The Week the Earth Stood Still...
So you want to know what Gencon is like for those lucky few of us who work in the professional nerd industry? Here's a handy guide--it's almost like being there.
I. THE SETUP.
Dealer Hall opens for setup on Tuesday, but we're busy doing other things Tuesday. Wednesday, we could go in at 8, but some of us aren't up til 11, by which time Des has made some kind of English breakfast bread studded with about 4000 raisins. We eat a lot of raisins and bread. Then we load the car. Arrive at the convention center around 3. We have to be out by 8. We can't set up until boss arrives with new cushy flooring tiles, which require a trip to the hardware store, so wait while he goes. Wait. Look jealously at everyone else setting up faster and better than you. Gloat at card sellers whose product takes hours to deploy and weighs a ton. When boss arrives, set up entire booth and cushy floor in approximately 3 hours. Then go home and pack pre-release miniatures until after midnight.
II. DAY ONE: THE ONSLAUGHT.
Arrive 2 hours early to finish setting up. Finish just as doors open at 10. Watch as onrush of thousands (no, really--thousands) of gamers flows into the dealer hall and up the aisles like a demonstration on the capillary system at the science museum. Talk, and stand, constantly from 10 am to 6 pm when hall closes. Answer the same questions hundreds of times. Meet lots of nice people. Marvel at the weirdos. Have dinner with your friend from out of town who you almost never see; get home around midnight.
III. DAYS TWO-FOUR.
Much of the same, only less money changes hands and the weirdos get weirder. Manage to leave booth for over an hour on Saturday afternoon. Get called back by boss. Rush to office supply store en route to con center on two different mornings. Never get up after 7 am. Never go to bed before midnight or one. Never sit down for more than 5 minutes at a clip. Participate in one--and only one!--Gencon event for fun, at 1 in the morning when you're rapidly losing coherance. Wake in the morning with vague memories of having had a good time.
IV. THE TAKEDOWN.
Dismantle entire booth, in a relatively organized fashion, in 1.5 hours. Discover that 400 booths trying to break down between 4 and 8 pm means that the line to get into the loading area is 3 blocks long. Go out for dinner. Come back and find that the line is now 5 blocks long. Park illegally, and carry all booth items out the front doors of the convention center, in 85 degree heat. Unload contents of truck and cars at boss' house. Try to go home, and find that transmission has gone out on my 10 year old Saturn. Contemplate suicide. Enlist help of coworker to push car out of driveway, and drive home using a limited number of gears. Go home...and thank god it's over.