My phone rang multiple times on Wednesday night. “DAD” kept popping up on the screen. My immediate thought was one of panic and medical emergency. So I mentally prepared myself for urgent news of a car accident or a death in the family. I called him back.
“I’ve got two tickets to the Penguins game tomorrow. Wanna go with me?” he asked.
I agreed without hesitation. I love going to the Consol Energy Center on a weeknight. It feels like I’m starting the weekend early. Get a few beers. Eat a sandwich where the main ingredient is a salted, cured meat. Curse liberally at people from another state.
As I drove to work the morning of the game, the sports guy said that he was going to be broadcasting live from Madison Square Garden. It seemed like a strange choice, but I didn’t think anything of it. I trudged through the work day, looking at my little hockey schedule that said Pens @ Rangers. It was obviously a misprint. The Pens were at home, like my dad said.
I drove back from work and there was no sign of the usual traffic on game nights. “Man,” I thought to myself. I must have really hit the sweet spot here. Can’t believe how lucky I am.” Dad and I drove into the city together. Again, no traffic. No trouble finding a space in the giant parking garage that is usually overflowing with people wearing Crosby jerseys and drinking Labatt’s Blue. We asked the parking attendant what the rates were for the night. He raised his eyebrow and looked puzzled.
“Just…normal?” he said, obviously unsure of what we were talking about.
“There’s no game day rate?” my dad asked.
“Yes, there is. But not tonight.”
“Is tonight special or something?” I replied. This guy was obviously a few fries short of a Happy Meal.
“No?” he trailed off. We broke away and headed towards the sandwich shop thinking that the parking lot attendant was a real moron.
The sandwich shop adjacent to the Consol Energy Center was surprisingly empty. No Penguins fans to be found. Seemed weird but oh well. Maybe we just got lucky again. We were first in line to get a delicious pastrami on rye. The sandwich artist asked us, “You guys planning on watching the game here?”
Jeez. People are really dumb. We’re both dressed head to toe in Penguins logo’d apparel. We’re obviously going to the game. What was with everyone tonight?
The bartender looked us over and knew something was up. He went to the side of the bar to pick up his copy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “If you guys are going to try to make it to the game,” he said. “Then you’d better start driving.”
In bold print the newspaper read, “Penguins vs. Rangers at Madison Square Garden.”
We looked at each other and started laughing. He grabbed tickets for the wrong date. We also realized that everyone who we thought were idiots were probably thinking the same thing about us. When we realized the overwhelming amount of evidence that we had ignored throughout the day, it made us laugh even harder.
So we sat there for a period or two, finished a few beers, and discussed life, property values and misdemeanors that we may or may not have committed in our younger days. We went home embarrassed but full of pastrami. So all in all, we were still pretty lucky.