What Do You Send As a Thank You Gift When Someone Gives You a $700 Present You Don’t Care About?

Posted on April 23, 2011


A neighbor who I’ve waved at once a month for the last three years but whose last name I still don’t know approached and asked if I had plans for the following Sunday.  My I’m-about-to-be-asked-to-an-all-day-BBQ-with-people-I-don’t-know radar went off, and I answered as vaguely as possible, “My wife has something she’s excited about maybe doing in the afternoon.  She’s been looking forward to that something for quite a while, but she’s worried it might get moved to the morning.  Tell me what you want to invite me to, so I can decide what time my wife has plans.  And after I tell you we can’t come, remember that schedules constantly change, so don’t be offended if you see us out in our yard at the time we said we wouldn’t be home.”

Turns out he had tickets to the F1 motor race and couldn’t go.  Without waiting for an answer as to whether I was interested, he casually handed me the tickets and walked away.

I’m not especially interested in racing, but my city has an F1 track, and I always planned to go at least once, buying the very cheapest tickets possible.  Imagine my surprise when I examined the two tickets and saw they had a combined face value of $700.  What do you get as a thank you gift for somebody who gives you $700 tickets for an event you’re not interested in?

Some impressions of my day at the races:

At no point in fifty-six laps did I know who was winning.  We were seated on the 17th row immediately at the starting line with a clear view of two giant TVs showing the broadcast coverage of the race.  I watched the names and race rankings change on the giant TVs.  I watched every car, every lap.  I asked questions of the people around me, but I could never match the cars going by with any kind of race order.

I told my wife we had to dress a little nicer because these were $700 tickets, and I assumed the people we sat with would be the cream of society and would snub their noses at the bathrobe my wife usually wears out.  “But what if I wear my sequined bathrobe?” she protested, forcing me to put my foot down.  I wore a buttoned shirt and slacks, and my wife wore a sundress, and we were far and away the best-dressed couple, and the only ones not wearing jeans and a t-shirt.  As a matter of fact, I may have been the only one out of 200,000 people with my shirt tucked in.

Because the tickets were so expensive, I probably paid more attention to the behavior of the people around me than I would at another sporting event.  I found myself fascinated by people sitting in $350 seats, but who had zero interest in the race.  One man lay down and slept for most of the race, taking up three seats.

A fifteen year old girl in front of me did math homework the entire race.

What's the square root of wasting a $350 ticket?

Two girls on my left were playing video games.

It would be funny if she were playing a race car video game.

Sad to think there are kids in Africa who will never get to see an F1 race while these kids wasted the F1 race right in front of them.

In my section I counted eleven people who held up video cameras and recorded the whole race.  I’ve seen people do this at other sporting events as well, and I can’t understand the motivation to record a shaky, lower quality version of an event already shown on TV.  Do these people think their shaky handheld camera will produce higher quality footage than the professionals?  Or do they plan to watch and re-watch the footage at home so they can relive every moment of the event they missed the first time because they were so busy recording it?

Most people stood for the entire two hour race.  I’m not sure why this was necessary.  I tried shouting, “If we all sit down, nobody has to stand up,” but nobody could hear me because they were wearing ear plugs.

Here’s a joke nobody thought was funny: Did you see how fast that car was going?

Any suggestions for a thank you gift to give my neighbor?
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Posted in: Columns