By AMANDA LOVIZA VICKERY
Glasgow Daily Times
The Olympics are worth everything you go through in order to see them. They really are. However, sometimes what you go through is not pleasant.
For my husband, Dave, and me, our first inkling that our honeymoon trip to the Olympics might not be perfect came in early July, in the form of a series of e-mails from CoSport, the company responsible for selling and shipping Olympics tickets to residents of the U.S., Canada and Australia. First, the shipping date of our tickets was delayed. Then, the date was delayed again. We had paid extra money to have the tickets shipped in advance to our home. By July 10, we were no longer willing to risk waiting for our tickets, which still hadn’t been shipped. So, we switched to Will Call. We knew the queue would be horrendous.
Our first day in London, the day before our Olympics event, we went to Will Call on the City of Westminster College campus. The queue was three hours long. It was OK, we told ourselves, we would just wait as patiently as we could. There was a friendly Canadian couple behind us, and the mood in line was easygoing enough.
Three hours later, we finally made it to the check-in desk. Dave handed the CoSport agent all the proper paperwork, and the lady took it and disappeared behind a partition to retrieve the tickets.
As the minutes ticked by and the lady did not return, we started to get agitated. It took the CoSport agent five to 10 minutes to return, and by then we were ready to jump over the table at her. She very calmly (and annoyingly) told us that she could not find our tickets so they would have to be reallocated. We had no idea what that meant. Then she told us that we’d been standing for a long time and she’d like to take us back to an auditorium where we could sit and wait for it to be sorted out.
I couldn’t believe this was happening to us. It seemed like we were the only ones in the crowd not happily retrieving tickets.
As soon as the door to the auditorium opened, I realized we were far from the only ones getting the bad end of the deal. There must have been 150 to 200 people in that auditorium, all with different complaints. Some families had tickets strewn around arenas; some didn’t get tickets to the event they purchased and were being offered tickets to other events; some were turning in tickets for refunds but not getting any receipt in return; and some were like us, with simply no idea what happened to their tickets.
The CoSport agent pointed us to a separate row, assuring us that only three people were ahead of us in line, and we would be helped soon. We sat down in a row of seats behind an Australian lady who had only received some of the tickets she ordered, a British woman who had returned an expensive ticket but received no receipt to guarantee her refund and a Texas woman who didn’t know what happened to her tickets.
The Australian lady filled us in on what we politely called, “the war room.” (When we were not as polite, we called it the “pissed-off room”). We had to get our names on a certain CoSport agent’s clipboard, but even then we weren’t guaranteed any help. The Australian lady had been to Will Call three days in a row, and still hadn’t made any progress on her tickets. The more we listened to the stories around us, the more terrified Dave and I became that we would not be able to see the Olympics after all.
When the clipboard lady came out, we jumped to get our names written down. We asked if she knew what was happening or if she could help, but she just told us she was trying to help a lot of people and she would get to us when she could.
We had been sitting on our death row for about 30 minutes when a pretty young African-American woman in a CoSport polo stopped and asked, “Have you been helped yet?” Such simple, sweet little words. Dave and I were at the point of wanting to assault someone, but I took a deep breath and through my shaking told her I wasn’t actually sure whether we were being helped. We got on the clipboard like we were told to, I said, but it had still not been explained to us whether our tickets actually existed and were misplaced or if they had never existed to begin with.
The woman listened to my choppy explanation, and then reached out for our confirmation number and said she would see what she could find out, and she’d be right back. As she walked away, I was kicking myself for handing her the only printed proof we had of purchasing our tickets. Part of me thought we would never see her again, and then we would be sitting in line without any paperwork to prove we deserved tickets.
Only a couple minutes went by before the woman reappeared. I saw the coveted envelope in her hand, but I quickly told myself it must be for someone else. Beams of light might as well have been shining down on her head as she stopped next to us and gave us an apologetic look.
“I don’t know what happened, but here they are,” she said.
She had Dave sign her form as I opened the envelope to check on our tickets. My hands were shaking so badly I could barely get the tickets out.
There they were, in their shiny pink glory, two tickets proclaiming side-by-side seats for the second session of men’s gymnastics on Saturday. I almost cried right there.
“What’s your name?” I asked.
“Mercy,” she said. How appropriate.
I asked if I could take a picture with her, but she smiled and said she’d love to but she couldn’t while she was working. Instead, she reached out and gave me a hug. I babbled some incoherent nonsense about being on our honeymoon and being so scared when they couldn’t find our tickets, and I thanked her, over and over again. She congratulated us, and told us she was glad to help. Everyone in view of our scene pushed closer to see what angel had actually managed to fix one of CoSport’s blunders. Suddenly Mercy was surrounded by people saying, “Can you help me next?”
Dave and I left the auditorium still trembling, wishing good luck to all those around us and calling out a final thank you to Mercy. When we got back out into the lobby, I stopped and sobbed onto Dave’s shoulder, relieved to have the nightmare behind us.
Our Olympic nightmare was short-lived. But not everyone’s was. There were hundreds of people just like us, who flew halfway around the world with the dream of watching the Olympics, only to arrive in London and be told their dream was not going to work out. Whether it was a 7-year-old sitting on the opposite side of the arena from her father, tickets to a different event or no tickets at all, there were people who didn’t have the incredible Olympic experience they expected. They weren’t part of the apathetic corporate world who didn’t mind wasting seats in Olympic arenas. These were regular people, who spent months or years saving money for their trip to London 2012, only to have it crumble around them.
If Mercy had not taken that moment to look at us and offer her assistance, we might not have gotten to the Olympics the next day. And we would have missed it simply because some CoSport employees were apparently visually impaired.
We would have enjoyed our Olympic experience immensely no matter what, but our time in “the war room” gave us some perspective. We were so much more thankful for those tickets, and the fact that not only could we work hard and save our money for such a big trip, but we were also blessed with a little extra Mercy to make it all come together. I pray that everyone else who faced an Olympic nightmare had someone that made things right.
Thank you, Mercy, for your part in making our honeymoon perfect.
Amanda Loviza Vickery is a staff writer for the Glasgow Daily Times. She can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.