Probably every parent and teacher says over and over again through the years to children and students that life is not fair. And it is undoubtedly one of the truest statements ever made. Good people suffer. Bad people prosper. People who make stupid attack ads get elected. Women reduce their calorie count to starvation levels and lose only three pounds while their boyfriends give up beer for a week and lose ten. All we have to do is look around us on any given day and see massive evidence that life is not fair.
Yet we all still expect it. I pondered this contradiction just this morning as I went online at 10 a.m. to buy my U2 tickets for July’s Nashville concert. As far as I know, I did everything right. I hit the “buy tickets” button right at 10 a.m., but apparently taking the time to see where each price level would seat me was my undoing. Because when I went back in a minute later, there were no tickets. At any price.
Yet, at the same time that I was being turned down by Ticketmaster, Craig’s List and eBay were filling up with tickets-for-sale ads. It seemed unfair to me, and I have to admit that I spent more than a little time feeling quite sorry for myself that I would not get to the concert unless I was willing to dip into my retirement fund. By the time I’d finished moping, I was not only mad at those people who’d bought tickets only to turn around and sell them, Ticketmaster for not having the site set up so that I would have known immediately how each section was priced, but Bono as well, for not realizing that he might have some fans who couldn’t afford high-priced tickets but also weren’t comfortable standing for five hours in the midst of drunken revelers.
But then I finally just laughed at myself. As a former college instructor, I certainly have said my share of “life is not fair” to pleading students who partied too hard and forgot an assignment. And, after all, what grown person thinks there’s fairness in rock music and big business?
Basically, fairness is one of those constructs full of irony. Happiness can result from trying to be as fair as possible to those you see each day. But one sure way to make sure you’re never happy is to expect fairness from others, the universe, and rock concert ticket venues.