Trip to Walnut Creek ruined a perfectly good bad mood

Dean Lesher center
Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts

There were definitely activities I would have preferred to making a trek into Walnut Creek to exchange a theater ticket, and I admit that I resented the Lesher Center for the Arts for putting me in the position of having to drive through the Caldecott Tunnel twice on an otherwise beautiful Sunday.

Of course it was my own fault. I had bought tickets to the play over a month ago without checking our family’s master calendar.

“Do you really have to go to the BDPNN meeting that night?” I’d asked hopefully.

Dave’s apologetic smile said it all. He’s on the board of Berkeley’s Disaster Preparedness Neighborhood Network (I think that’s what it stands for), and it would be in bad form to skip out on a meeting to go to the theater, even if it is to see our friend Charlie in the starring role.

So I called the box office and spoke to Trevor, who asked me if I was a subscriber. No, I’m not. (I didn’t follow up with the snotty question: why would I subscribe to a theater in Walnut Creek when I live in Berkeley where there is great theater both here and close by in San Francisco?) “Then you’ll have to come in to the box office to exchange your tickets.” I asked if I couldn’t just make the exchange over the phone, to which he replied no.

So I wasn’t liking Trevor or Dean Lesher. I don’t actually know who Dean Lesher is, but his namesake seemed unreasonable, so he suffers by association.

And of course I put it off to nearly the last day, which means that our seats were guaranteed to be way to the side and in the back of the auditorium.

But I got in my car and headed east, resigned to losing an hour and a half of my life. (And of course, it’s also a waste of gas. So the Dean Lesher Center for the Arts was responsible for expanding my carbon footprint as well.)Caldecott

While I was forking over the exchange fee, I inquired why I wasn’t allowed to make this transaction over the phone. The woman behind the counter assured me that I could have, since I’d bought the tickets online.

“But Trevor said I couldn’t exchange them by phone because I wasn’t a subscriber,” I informed her.

“Did you tell him you’d bought them online?”

“No, but he didn’t ask…”

Grrr…I’d already paid to use the parking garage there (Walnut Creek’s parking meters run on Sundays too!), so I figured I might as well eat lunch before I drove back through the tunnel. I asked the woman at the box office for a recommendation and set off for a place a few blocks away called Tender Greens.

I had a delicious but healthy roast veggie salad and an apple crisp for dessert (to reward myself for having such a healthy entrée). It was a lovely day, so I opted for an outside table, where a woman approached me and introduced herself. Jennifer enjoys buying scratcher lottery tickets; but once she wins the money, she gives it away. Today I was the recipient of her winnings. She handed me a five-dollar bill with a smile.

I wish I had asked if she had criteria for choosing her beneficiaries, but I was taken by surprise and didn’t think of that question until later. Maybe she sensed that I had categorized my trip to Walnut Creek that particular day as unnecessary and therefore a tad annoying, and she wanted to either make it up to me or defend her homeland (assuming she lived there). Whatever her reason was, I did feel more positive about my trek, and that warm feeling stayed with me as I walked back to the garage.

Maybe Walnut Creek isn’t such a bad place. Dean Lesher’s once-tarnished reputation was rescued.

As a postscript, let me say that because it was not earned, I felt an obligation to give away the money I’d received. So when I attended a free Berkeley Broadway Singers’ concert later that afternoon, I dropped the bill in the basket being passed around to offset the cost of running the non-profit chorus. I figured there was a certain symmetry in there somewhere, connecting theater and music, Walnut Creek and Berkeley, and fixing a sour attitude.

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