale at 12:01 a.m. EST this past Monday. I was slated to be home by that time, but midnight? Midnight? [Of course, I knew if it was midnight EST, tickets would go on sale at 11:01 p.m. Sunday where I live, but that still would be pretty late for the box office to be open.] On the off chance that I would be able to forego using the internet to complete my ticket purchases, I called the theater to ask if the box office would be open late Sunday night. Sadly, I received a negative reply – although the individual who answered the phone kindly shared with me that it would open early Monday morning, at 8:30. If I got too frustrated online, I always could go to the theater in the morning to pick up tickets then, even though I probably would have to forego an opening night viewing.
It took almost one hour for me to finally complete an online purchase of tickets to “Rogue One”. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say that either of the two websites I was using actually “crashed” during that time period [I hoped doubling my efforts would result in a faster, positive outcome], I got “error” message after “error” message, and grew more and more frustrated. When I seemed to make headway … I wound up having my spirits dashed when I’d get a “timed out” response – after only seconds of going through the purchase process! Timed out after 10 seconds? How is that possible? I had to start the whole endeavor all over again! Ugh! When I finally – seemed – to complete my ticket purchase, I wasn’t even sure if my transaction went through properly since I didn’t get a confirmation. I called the customer service number for the website, and the kind young woman on the other end of the telephone line told me, yes, my purchase went through. Then she apologized, explaining that the website was lagging – incredibly so – due to the high volume of traffic. All this was transpiring while I was put in another website’s “queue”. Before my wait time was over, I was kicked out of the queue, and had to restart that process! You’d think these online giants would be prepared for the onslaught of Star Wars fans trying to buy tickets to the upcoming film – especially after what happened last year when tickets for TFA went on sale. As it turns out, TFA and ROASWS hold the top two slots, respectively, for single-day ticket sales as reported by the major online ticket outlets [according to “Entertainment Weekly”].
Yes, it was frustrating to go through this yet again, but as far as I’m concerned, the real loss was not having the opportunity to share the ticket-buying experience with other Star Wars fans. Sitting at my computer, I missed the camaraderie of my fellow fans. I missed the chance to get to know a few of you – even if for only a short while. I missed the chance to share stories and experiences that only kinship allow. I missed the opportunity of our paths crossing in our shared quest. I missed the connection that one can get only in those instances when people are in the same place at the same time.
One thing is for certain, though. I’m looking forward to catching up with you next month as we wait – in line – for the doors to open to “Rogue One”. See you there!
What about you? What are your thoughts about this? I’d love to hear them. We may be using a machine to connect in this instance, but there would be a connection nonetheless. 🙂 Please leave a message in one of the comment boxes below.
Until next time,
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