My Fiddler on the Roof

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By Gideon

Few years ago, Mike, a friend at work mentioned that he was going to see Fiddler on the Roof that weekend. I told him that I wished that I had known about it earlier since my wife really wanted to see the play and we missed the opportunity the year before when the show was in town. Mike told me that there were several shows during the week and that I might still be able to find tickets. He also mentioned that this was the last opportunity to see Topol as the main character as he was retiring at the end of the week.

That evening, I searched the internet and found out that there was another show the next day, on Thursday night, but that the only seats that were still available were all the way at the back of the balcony on the third level. I asked my wife if she’d be interested in going to see the show. She liked the idea; she didn’t mind that it was at the far end of the theater.

“We have the movie at home,” she said. “I want to see the original and enjoy the theater atmosphere. I know the story so sitting at the back of the theater is not a problem.”

I purchased the tickets online. They were at the last row on the third level, the farthest from the stage as it can be. The two tickets together cost $63. I was instructed to pick up the tickets at the Will Call window at the evening of the show.

The next evening (Thursday), I hurried back home from work to pick up my wife. As I exited the expressway, I saw a beggar on the street corner. He looked miserable standing in the South Florida heat. No one stopped or paid any attention to him. I’ve seen him there before but never paid attention to him. This time however, I could see the pain on his face and it moved me. I felt so bad that I stopped the car, ignoring the traffic, and handed him few bucks

Later that evening we drove to the Art Center to watch the play; traffic was heavy and we were late. The show already started by the time we arrived at the Art Center. We got out of the car and rushed to the Will Call window to pick up the tickets. The cashier asked for my name and handed me an envelope with the tickets. He handed me the envelope quickly since several other late arrivals lined up behind us. In the lobby I could see on a small monitor that the opening act was already in progress. I tore the envelope open and showed the tickets to the usher without looking at them myself. The usher directed us downstairs to the entrance for our section. I thought to myself that these must be the worst tickets; it seemed that we were directed to the basement.

When we arrived at the lower entrance I showed the tickets to another usher who pointed us to another usher who assigned us to a lady that took us to our seats. All together four people examined our tickets by the time we were taken to our seats. It was dark inside the theater and the lady used a flashlight to find her way.

I knew immediately that this wasn’t our section; it was too close to the stage. We were in the expansive section; the $250 a pair of tickets section. The lady looked at the tickets again and moved toward the stage. The seats that she guided us toward were occupied (off course, we weren’t on the 3rd level. We were seven rows from the actors). She turned around. There were two vacant seats behind her so she said “seat here” and left.

The seats were great; the best I ever been in any theater. I could almost touch Topol. My seat was right next to the center aisle so no one blocked my view.

I told my wife; “These are not our seats”.

I was sure that in his rush to hand us the tickets, the cashier handed us the wrong envelope and that I didn’t notice the mistake since I didn’t bother to look at the tickets myself.  I looked around the theater; it was packed. I didn’t see any other empty seat. I couldn’t believe that these two seats were really vacant. I was certain that the seats were reserved for another couple who was also running late. I felt uneasy as if I got something that wasn’t belong to me and anticipated the embarrassment that would come once the lady that guided us was back and accusing us of sitting in other people’s seats.

Yet, the seats were great and the view was unlike any I’ve ever experienced in a theater before. I finally understood the term “Good Seats”. It was hard to give up those seats.

To my surprise, no one bothered us. During the intermission I checked the tickets. The balcony section was printed on them in bold letters. It didn’t’ make any sense; four ushers who were paid to look at the tickets pointed us to these seats. The question that I’m asking myself since then is; was this mistake or a payback for a good deed?

What do you think?