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The Concert
by Teresa Gauthier

“Claire, are you free this evening?” Claire could hear the excitement in Roberta’s voice, as soon as she answered the phone.

“We have a chance to see the Eagles, in concert, at the Climate Pledge Arena, and” Roberta paused for effect, “for free!”

“Wait. Do you mean the band, the Eagles? Not the flying kind? Are you kidding me? Tell me!”

“The band has stipulated that only vaccinated persons can attend. My neighbors know the organizers and they asked me to volunteer to check vaccine status. We need another person. We have to be there two hours before the concert, stand at the entrance, and check the paperwork. It should be easy. We will be outside, so dress warmly. Of course, it could rain, but we will be under a tent.” Roberta went on to say that they would get free parking and guaranteed seats, somewhere in the Arena. Roberta was delighted to be picked up at 4 p.m.


They joined 6 other checkers at the Arena. They were to verify the COVID vaccination records with the ID. No exceptions, anyone who was not fully vaccinated, even with an exemption letter, could not enter and was to be directed to the administration office.

Concertgoers started gathering early. Each checker had a lane outside the entrance to the arena. Roberta and Claire had the two lanes at one end. The drizzle had started and Claire yelled to Roberta. “Where is that tent that they told you about?” Roberta shrugged as they both got to work. In the beginning, before the swell, checking the documents was easy and people were friendly and excited. It was November 2021 and this was one of the first big musical events in Seattle since the mask mandate had been lifted a few months before. Spirits were high.

After a short time, the rain rolled in, softly at first, but enough to make the ticket holders lean forward a little more in hopes of getting inside quicker. Both women were checking diligently. They were nurses and took their duties seriously. They assumed the other checkers would be as particular. As the start time approached and as the rain increased Claire noticed that the earlier, easygoing attitudes were changing. Persons were still polite but seemed a little edgy. She tried to check carefully, but it became increasingly difficult as vaccination cards and licenses were thrust at her. “Please, one at a time and please keep your documents together” she implored. Everyone was getting very wet. She did her best to be thorough, while at the same time shielding the vaccine cards, as ink was starting to run. She kept the crowd moving and saw at a glance that Roberta beside her was doing okay as well. She couldn’t tell what was happening in the other lanes.

One man, wearing a bright red rain jacket and a ball cap emblazoned with “Make America Great Again” approached Claire in a friendly manner. He flicked a letter-sized paper at her. “Hello. I have an exception letter. You can just let us in.”

“Sir”, Claire responded, “ If you don’t have proof of vaccination, I have to ask you to go around that side to the administration office. “

The man’s smile disappeared and he suddenly seemed to grow taller. He said in a louder voice, “The website said that proof of exception was acceptable!”

“Sir, I am sure that is true, but first, you need to go to the Administration Office.” Claire heard her own voice rise an octave or two and she felt her heart start to thump. The man loomed over her and began waving the paper in her face. She drew herself up and threw her arms out wide, “Sir, I have asked you to follow the mandate I was given.” Other patrons, observing the scene drew back. The man was not dissuaded and advanced towards her, in a menacing manner. Glancing at the lengthening line she shoved her hand toward the man’s face and firmly ordered, “Just stop! Stand to the side, and wait”. Backing up slowly, she stuck her head inside the door and asked the ticket collector for assistance. Shortly after this, the man and his party were escorted inside the arena by a security guard.

Giving an exasperated sigh, Claire shrugged and turned back to checking and verifying cards as quickly as possible. She got many sympathetic smiles from the remaining patrons. Roberta waved over some of the attendees to her line. Claire noted that the other checkers had all disappeared, leaving just herself and Roberta. The concert had already started. Concertgoers continued to trickle in. Finally, a ticket collector from inside came out, telling them he would handle the rest.

Roberta asked, “What did we miss?”

“Just the opening song, Hotel California,” said another ticket collector.

“Oh, darn. That is my favorite song” groaned Claire. She spluttered, “That nasty man, that, that wank, pardon my expression, is in there. He’s the one that made us late.”

“Best to let it go, Claire. Come on, let's find these seats.” Roberta led the way to box seats, just to the side and within a few feet of the stage. They couldn’t believe their good luck and they gave each other a high five and waved at the band. Soon they were dancing and singing, forgetting the missed song.

During the intermission, Claire heard some raised voices. She saw several burly security guards forcefully escorting a man down the aisle toward the exit. He was gesturing and swearing loudly. She was sure she spied a red jacket and a baseball cap, now askew.

Claire grinned, “Well, Roberta, I think tonight America has been made great again”

Chuckling, the women headed back to their private booth. Roberta heard Claire humming, then singing, “You can check in any time you like but you can never stay!”

The Concert by Teresa Gauthier
Copyright October, 2023- All Rights Reserved