The final day of a convention can be a downer: games are ending, there are no parties pending, the con suite is running short on the good stuff, some people you just got to know are leaving early, and—not the least of it—you’re really, really tired.
I wasn’t due for “work” until afternoon, but I roused myself earlier, for the last DIY project—Make A Parasol (see Firefly). Alas, I’d missed a program schedule update & the project was over. Long over—it had happened the day before! Won’t happen this year—I’ve finally joined the Smartphone Universe & so have access to the online schedule for BayCon 2015.
I did have a backup plan—a panel discussion on new discoveries about extrasolar planets. But I’m kind of a Kepler fanatic, so the information being shared was, well, old hat. I found myself nodding off while people were talking about one of my favorite subjects.
So off to the Gofer Hole to check in and claim my spot as the Art Show Gofer. The day wasn’t boring any more.
I had my chance to be part of the Art Auction. That was cool—I’ve never been, because I can’t afford to bid anything near what auction items should go for. Instead, I got to set up bidder numbers for folks who did have the resources and were eager to support these wonderful artists.
Once the Auction wound down, I got to be on the giving end of the Art Show. That is, folks queued up to collect the pieces they’d won in the silent bidding and—later on—the auction. The staff took care of the official tasks of collecting payments and pacifying people who’d not won the pieces they wanted. As a Gofer, I fetched their purchases (from the stacks we’d so carefully arranged the night before) and saw those their faces light up with happiness.
Eventually, all but a few of the neat stacks were gone. A few winning bidders were late to collect their prizes. But we set those safely aside.
In the meantime, all afternoon, artists were coming by and packing up any pieces that hadn’t sold. We helped if needed—fetching supplies, finding paperwork they needed, taking down labels and hooks from the display boards—and it was cool to get to talk directly with the artists. Several artists had entrusted the convention staff to display the work on their behalf, having shipped the art with their registration forms. Most had a piece or two still unsold, and these needed to be repacked for shipping homeward. The original boxes were not necessarily available, so I made the rounds of the vendor room to scrounge empty boxes.
Gradually, one by one, the display boards were emptied, we collected all the hooks, labels, and trash, and the staff tracked down the last of the tardy winning bidders.
It was time to empty the room. Load-out time. Most of the stuff needing shifted was heavy—pegboards, frames, bins full of papers and supplies. So I called dibs on the job of getting all the art-to-be-shipped-home safely out to the Art Show director’s car. It took a few trips through a lobby full of exhausted attendees and staffers. Then I glommed onto an empty luggage cart. Plus, the Gofer King was one of the staffers in the lobby and he dispatched an idle Gofer to help on my last round. Whew.
So, most of these events end with what they call Dead Dog. That’s one of the things you hear staffers talking about near the end of a convention, but they don’t share with mere members what exactly that is. The deep dark secret is: it’s a party. It’s the staff party that happens when everything’s over, the attendees have gone, and all the clean-up work that can get done is done. Aha, it’s what theater types call a strike party.
Generally speaking, it’s a Staff event, but Gofers who stick it out all the way to the end are welcomed into the party. There’s food. All the leftovers from the weekend, that no-one wants to have to haul home. All the ice-cold sodas left in the Magic Charity Soda Machine. Meanwhile, the hard-core staffers take the opportunity to give thank-you speeches to each other and praise the folks who’ve stepped up to chair the event next year.
It felt a little like crashing the party at that point, but the Art Show leaders were saying nice things to me, so I felt better. And Alison asked if maybe I’d help her as staff in 2015. And finally, finally, I gathered up my own art purchases, and Went Home.
Gofer Lesson of the Day: If you stick it out to the end of everything, you can get into the fabulous Dead Dog party. There will probably not be any dogs there, just tired-out volunteers. Like you.
How to do this:
Method #1: Walk into the Gofer Hole and sign up. You do need to be 16, but there’s no upper limit. Yes, really, you, too, can be a middle-aged Gofer. For BayCon 2015, the secret lair is in Tasman. Go up the escalator, turn right and it’ll be on your right before you reach the convention center.
Method #2: Email the King of the Gofers. That’s firstname.lastname@example.org. You get double credit for helping at setup on the day before the convention starts. If you’re super-eager to help & don’t get a reply, email me (email@example.com) and I’ll help you make contact.