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Lessons of a BayCon Gofer: Ribbons & Tags

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Sunday was the last full day of BayCon 2014, and it was full indeed. (BayCon 2015‘s will be even more crammed, with no Monday to work with.)

At this particular con, if you put in a certain number of Gofering hours, you’re awarded free membership for the following year. It hadn’t been my original goal, but when I checked in Sunday noonish after Quidditch,

The Quidditch Field

The Quidditch Field, Courtesy of the Silicon Valley Skyfighters

I could see my stats were high enough that the free-membership category was within reach. But it would take some decent planning now, as there were a few Important Items for myself on the program for Sunday.  And not so many demands for Gofers.

But then, late in the afternoon, there was a call for help on badge checking. This is the extremely arduous task of sitting in a folding chair at the entry to the Convention Center hall leading to the art show, vendors, and the big room for boffers & sword-fighting & large-audience programs, and making sure all the people going by have BayCon badges. No worries. These are not teensy “Hello” stickers. It’s not often you have to actually make someone stop so you can see their badge. They’re big enough, color-coded, with an easily-recognized logo-du-con. But wait—there’s more— most folks have badges that you would be hard-pressed to miss. Eh, what? Well, here’s my badge after Friday.

One Day's Worth of Badge Ribbons

One Day’s Worth of Badge Ribbons

And there’s my badge at the end of Saturday.

Two Days Worth of Badge Ribbons

Two Days’ Worth of Badge Ribbons

 

And did I hear “Sunday”?

Three Days Worth of Badge Ribbons

Three Days’ Worth of Badge Ribbons

Yep, it’s the ribbon thing. Collecting badge ribbons is a project of pride for many convention denizens, so even if you have to stop someone to check their badge, you can sideline a prickly reaction with an appeal to check out their ribbons. Or an offer to share one of your own ribbons. You do have ribbons, don’t you? Find me at BayCon 2015 & you can have one of mine. They’re rainbow, and purple, and shiny.

Another bonus to the badge checking job, at least at the convention center hallway spot, is that it’s a super-fine spot to view cosplayers on the move. I had a partner on the job, so I was also able to talk to a few cosplayers and ask for photos. A few were even up for a ribbon swap as well.   My own costuming skills go no further than fun & funky outfits for Halloween, so I’m a huge fan of the skilled costume artists who turn out for these conventions. Here are just a few of the folks I met while badge-checking. (Reminder, ask permission for photos!)

Thank you for your service, Redshirt

Thank you for your service, Redshirt, but where’s your BayCon Badge?

 

Star Trek Steampunk

Star Trek Steampunk

 

 

Madame Vastra

Madame Vastra

 

 

 

 

 

Cool, huh?

At the next shift change, I swapped with a Gofer who was working the Art Show.  And that’s when I became a Dedicated Gofer.  Sounds impressive, but it’s an unofficial label indicating that a department head wanted dibs on my time.  Think of it as a mezzanine-level status just below Staff Member.

How does such a thing happen? Five easy steps:

A. Begin with a gap in programs & activities that the Gofer is interested in over a several-hour period.  Check. (I arrived late afternoon with a snack in my bag and nothing on my wish-list but a determination to get to Regency Dancing around 9pm. I made it there at 9:20.)

Star Wars! (Carrender Robotics)

Star Wars at the Art Show! (Carrender Robotics)

B. Stir in an attraction within the venue that the Gofer is interested in. Check. (Bidding was due to close & I had a bid on one item and a friend with a wish for someone to “guard” her bid on another.)

Disco LEGO (Zonker Harris)

Disco LEGO (Zonker Harris)

C. Add a liberal quantity of responsibility for real stuff.  Check. (A key job was organizing the sold works into neat collections, by bidder number, ready for pick-up on Monday.  The staff gave us Gofers instructions, but pretty much let us take care of the job.)

LEGO Collection at the Art Show (Carrender Robotics, Zonker Harris)

LEGO Collection at the Art Show (Carrender Robotics, Zonker Harris)

D. Allow the gofer to see that dedication is actually helping out somebody.  Check. (My fellow Gofer left for dinner shortly after the 7pm closing time and never returned;  I bought a soda & enjoyed a granola bar in between jobs. But the staffers were so on task they were ignoring food they’d brought and having to nag each other to take restroom breaks.  There was clearly too much work for the main staffers to do on their own & they were struggling with a computer issue as well.  By the time my partner Gofer went off-shift, the staff members were trusting me to just take care of other ancillary jobs like running through checklists and sorting out unsold items and items going to the auction.)

 

LEGO at the Art Show (Bricks By the Bay)

LEGO at the Art Show (Bricks By the Bay)

 

E.  Tell ’em.  Check.  (As I was leaving to get my fix of Regency Dancing, the Art Show director directly thanked me for helping and staying late and told me she’d request my help the next day.)

Regency Dancers Take the Floor

Regency Dancers Take the Floor

 

Gofer Lesson of the Day:  Find yourself a good spot to collect ribbons–having some to trade makes it easier–and if you are nice to the folks who put in the effort to turn up in those excellent costumes you may get to take photos or even selfies with them!

Bonus Lesson, this one for Staffers Who Rely on Gofers:  Give your Gofers real jobs, let them take ownership of tasks, and remember to tell them you appreciate their help.  And that will keep them coming back for more.

© 2012-2017 Vanessa MacLaren-Wray All Rights Reserved