Houston, We Might Have a Problem

“Trouble in paradise?” asked my friend Kim, who had recently started to work with me on some new graphics for the two Rick Springfield fan websites.  We were chatting on the phone while I nursed Michael and Melinda played with toys on the floor of the family room.  The room was an absolute wreck with things tossed about all over the floor, but at least my two year old girlie was occupied so I could chat.

“It’s getting kind of strange,” I answered.  “The other two may kill each other before this is all said and done.”

I was referring to Vivian and Elizabeth, my two cohorts on the Rick Springfield front.  To the fans we were “Team Rick”, a trifecta of women who had varying skills and abilities that each performed specific tasks to keep them all happy and informed of Rick’s doings in the entertainment world.   Our newest venture was ticket presales for the fan club members.  Elizabeth had done one or two just in her own area through people she knew, buying a big block of tickets and then selling them off to fan club members.  It was a perk that instantly paid off in terms of increased membership in the club, so Vivian encouraged her to pursue the venture in as many venues as possible.

Elizabeth was thrilled about the new aspect to her role in our triangle.  Unfortunately, privately, Vivian worried that Elizabeth was starting to get too arrogant and cocky with her newfound role.  She didn’t like that fans started asking Elizabeth questions about the fan club when Vivian was the person running the club; tension abounded between the two of them, and all day long I was fielding calls from one complaining about the other.  And I couldn’t really disagree with either of their complaints; one the one hand, Elizabeth did like a bit too much her power in deciding who got which great seats; alternatively, I did feel that Vivian was becoming a bit too sensitive about Elizabeth.  She was working hard and doing a good job, I reasoned; Vivian shouldn’t be as insecure as she was.  But she was.

“You know, I had a question, actually,” Kim said, while we were on the subject.  “I’m not taking a side here or anything, but how on Earth did she get away with selling those Chicago tickets for $55 to the fan club.  You know they only cost her $45 per ticket.”

I gasped.  That had better not be true.  Fans were always scouring every move the three of us made looking for mistakes, trying to see if one of us would get fired and they could take our places.  Everyone knew the three of us were just regular fans who had risen up through luck and splinter skills.  They were all trying anything they could to get a similar gig; one of the fans went to ten shows a month taking photographs, and giving all of them to Rick for use on merchandise.   Others were designing fan websites that challenged and rivaled my own, all of the time.  They were coming up with ideas for live broadcasts, charity drives, anything at all that would tug at Rick’s heartstrings or make him notice their work.  If a fan could prove that Elizabeth had overcharged for the tickets she sold and pocketed the rest, Vivian would be furious and Rick would be hardpressed to defend her.

“That can’t be true.  I mean, I know she does charge a surcharge to cover the processing through PayPal, but it can’t be $10 a ticket.  Maybe $1 a ticket.”

“If she sold 50 tickets, that means she pocketed $400 or so on the sale.”  I pondered Kim’s words.  Kim had been working with us for a while; she was part of our group that new the girl who died on 9/11.  She had been working with several fan groups before we’d started using some of her work on the websites.  So far she hadn’t seemed to want any recognition or special favors in return; she genuinely seemed excited by the work of creating something new.  I’d always felt the same and that was part of what led me to trust her more than I would if this story had come from just about anyone else.

“I’ll see if I can find out the bottom line.  I mean, all I have to do is go back through our online archives to see what she charged per ticket.  You’re sure they cost $45?”

“That’s what I paid for my own,” she replied.  “I didn’t go through the fan club sale because of the timing; I was pretty sure I could do better on my own.”

“Well, I appreciate the head’s up.  If this is true, then Houston, we have a problem.”

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