I return to Burning Man for the 11th time this year. Maybe. The ticketing process for Burning Man is like a Mad Hatter’s tea party. I described it in a blog last week. But supposedly, if I got all of my jackrabbits in a row, and if I signed in within three seconds of the time the ticket window opened, the odds were good I would get a ticket.
I met all of the requirements. I suspect if BM had demanded that I had to pat my head and rub my belly while simultaneously hitting the ticket button, I would have figured out a way to do it— maybe with my nose. I like Burning Man that much. As it was, I redid my profile, registered, updated my Ticket-fly account, and got my magic number from Burning Man: WWBK2FVF. Peggy did the same thing. We would double our chances.
And there we were at 12-noon today. I had checked in at timeanddate.com PST and made sure my computer clock was coordinated to the second on Pacific Standard Time. With my finger poised at my computer and Peggy at hers, I did the ten-second countdown from 11:59:50. 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1-0! When I hit zero, both of our fingers made a mad dash for enter. How long did it take? A hundredth of a second, certainly no longer than a tenth.
I immediately got a message. I was in the cue and would get to the purchase site in two minutes. Woohoo! If ever there was a guarantee, I had it. Peggy wasn’t quite so lucky. She would get in within an hour. That was strange. Then even stranger things started happening, really strange things. A little music from the Twilight Zone TV series of yore might be appropriate. “Neenner, neenner, neenner, neenner.”
Suddenly my wait time jumped to 45 minutes! Where had I gained 43 minutes? How had 30,000 people, or so, suddenly jumped in front of me? Were there algorithms attached to my number that said I had been enough times, that I had had enough of a good thing? I had read that it was best to sign up as a virgin, a first timer. Had I been too honest, too transparent? But I was a stoic, right up there with Zeno the Greek Philosopher. I resigned myself to wait the 45 minutes. The countdown continued,
I made it to 19 minutes or so. Zap! I was put on hold. Why? “Why?” I screamed at my computer. Peggy had told me she didn’t need to hear any fowl language. “Cluck, cluck, cluck!” I was about to have a massive heart attack, a coronary. Could I sue Burning Man? After 10 minutes the site came back up. My wait time was an hour plus. Eventually, it worked its way down, after jumping back and forth between more minutes and less. And then finally, I got a message; I was in— except being in meant waiting another ten minutes. Again, no explanation. Finally, the site came up. Did I want two tickets or one: two. Did I need a vehicle pass? Yes. Did I want to contribute another $40 to Burning Man? After all of this— no I didn’t.
I hit the submit button. No tickets are available, I was told. And there was no vehicle pass. But I was still welcome to contribute $40 to Burning Man. Thirty minutes later, Peggy was told there were no tickets. She, too, had the opportunity to contribute $40.
So, once again I had participated in the fiasco known as the Burning Man ticket sign-up and once again I sit here with no tickets. I will probably get tickets, but still, Burning Man owes me an explanation for its weird behavior. I am not holding my breath.