US Open: a tale of heat, sweat and masochists

Riding the elevator with my neighbor this morning, I was informed that today was going to be the hottest day of the year and I shouldn’t stay in the sun for too long. That’s a typical American thing. They don’t feel safe when it’s too hot outside. They don’t feel safe when it’s too cold, either. And when a thunderstorm is about to go off, they suddenly remember they are afraid of the rain. They don’t feel safe when it rains. When somebody farts on the subway, they immediately think that it’s a biological attack. The average American’s favorite state of affairs is the nothing-is-going-on state. But when nothing actually is going on, their mind eventually goes to: ‘brace yourself. It’s always calm before the storm…’

Armed with liquids, sunscreen and a single cookie, I departed for the faraway Flushing Meadows to, once again, take part in one of the four biggest tennis events in the world. US Open is not my favorite tournament, I much prefer the Parisian Slam, but I could never miss an opportunity to go see a game of this format. Especially since I went to the final last year and made the following promise on this very blog:

“Mark my words – I will never go to the US Open final until I manage to get the executive box tickets. I’m serious.”

I’m glad I kept my word. I won’t be going to the US Open final this year, since I simply couldn’t afford said tickets. What a trustworthy guy I am!

Nevertheless, I felt I deserved some executive tickets for the other games, so I purchased them, not yet realizing what a sucker move that was. But first things first.

On the way to the stadium, we pass a huge sphere. US Open’s symbol. It’s this fountain in which the public is NOT allowed to bathe in. Believe me. I wrote about it on my Instagram yesterday, disgruntled after a spat with a rather large policewoman.

On the way to the stadium, we pass a huge sphere. US Open’s symbol. It’s this fountain in which the public is NOT allowed to bathe in. Believe me. I wrote about it on my Instagram yesterday, disgruntled after a spat with a rather large policewoman.

The stadium looks very impressive from a distance. When you go there for your first time and have promenade tickets, however, you’ll be surprised to find out that you’d be much better off watching the stream of the game on your phone than trying to actually follow it live.

The stadium looks very impressive from a distance. When you go there for your first time and have promenade tickets, however, you’ll be surprised to find out that you’d be much better off watching the stream of the game on your phone than trying to actually follow it live.

Even before you walk into the venue, they’re already trying to rip you off by selling an event programme for 20 dollars, even though it’s free online and also available as an app.

Even before you walk into the venue, they’re already trying to rip you off by selling an event programme for 20 dollars, even though it’s free online and also available as an app.

doggie

I had a small backpack with me, but it was too big for security, so they asked me to unpack it and leave my weapons and drugs in their safe.

I had a small backpack with me, but it was too big for security, so they asked me to unpack it and leave my weapons and drugs in their safe.

I packed all of my earthly possessions into a plastic bag.

I packed all of my earthly possessions into a plastic bag.

The first match was scheduled to begin at 11am. I was baffled by the tiny number of people riding the subway to the stadium. Even more surprising was the lack of crowds around the venue. As I found out later on – only chumps arrive at 11am to watch the doubles’ games. How could I have known?

The first match was scheduled to begin at 11am. I was baffled by the tiny number of people riding the subway to the stadium. Even more surprising was the lack of crowds around the venue. As I found out later on – only chumps arrive at 11am to watch the doubles’ games. How could I have known?

The area is pretty large. Walking through the whole venue takes some time and there’s nothing interesting to look at. Maybe except for the the ridiculous price tags.

The area is pretty large. Walking through the whole venue takes some time and there’s nothing interesting to look at. Maybe except for the the ridiculous price tags.

I purchased a ticket to sit in the executive lounge. I paid over 200 dollars. That’s still 200 dollars cheaper than the tickets for last year’s final. The problem is that the executive box in America consists of a bunch of uncomfortable chairs situated slightly closer to the court. But not close enough to get excited about. I must have gotten tickets to the wrong box by accident. Around noon, the temperature approached 91 degrees, so I decided to go sit by the wall instead of suffering in the sun.

I purchased a ticket to sit in the executive lounge. I paid over 200 dollars. That’s still 200 dollars cheaper than the tickets for last year’s final. The problem is that the executive box in America consists of a bunch of uncomfortable chairs situated slightly closer to the court. But not close enough to get excited about. I must have gotten tickets to the wrong box by accident. Around noon, the temperature approached 91 degrees, so I decided to go sit by the wall instead of suffering in the sun.

Annoyed about my seat as well as the fact I was watching some anonymous doubles players even though the Williams sisters are scheduled to play on the second court any moment now, I asked myself a simple question. What would my buddy Andy do? Five seconds later, I was heading towards the second court. The entrance is big – there’s about a dozen ticket gates, all guarded by ticket inspectors. I knew they wouldn’t let me in, since I purchased tickets for the other court, where absolutely nothing was going on, so I decided to do what anybody else in my position would do. I waited for the right moment. After a while, the inspector left his post to help a woman on a wheelchair get through the gate. I strolled straight past the barrier like I owned the goddamn place. Not looking back, I arrived at the promenade and quietly sat down on an unoccupied chair by the court.

The view still wasn’t that great. After all, it was the Williams sisters.

The view still wasn’t that great. After all, it was the Williams sisters.

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crowd

Thirty minutes later, I was done. The sun was simply unbearable. I asked myself a question. What would Andy do?

 

 

 

I went to the top seats to seek asylum from the killer sun and I noticed the nooks under the stairs.

I went to the top seats to seek asylum from the killer sun and I noticed the nooks under the stairs.

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Pretty good view from here!

Pretty good view from here!

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Well, not all the time.

Well, not all the time.

But it was a good spot, overall. The view was decent and it allowed me to become a tourist attraction for all the sweaty piggies passing by, nodding their head with admiration. “Smart fella!”, “Good idea!”, “Wow!”, “Nice spot!” After a while, I had some company. Everywhere I looked, there were people sitting under the stairs. At first, the stewards tried to make us leave. I don’t know how other people reacted, but I had a black woman with a kid in my group and she kept yelling: “You want my boy to get heatstroke from the sun? DO YOU?!”

But it was a good spot, overall. The view was decent and it allowed me to become a tourist attraction for all the sweaty piggies passing by, nodding their head with admiration. “Smart fella!”, “Good idea!”, “Wow!”, “Nice spot!” After a while, I had some company. Everywhere I looked, there were people sitting under the stairs. At first, the stewards tried to make us leave. I don’t know how other people reacted, but I had a black woman with a kid in my group and she kept yelling: “You want my boy to get heatstroke from the sun? DO YOU?!”

Around 3pm, the long-awaited clouds started arriving. People left the bunkers.

Around 3pm, the long-awaited clouds started arriving. People left the bunkers.

Those who opted to stay in the sun this entire time ended up looking like this grandpa after the game ended. Go ahead, try to sit behind this.

Those who opted to stay in the sun this entire time ended up looking like this grandpa after the game ended. Go ahead, try to sit behind this.

My water supplies ran out before they even began, because my Powerade got boiled before I even arrived at the stadium. Fortunately, there’s quite a lot of shops around the court. All of them sell the same stuff: beer, coca-cola, tea.

My water supplies ran out before they even began, because my Powerade got boiled before I even arrived at the stadium. Fortunately, there’s quite a lot of shops around the court. All of them sell the same stuff: beer, coca-cola, tea.

Five dollars a pop.

Five dollars a pop.

Neat little idea, this charging station. It’s surprising nobody used it.

Neat little idea, this charging station. It’s surprising nobody used it.

Having bought the Powerbeats 2 a few days before, I had to get a portable charger. I bought this beauty for 50 dollars and it was worth every penny. Back in the day, I was supposed to endorse a certain company that manufactures such devices, but they wouldn’t let me criticize the lack of built-in cables in their model. I was adamant that I wasn’t going to praise a device so impractical it demands that you also carry around cables with you, defeating the whole purpose of the device. This charger has built-in cables you can just extract as necessary.

Having bought the Powerbeats 2 a few days before, I had to get a portable charger. I bought this beauty for 50 dollars and it was worth every penny. Back in the day, I was supposed to endorse a certain company that manufactures such devices, but they wouldn’t let me criticize the lack of built-in cables in their model. I was adamant that I wasn’t going to praise a device so impractical it demands that you also carry around cables with you, defeating the whole purpose of the device. This charger has built-in cables you can just extract as necessary.

gael

After witnessing the Williams sisters getting annihilated by two Ukrainian Russians in the span of two sets, I got back to my stadium to watch Gael Monfils play some dude named Dimitrov. The game was quick-paced and rather interesting, but I kept looking at all the celebrities sitting in their amazing, shade-covered seats with the best possible view of the court. I’ll be there, one day. Maybe not in a year, maybe not in two years. But I’ll be there. Those are my seats.

After witnessing the Williams sisters getting annihilated by two Ukrainian Russians in the span of two sets, I got back to my stadium to watch Gael Monfils play some dude named Dimitrov. The game was quick-paced and rather interesting, but I kept looking at all the celebrities sitting in their amazing, shade-covered seats with the best possible view of the court. I’ll be there, one day. Maybe not in a year, maybe not in two years. But I’ll be there. Those are my seats.

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I almost managed to catch Roger Federer’s match, scheduled for 7pm. He was the only tennis player I really wanted to see play live. I approach a steward who looked really bored with the event and kind of disappointed with his life. He told me that if I really want to stay, I could give it a shot, because while they are supposed to make the people with the Day Session tickets leave, they actually don’t interrogate every person that stays inside the venue. So, with a little bit of luck, I could stay until night time and see all the remaining matches.

However, I chose not to, since I was tired already and I’d have to wait a few more hours to get what I want. I’ll witness Roger playing some other time. From what I understand, he’s not retiring yet, even though he’s not going to win the final on Monday. I cursed him a few months back, proclaiming that he wasn’t going to win a Grand Slam tournament ever again. It’s a punishment for the way he’s been disappointing me these last few years.
I’m tempted to search for a cheap ticket for the Final online, but I think I need to chill out with the spending spree and start learning to save money. What if Apple suddenly releases a new iPhone I could cue up for and spend my last dollars on?

Today, I’m treating myself to a bit of laziness. It’s morning as I’m writing this and I’m noshing on some great sushi straight from a supermarket fridge, wondering where I should go to today. I’ll probably just leave the house, go straight ahead and, before I manage to find out where I am, discover that it’s getting dark already.

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