Horses with No Names series – A Guy Named Phil –by Linda Knight Seccaspina


Each year for 15 years I used to take a trip across America. Sometimes it was the Greyhound Bus, and then sometimes a train. Here is a story about one of those trips.

August 2012

After existing on Snicker bars aboard the Amtrak Zephyr for three consecutive days I decided to splurge and eat breakfast in the dining car on the very last day of my journey. I had been awake for hours, unable to sleep on a constantly moving train. At 6 am I was perched upon the closest chair I could get next to the car that smelled of eggs, bacon and all things good. The dining car did not open up until 6:30 and by 6:25 the lounge car was filled with a mix of people with ravenous appetites.

Finally the doors opened and we all filed in ready to take any available spot. The staff of Amtrak seats everyone family style and you never know who you are going to sit with. However, at this point I was so hungry I would have dined with Smokey the Bear. I sat at a table with an elderly couple from California and a middle aged man that looked a lot like Joe Cocker. We talked easily, sharing funny stories and I just knew the Cocker look-alike next to me had a story to tell. The elderly couple asked “Joe” what he did and he simply said,

“I go to concerts!”

No one just goes to concerts and with my memories of the 60s soon tales of Woodstock number 1 and number 2 circulated the table. With a mouthful of bacon he broke out into Joni Mitchell’s song about Woodstock while we passed the biscuits around.

Breakfast was soon over and anyone who has met me knows that I’m not going to let an interesting story get away without a fight. “Joe” and I  introduced ourselves and I have no idea if he gave me his real name, but this chap who called himself Phil was ready to talk. 

The reason he had gone to so many concerts was that he was what we call a professional ticket scalper. He used to make a lot of money, but sinceTicketmaster had released new technology he doesn’t make as much money as he used to. The change implemented in 2011 makes it harder for anyone to send prices soaring by buying up all the best tickets and reselling them at substantial profit.

What’s the difference whether you overpay a “scalper” or Ticketmaster? Ticketmaster figures if anybody is going to profit off of overpriced tickets it should be them. Seems more like Ticketmaster is trying to monopolize the scalping rather than get rid of it. But hey that’s my opinion, and not that of the newspaper oranyone near and dear to my heart.

Phil had been arrested once for selling 10 dollar Laker’s tickets in Los Angeles (he says they were really bad seats) and after paying $500 in fines he has never been back to the City of Angels. He still looks after and lives with his 91-year-old mother who thinks he is a roadie for the original members of the Lynyrd Skynyrd band. I understood how his mother must have been thrilled, because if you were born in Georgia like Phil was, well, it’s like being in the Rolling Stones.

Running his hands through his short curly hair he tells me he wishes he had jumped into this profession decades ago. Phil travels around on the train with his sleeping bag and buys tickets from people who have extra ones from concert-goers whose friends have flaked out. He does not turn down anything but definitely shies away from opera. When I asked him why; he looked at me straight in the eye and said,

“Who would buy a ticket from me for an event like that looking the way I do? If I have tickets left over they might end up sitting next to me.”

We both agreed that things have changed way too much and I told him I envied his life. He smiled, looked at me and said I could have that life too; I just had to take the Last Train to Clarksville and he’d meet me at the station.

Horses with No Names- The People’s Father Christmas

Just Another Day in Paradise

The Lady Who Sang the Blues-Time Travel

The Harry Potter Boy

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 9

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 8

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 7

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 6

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 5

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 4

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 3

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 2

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past Part 1

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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