the one and only truly amazing katster (katster) wrote,
the one and only truly amazing katster

Westercon, Day 2 (part the first)

Previously at Westercon...

After a night in which I tossed and turned on the floor, trying to find the most comfortable position for sleeping, I poked my head up and looked blearily at my cellphone. It was just about time for the alarm to go off, so I got up, put on clean clothes, and tried to get my frizzy hair to stay down. (This is why I rarely shower just before bed. Going to bed with a wet head means unruly hair in the morning.) Finally, got myself together and presented myself out in the main room of the gofer hole, where I was put on shift as a on-call gofer until my first stint of sitting in front of doors happened. I had about three hours to kill. Ernie was putting the final touches on his gofer spreadsheet to track our hours. Chaos and Steven were in the middle of a game of Space Munchkin. I pulled a granola bar out of my bag, nibbled on it, and watched Chaos and Steven play while waiting for a call.

A call came, and Gofer #1 (who, coincidentally, was also Steven -- I will try to remember to refer to this one as Number One, although, sadly, he had never seen The Prisoner, and thus wouldn't get the ref...) and I went to return a whiteboard to con storage. This is the sort of thing gofers do. It was quickly accomplished, and I found myself back in the hole just in time for Cruz (one of the major constaff people) to poke his head in and say that he desperately needed bodies. Number One and I were still on duty, and so we got shanghai'd into one of the more interesting gofer calls I had over the course of the con.

You see, certain Jewish ceremonies require a number of bodies to be present -- nine, in specific. And it was early morning before the start of the con on Saturday, and the number of people in attendance was not nine. Thus the need for bodies to make nine. There were two of us in the hole, and two guys pulled from the Gaming Room to make nine, and a small ceremony was held, which I didn't grasp much of because I don't speak Hebrew, and then the non-Jews in the room were dismissed so that we could get back to the other things we needed to be doing. (We were told we could stay if we wanted to, and I sorta wanted to -- religious observances fascinate me, but there was work for a gofer to be doing. I'm sure similar Sabbath services are going to be held at Baycon, so I may drop in.) For the small duty of being a body in a room, I was given my first ribbon of the con.

Shortly thereafter, my first duty as a gofer presented itself. I was placed in front of the dealer's room and told to make sure that everybody going into the room had a badge. (I understand that there are cons that do not require a badge to go in the dealer's room. That was another neat thing, learning that there were things that Baycon (and by extension, this Westercon, as they were ran by mostly the same people) do that other cons don't. It's a small reminder that a one size fits all mentality won't get you very far in the world of conrunning. It was the first time the Dealer's Room had opened since con began and people were anxious to get in. So the first few minutes of my duty was spent keeping people out.

Gofers do a lot of door-guarding. I spent large chunks of time either in front of the dealer's room or the art show, just sitting there. The thing is, you're checking for badges, so it's not like it's hard. (When you're doing the art show, you're also keeping an eye out for food, drinks, and cameras, but it's mostly badges.) A lot of gophers sit there reading, checking for badges out of the corner of their eye. This is how I decided to approach it, but for my first shift on door, the book never came out. There was a big reason for this: it was the first time many con-goers had set their eye on the San Mateo Winchester Hotel.

Now once you came to grasps with the fact that the second floor function space tied in with the third floor sleeping space, it became much easier to navigate, but I spent a large chunk of my first day at Baycon stumbling around trying to grasp where everything was, and so I understood just how confused everything was. And here I was, sitting in front of the dealer's room, wearing an official convention gofer ribbon, and people were happy to see the friendly face. And I was able to help most of them out -- the hotel, in its infinite wisdom, decided to rename all their function space rooms with corporate buzzwords -- so we had Convene (the main ballroom), Synergy 1 through Synergy 5, and then another couple corporate buzzspeak words that start with C. At least Westercon, being smaller than Baycon, didn't have the one function room on the second floor sleeping area which *really* drove everybody crazy. (However, ConOps was there, so there were still a few people who were confused by "no, go down this elevator, make a left, walk to the next elevator and go up to the second floor" instructions.)

I also was asked to occasionally watch things. One of the first things I was asked to watch was a laptop bag (well, at least, I think it was a laptop bag, it could have been a briefcase) while its owner went in to see if anybody was carrying his books. Now, given that phrasing, the guy had to be an author, and I wanted to make sure the bag got back to its proper owner, so I glanced at his badge and nearly doubletook. The bag's owner was Howard Hendrix, a name I had only heard in connection with the infamous 'technopeasant' rant he authored a few months back. Over the course of the con, I got into two or three conversations with him, and well, it provided me a reminder that while words are important and carry impact, judging somebody simply on the basis of one post of words is probably not cool. So...I should really pick up some of the guy's books sometime and see if they work for me.

That said, it wasn't so bad. It was at this point that I realized gofers had people talking to them, and I managed to acquire two ribbons just by sitting in front of that door. One was from the massage person in the dealer's room. When he didn't have customers, he ran around massaging people's right hands in an attempt to drum up business. And after he finishes, he hands you a ribbon. Appropriately, it reads, "I got my evil free sample." He's got a second ribbon for people that actually buy his services, that reads "I got rubbed the right way.") The other one was an LJ ribbon which I asked johno for. It comes complete with space to write in your own LJ name, and once I got in proximity to a Sharpie marker, my LJ name was duly added.

When my door shift ended, I called Chaos to let her know I was shifting, and ran downstairs to Reg, where I found that while they had requested two gofers, they were only in need of one. So I went back to the hole to report this, and went back on call. Chaos and I realized that I had a cellphone, so wandering around con with my cellphone on in case a gofer was desperately needed was probably a pretty good way of being an on-call gofer.

After we had come to this agreement, I went back down into the con function space. I had two errands I wanted to run. The first was dead easy. At Baycon, I'd found the fantables and got into conversation with the folks who were promoting Montreal's 2009 Worldcon bid. One thing lead to another and I ended up becoming a supporter of said bid at Baycon, hence the "Anticipation" sticker on my Baycon badge. I wanted a matching one on my Westercon badge. Also, after Baycon, I had discovered that the guy who was rather knowledgeable about Worldcon procedure (and was very patient explaining it to a complete n00b), had an LJ, and I had ended up friending it, and I wanted to let him know that I had done so. So I went over there, picked up a new sticker, and thanked kevin_standlee for both being patient with me at Baycon and being interesting. :)

That mission accomplished, I wandered down to the dealer's room to poke through what was there -- I'd seen it briefly sitting outside the door, but actually being able to poke around was a different story. After poking around and pretty much seeing that the book I'd been hunting for -- the only Hugo-nominated novel I hadn't been able to get my hands on -- didn't seem to be present in anybody's area, I decided to ask somebody if they had it.

That somebody was Tom Whitmore. Now Tom is a co-owner of my absolute favorite store in Berkeley, a wonderful science-fiction bookstore called Other Change of Hobbit. (Tom is also going to be the Fan GoH at Denvention 3, the Denver Worldcon, if there's a few of you scratching your heads going "I know I've heard that name before...") Anyway, I approach him and tell him what I'm looking for (and despite only remembering the title, Blindsight, he knew what I was talking about). He nods and tells me that he doesn't have a copy here, but he'd be going back to the store that night and would get a copy from the shelf for me. Was I okay that it was hardback? I said, sure, that was fine. He wrote it down on the back of his sales pad and told me to check back with him tomorrow. There's reasons I love OCOH, and that's a large chunk of it right there.

But my time was short, and soon I had to report to the info desk. This was another 'sit there and wait' sort of duty, but it was pleasant, for I got to talk with the folks who were working the booth as convention staff. I had been admiring a ribbon on other people's badges about using the Other Other elevator, and I finally got up the courage to ask somebody where they had gotten it. They said "from Kitty." Now, it turns out that Kitty was one of the folks I was working info desk with (in fact, she was in charge of the info desk), and there's a story here. But while we were waiting for Kitty to return, somebody else walked up and asked me for a skill I'd learned in third grade -- how to fingerspell.

I hadn't forgotten. I was pretty impressed with myself, and he gave me another ribbon to add to my con badge for my troubles.

And there is more to tell about what happened on Day Two, but needless to say, I am tired, and need to be up in the morning, so I will put this away and continue the tale tomorrow. I know there's a lot here, but a lot happened, and I want to try to remember it all.
Tags: con report, westercon, westercon60

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