Peter Hentges (jbru) wrote,
Peter Hentges

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Back from Wonderland

Over the weekend I visited Atlanta to attend DragonCon. I went down at the behest and expense of my friend Bob, who runs a local game store and is partner in Adventure Retail, the company that has an interest in the local game company, Atlas Games. They've made a deal with many manufacturers to represent them and their products at conventions; the smaller companies get wider exposure and Adventure Retail gets a share of the profits from selling their products.

For me, the fun comes from getting to go to various cons around the country and have a directed activity to participate in. No wandering around, wondering how to get involved in something. No having to overcome shyness to meet new people. I get to stand in the dealer's room for nine or so hours a day and have people come to me. A bright, "Morning!" or "Hello!" attracts their attention and some retail assistance sometimes sparks a short conversation about this game or that. Most of the interactions last 90 seconds at most and so if I'm offensive or too forward, the repercussions are small.

Every now and then, the payoff is great. Like the lady who literally jumped up and down, clapped her hands and squealed when she learned that not only did we have the game she really, really wanted, but we also accepted checks.


In some ways, DragonCon reminded me of the Minicons of yore. There were people in all kinds of costumes wandering the halls. Much fetish gear was in evidence. Concerts/dances with semi-large name bands were happening every night. Film and gaming programming were large portions of the convention.

There was much more media fandom presence than was usual at past Minicons, with film and television stars as recognizable as Mira Furlan, James Doohan, and Virginia Hey as well as numerous more obscure ones. I got to have a brief chat with Jimmy Doohan who was definitely looking his age and appeared to have acquired Parkinson's disease. His hand shook as he signed a photo for me but our brief conversation about his service in World War II and the treatment of veterans in this country revealed a still-sharp mind. I fear I'll have reason to break out the bottle of scotch he signed for me years ago before too long.

In some ways, DragonCon also reminded me of the British SF cons I've been to. There, it is regular for convention goers to spend a great deal of time in the pub, whereas American conventions typically have a hospitality suite of some kind. While I heard later that such a suite was somewhere at DragonCon, most nights it seemed the folks just hung out in the public areas of the main hotel and its bar, talking, watching, being seen.

I ran into two friends of mine from Minneapolis. They are, like me, appreciators of fine malt whiskey and I often spend time with them at Minicons and other local conventions. This was their first trip to DragonCon, as it was mine, so we had a fun bit of small world experience straight off.


I think I horked off my friend Bob at the end of the con. Part of the deal with flying me down is that they put me up and pay my expenses. Rather than give me a per diem, Bob said to just turn in receipts for things I paid for and they'd reimburse me, either in cash if they had it at the con or by check later. So when on Monday, I turned over the receipts I had for the weekend totally $280 for meals and drinks and such, Bob got a bit disgruntled at the amount.

Now, I fully admit that I have expensive tastes. One of those receipts was for the sushi dinner one of the other guys and I had one evening and another was for late dinner and drinks for three where I had five Irish whiskeys. So I told Bob that he didn't have to reimburse all of that and should give me what he thought was reasonable. He seemed to me to get defensive at that, saying that since I'd turned in the receipts, he was morally obligated to reimburse me while all the time while I was right there saying that I didn't expect to be reimbursed for everything.

So I ended up feeling guilty. To make up for it, I took some of the money he gave me, paid for the t-shirt I was comped to wear in the booth, the James Doohan photo I'd borrowed money for, and a CD from the booth I'd been wanting to pick up for a while. I also didn't turn over the $20 worth of receipts I had for breakfasts that I was previously going to toss to repay for the Doohan photo and have not intention now of turning in receipts for the cab fare to the airport and back in Minneapolis and the shuttle from airport to hotel and back in Atlanta. I also plan to buy beer for the next month's worth of wargaming at Bob's basement.

On the one hand, I'm feel bad about straining my relationship with my friend by overstepping his expectations of what I'd do while there working for him. On the other hand, I took vacation time from work to go down early, worked my ass off during set-up and tear down as well as all through the show. I feel that Bob's being unfair to me and think that it was probably just end-of-con tiredness and stress at the work that was going to be coming along in an hour or so when we needed to tear down.

I also feel like I'm being a bit of a martyr, giving back some of the money, planning to give back more in other ways, or not accept other reimbursements. That doesn't feel like I'm being honest with my friend or that I'm trying to one-up him by telling him that I could have requested more but didn't.

I'll have to look at how to get over that. I'm sure Bob and I will remain friends because he's the kind of guy that doesn't stay mad about things like that. I just don't want to wait for him to get over it and feel like I'm a heel until he does.


My flight back from Atlanta got in at midnight. I got up this morning to get Ericka off to her pool therapy at 5:00 a.m. The math is left as an exercise for the reader. Got into work at about 7:30 and caught up on e-mail. Thankfully not a lot of non-spam mail to go through and no pressing problems to firefight. I'm a bit groggy but am propping myself up with some mid-morning snacks.

It's a bright and sunny day and I'm going to go out to a long lunch to soak it in. I'm hoping to meet up with a friend, but we'll have to see how that goes.

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