People will do good things when they believe they can, when they see a need, and when they believe it will be appreciated. As I commented yesterday to grammahobbit, appreciation is an under-recognized human need; people will do a lot to get it.
Just so, I count how much fun I had this weekend by how well I filled a need, and how much appreciation I got for it.
For SFX this year, Daughter and I arrived at the Convention Center (CC) about 10:00 am Friday, and I asked whether she could do some volunteer work rather than just stand around. Since we weren't asking for another free ticket (she'd already bought hers online), Matt (person in charge of volunteers) said sure and gave her a t-shirt and volunteer ribbon. The first thing that needed doing was carrying the swag bags from the green room upstairs (up escalator) to the registration booth. The first 1300 registrants get a bag. The bags are tied together, 15 to a bunch, and each bunch weighs about 25 pounds, so it was a bit difficult, but I managed 3 trips before I had to call a halt. Then there were another 300 bags to put together for the after-party. With 5 volunteers, we arranged an assembly line and had it done shortly.
The next Friday task is to organize the line of thousands of people who are coming in. (59,000 tickets sold for the weekend.) They're allowed in in stages - to this point, then to this point, etc. so that things don't get out of hand. We try to get them to understand that the ticket they printed on their computer has to be exchanged for the 'real' ticket on the 600 level of the CC. Then at 12:30, the lines are taken down to the 800 level, with volunteers at the bottom of the escalators telling them that if they have the deluxe tickets they go there and if they have the VIP tickets they go over there.
Amazing how many people don't listen. Instead of waiting in their proper lines, they go up the other escalator to the 700 level where the panels will be. They sit in line for hours for their favorite star, then can't get into the room because they by-passed the process and don't have their hands stamped. One of the things I try to do early is go through those lines to find 'unstamped' people and tell them where to get their validation before their panel starts.
About 1:00, the volunteers will start validating the tickets. That is, we punch out the date on the side of the ticket and stamp their hands. It's the hand stamp that actually gets them into things during the day. The next day, the next date is punched out and another hand stamp given (in a different color, of course). We started doing this only a couple years ago. Before that, everyone had to get their ticket punched at the door, and people did miss panels because the process took so long. But at that time, people weren't being let in until 4:00 anyway, and panels start at 5:00. It's a whole lot more fair now (and I'm proud to say that I was in on developing the new system - in a small way). I think I was receiving special notice to be singled out to do the VIP line, and had another volunteer (Jane) assigned to work with me, doing the hand stamping.
It may sound like a boring thing, done by rote, but there is a lot more to it than meets the eye. If the two volunteers don't work together, paying attention each to what the other is doing, a ticket might get punched without the client getting their hand stamped, and officially they are then just out of luck for the day, since technically they could be trying to get in on someone else's already used ticket. So you have to pay attention. Second, everyone has already put their tickets into the plastic badge holders, and you have to get them all to take them out. This requires loudness, which I'm good at. I scream down the line for them to please remove their orange badges from the plastic and hand them to me when I get to them. Some still get it wrong. Some just aren't listening in the first place, and others try to hand me the wrong ticket (the extra VIP ticket or the red 'get in at 2:00' authorization). So obviously, it's important to be insistant but kind during the whole process, which takes the whole hour until 2:00, when the line starts moving. Jane caught on quickly even though it was her first year. They don't usually.
It's hardly surprising when you think about it, as most people do not, that the Fair requires the customers to go first into the dealer's room. The dealers are paying the lion's share of the bill, after all, in paying for their booths. If they don't do well, that's the end of SFX. So everyone must first go into the dealer hall (which is the same place that the Guests have their autographing booths). Another huge bug in the system comes in now, after 2:00, when people come in who were not waiting in line. There are fewer volunteers left in that area, and sometimes the customer gets missed and not told that they must go into the dealer's room. Then their ticket doesn't get punched nor their hand stamped, they go directly to a panel, and are refused entrance. Happens all the time, as hard as we try to stop it. And they consider it our fault for not telling them. We do try.
After 2:00, Daughter and I walked back to our hotel to register and unpack.
Sounds like a simple thing, right? Except that I had just shed the crutch a week ago, and this extra trip back to the hotel was really hard. I did walk down and back using both crutches - I wouldn't have made it otherwise, but this was the worst part of the weekend. Parking is $15 to $17 anywhere, with no in-and-out. We needed to park the car near the hotel, which was $3 last year, and they had raised it to $15 to cut the competition for their 4 slots. So I paid for Friday and Saturday, and we had to walk back and forth, because I couldn't very well pay the $17 at the CC also every day. At least I can say that I made it!
I had forgotten to change my shoes earlier, and the ones I was wearing were too hot, and crowded my toes, so that by the time I could change them, my toes were really hurting. The sandals I put on helped a lot, and I figured that it would be all right in a few hours. It wasn't.
We walked back down and went to some panels - Daughter to anime, and me to mostly Star Trek. Walter Koenig was introducing the Star Trek films that were being shown, which of course was interesting. Apparently there is an internet series called Star Trek New Frontiers, which is about the fourth year of the Enterprise voyages. It is officially approved by Paramount, so long as they don't take money for anything. They can't even raise money for charity with it. Anyway, WK was featured in one of these, because he felt he'd like to have something more important done with his character (Chekov, if you don't know) rather than the pointless "red-shirt" death from the first movie. He warned us that it wasn't 'canon'. It was entertaining though not great, WK being the only 'real' actor in it, and I regret missing his own panel to watch it. I hadn't really realized that was going to happen. I had in mind that I would work his line (help keep people in order, tell them what to expect, etc.), even though I knew that Leonard Nimoy (LN) was going to be there, because such big stars are 'sequestered' and only the staff get to work for them.
I watched another Star Trek show until 11:00 pm (my feet hurt too much to do much of anything else) while Daughter danced with the anime people, and then we walked 'home'. And it rained on us on the way. I'll laugh about that, sometime. Not yet.
To be continued ... here.