In 2014, BayCon had its traditional four days to work with, and Friday was an ease-into-the event day. This was a great time to turn up at the Gofer Hole and ask if they needed help. “Yes!” being the inevitable answer. Warning: if you try this, there ARE forms! If you are a kid, there are parental signatures required. So I signed away liability for the horrific injuries and possible death that might occur as a result of my participation in the duties of a fetch-and-carry helper in a nice hotel constructed to meet modern building codes. More likely: infection by a zombie virus, but ha on them, they didn’t mention zombie viruses in the release form.
The reward for filling out forms: my first badge ribbon of the Con. Yes, this means I am Gofer #18. Shades of Caddy Shack.
So what does a Gofer do? Take a deep breath, plunge in. Oh, it is soooooo difficult.
Job #1: Go to the Big Ballroom, to help set up for some event tonight. No idea what the event is. The person who called for help? He’s not there. No one knows what he wanted done. But the guy hanging lights at the Art Show needs an assistant.
Job #2: Help hang lights at the Art Show. Now, actually hanging the lights is a Skilled Job, not a Gofer job. My job is to hand cable ties to the exhausted electrical tech, whose ladder-climbs for the weekend have already gone into the triple digits. And to help spot weak links in the chain of power-strips and extension cords feeding electrons to the downlamps positioned to light the display boards for the art. Artists are already checking in, placing their work, jockeying for prime display spots in the venue. Still, we proceed up and down rows with a stepladder and a bundle of cable ties.
Job #3: The original person who wanted help is back. He needs a banner snapped onto a big framework thingy. It’s a multi-gofer job that takes some cooperation, especially amusing as none of us assisting with this thing have any idea what it’s for. My engineering brain helps with figuring out the layout itself, and we get the fabric stretched out nicely, but my partner gets to actually do most of the actual attachment, since there is a power element to the task.
Job #4: Hang around in the Gofer Hole, being On Call. Seriously, being available counts as working. Yes, indeed, this is even better than counting billable hours in my consulting practice. Dang, if only I could bill clients for time I’m home & my phone and email connections are working. There are snacks here—bagels, mmmm. And electrical outlets, so I can plug in my netbook & work on a Messy Monday project.
Job #5: Schlep groceries for a party. Some longtime VIP staffers are having a private party. Their goodies for the party are stowed in the Gofer Hole. We On-Call Gofers have the hugely easy job of carrying the goodies a hundred feet down the hall. [Hint: helping with a party does entitle one to partake of the party. Generally speaking. I did not take part, having a prior engagement with a soda machine.]
Job #6: Load sodas into the Charity Soda Machine. This is a magical device in the Games Room that converts geeks’ need for carbonated sugar- or aspartame-water into monies for this year’s charity fundraising. I was briefly concerned that I would run into difficulties with my limited weight-lifting capabilities. But the job soon devolves into a three-stage process free of excessive lifting:
Stage A: Wander about looking for the Keeper of the Soda-Machine Keys.
Stage B: Wait for the Individual Authorized to Use the Humungous Hand Truck
Stage C: Leave when Keeper of the Machine appears and disavows any need for help
Job #7: Build a LARP set. Someone has created a live-action role-playing version of a card-based game called “Kill Dr. Lucky”. This is a game I have never heard of, but someone has gone to great lengths to build an accurate, room-sized playing field that live humans can walk about on as if they are playing pieces in the game. Our mission: assist this charismatic lunatic by moving chairs out of the way, laying out the sheets his friend has carefully marked out with lines and labels, getting each in proper orientation to the other and smoothing out the boundaries with tape. By the time we are done, I’m determined to show up and try out this LARPing thing.
And by this time, I’ve put in totally enough time as a Gofer for one day, while the activities I’m least interested in on the program are conveniently over.
I have time to dash up to the DIY room before dinnertime and make myself a cool ray gun by artistically decorating a plastic gun with gold and silver and red and purple and green Sharpies. It is my favorite toy already. So shiny.
And I wouldn’t want anyone to think one has to devote the entire day just Gofering about. I did skip an hour of possible On-Call credit for a panel on the relative merits of James Bond and Doctor Who. And regretted it. There is no contest. Doctor Who is way, way cooler than James Bond, but the panel was mostly a bunch of guys keen on car chases in movies.
Finally, yes, I did get to play Kill Dr. Lucky. It was super fun, and while I cannot claim to be the One Who Did the Deed, the evil Dr. L was indeed assassinated. Here is our team’s creative enactment of the impending demise of the successful assassin.
Gofer Lesson of the Day: Sign up early & there will be lots of easy jobs to do while the con is barely getting started. There’s never a dull moment, or if there is, you can get credit for working by napping while On Call. And don’t leave home without a suitable weapon.