Presenting: Malcolm Gladwell

Ariel and I calculated that 11:00 Monday morning was our best chance to avoid the crowdsgladwell at Costco.

As we zipped over—no traffic either—the big sign on the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center read: Distinguished Speaker series: Malcolm Gladwell, tonight at 8:00.

I love Malcolm Gladwell. I read the The Tipping Point, and Blink and Outliers, and all of the others. On Wednesdays when the New Yorker arrives, I scan the table of contents and if Malcolm Gladwell has a piece, I settle right in. Dinner preparation be damned.

But of course I don’t have a ticket. It’s tonight. And I know you can’t buy single tickets, only subscriptions, to the Distinguished Speakers series.

All day Malcolm Gladwell rattles around in my head like a little pebble in my shoe. How am I going to work this out? I look on the website and there is a link for people who want to buy or sell tickets. But it’s tonight and people are offering tickets for events in March. March? Really??

So after dinner—one of those Costco chickens that has enough salt curdle the blood—I put on some dressy duds and drive over. Maybe it’ll work out. I’ve been known to give away a last minute ticket on the spot. Who knows? I make sure to have cash with me.

“Does anyone have an extra ticket?” I call out near the doors, loud enough to be heard, not loud enough to be obnoxious.

“No.” The folks lingering outside are waiting for their seatmates of course.

And the ticket takers are at the doors to the lobby, no chance to try a “will call” window inside.

So I go up to the end door and ask the female ticket taker, “do you know if there’s any way I might be able to find a ticket to buy?”


The please-take-your-seat bell dings and I try to think what else I can try.

“You need a ticket?” asks the man working the other side of the door.


He hands me a ticket.

Just like that.

Section 3, row FF, seat 42. I feel a little like Willy Wonka. I make my way through the crowd and here I am.

My seat is right next to my friend April Wayland.

Her husband couldn’t make it so she left her ticket with the guy at the door in case someone could use it. “Isn’t it amazing how the universe worked this one out?” said April.

And it wasn’t even Thanksgiving.

Or maybe it was.



About Karen Ray

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