City Guide 2008 | Get Oriented: Free for All | City Guide | Salt Lake City Weekly

City Guide 2008 | Get Oriented: Free for All 

How to live the good life when you have nothing left to lose.

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If there’s a point in your financial life when cheap still isn’t making financial sense, then welcome to my club. There is no price to join.

My friend Kristen and I were going through our finances. It didn’t take very long. We were both broke. Looking at my bank account, even if she’d loaned me $5, I wouldn’t have to carry a one to the 10s column. When someone approached me on the street and asked for spare change, I immediately looked down, hoping they’d dropped one of the coins they’d collected. Talk about trickle-down economics.

“So,” Kristen asked, “what are we going to do?”

My great grandmother had a saying, “We may be poor, but we will never look poor.”

I said, “We’re going to watch the Utah Jazz play tonight. I’ll pick you at 8 p.m.”

“We can’t afford that,” she said. “Besides, the game starts at 7 p.m.”


I was late picking her up, but it didn’t matter. The point was to be late. It was easy to find a free parking spot on the street because we’d avoided the rush by not being a part of the crowd.

“Where would you like to sit?” I asked.

“Wherever our tickets say we should.”

I suppose I should have explained to her on the way to the game that I didn’t have tickets, because we couldn’t afford tickets. But why complicate things? We didn’t walk up to the ticket window or hassle with the ticket scalpers; we just sat on one of the planter boxes and waited for a family to leave the EnergySolutions Center. One of their kids was crying, and they had to leave the game early.

In Utah, kids are your biggest asset in getting into a game. One bad, whiney brat will send even the most patient parent running for the exit door at halftime. But, when I asked for their ticket stubs so we could get into the second half, like a lot of families, they had upper bowl seats. I wished them a good night and then waited until a well-dressed, middle-age couple came walking out of the game.

They thought it was a little unconventional to give away their ticket stubs. However, they had places to go and people to meet, and soon, we were sitting in their 20th-row seats.

If ESPN had a highlight reel for ticket-stub grubbing, my biggest score was getting third-row seats at halftime during a playoff game.

And it’s not just Jazz games. Imagine how many husbands or boyfriends go to an opera or a ballet thinking, “I’ll do anything for love.” Then during intermission say, “But I won’t do that.”

By waiting patiently and dressing appropriately, you’ll find you can get into the second half of nearly any sporting, concert or drama event. It also helps to have a pack of cigarettes in your coat. So, when you walk through the door with half-torn ticket stubs, you just hold up the cigarette box and say, “We stepped out for a smoke.”

If, like Kristen, you find ticket-stub grubbing a bit embarrassing, then you can still enjoy the finer things of life for free.

Go to the library. This place not only gives books away for free but also displays artwork for free. Look for flyers about upcoming exhibits. Most art shows run for a few weeks, but libraries and art galleries often host “reception” nights. Even a starving artist likes to feed their friends who show up to look at painted daisies.

I went to a reception at the Sweet Branch library in the Avenues neighborhorhood. Not only did I walk away with free chocolate-covered strawberries from Hatch Family Chocolates and a greater appreciation of Jamaica Trinnaman’s paintings, but I was given a tray of vegetables that would have rotted if I weren’t there supporting the arts.

The Utah Museum of Natural History doesn’t give away free food but the first Monday of each month, admission is free.

During the summer, nearly every plot of open grass has a free concert, event or farmers market. It’s getting to the point that I expect people to come to my back yard when the tomatoes ripen. Pioneer Park, Brigham Young Historic Park, the Gallivan Center and Tracy Aviary all hold free outdoor concerts. And, if you want to see a movie, go to Brewvies, where the last film shown every Tuesday night is, you guessed it, free.

Free is the key, and free will set you free.

Phil Jacobsen writes the Cheap Shot column for City Weekly.
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Phil Jacobsen

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