Sunday, April 9, 2017

Topic of the Week - Your Best Convention Memory

Earlier this (last) week Vince ask us to talk about our personal best convention memory. The idea is for people whom never been to a convention to hear stories from people whom have and maybe get inspired to attend a convention of their own. I completely agree with this settlement. I've only been to one small gaming convention but I've lost count of the number of anime conventions I've attended (I think the number is around 13). I haven't been to many conventions in recent years but I hope to be able to start regularly going to various types of conventions again. Being at a convention was some of the most exciting and unique moments of my life and I would suggest if you have the opportunity to go to a convention in subject you enjoy, you should put in every possible effort to attend. It is truly an experience like no other. Now there is no way I can single out one memory as my best convention story. I just have too many wonderful memories to pick one. What I can do is write about 3 particular stories that are currently on my mind. They are not rated in any way. These just so happen to be the first ones I thought of when I heard the topic.

I'll start with the preparation of going to my very first convention. After hearing about cons I decided I would put in the effort to go to one. I did the research to find a mid to large size convention that was in driving distance. I talked friends into going and I even did the paperwork to get funding from our university as a club activity. Only one of my friends had ever been to a convention before and the one he went to was fairly small so this was a new experience for most of us. The convention was during the first week of June. That put it just after college finals. Didn't think much about it at the time but two week before the trip one of my friends whom I was planning on going with us moved. Moving after spring finals was quite common for people whom lives on campus. Even if you plan on staying in the same dorm, if you wasn't quick enough your room could be taken and you would be force to move down the hall. The thing to remember is that this was a time most of us didn't have cell phones and we rarely contacted each other online. Landlines was how we talk to each other so with my friend moving, I had no way to contact him. I hope he would try to contact me but he never did. Everyone else was not happy about this. If my friend didn't go, that would mean everyone else would have to pay more for the hotel room, which was sizeable. Most of us had been budgeting for this trip for months so a last minute expense was infuriating. Not a good way to start our first convention trip. So the big day came and I still had not heard from my friend. I got the call that people were on their way to pick me up. It almost felt like an action movie with my time running out. Even at that point I was still trying to think of a way to find him. Then I suddenly got an idea but I had to wait until the Office of Housing opened. That ate up 15 minutes I didn't have. When they were open, I call Housing and asked if my friend still lived on campus. They told me he did and I was nearly overwhelm with relief. So I asked for his number and they refused to give it to me, putting me right back into despair. Before I hung up in anger (or maybe I did hung up and called back) I thought of another idea. I asked if they could transfer me to him and they said yes and I started hearing the phone ring. It felt like there was a 10 minute pause between each ring but eventually I heard my friend's voice. It took a lot of self control not to shout. I asked him if he was still interested in going to the convention. He told me yes and I was like great, tell me where you are at, we will be there in 15 minutes! Then he panic and hung up after giving me his address. He probably thought the convention was next week or just simply lost track of time. In either case, I'm sure when he woke up that morning he wasn't planning on leaving for a 5-day trip! Everyone else was ecstatic that he had been found. It was like we all won an extra 50 bucks. It was funny. The two weeks before the trip was a nightmare and yet once we were on the road everybody was in high spirits. Once the convention started, said friend whom almost got left behind disappeared that Friday morning and the rest of the group practically never saw him until the convention was over Sunday afternoon. Which is completely fine because each of us enjoyed the convention in different ways.

My next story deals with the same convention about 2 or 3 years later. It was at a different hotel so it took a little time getting used to the difference. Since the first time we went to that convention, my group had taken a liking to eating at Jack in the Box. Its fast food with a wide range of choices and there are no location where we live. It became our ritual to eat at Jack in the Box on our way home and sometime when we first arrive in the city. The hotel during that particular year had a Jack in the Box right next door, within walking distance. That made us really happy! It also probably dawn on the manager that they could make a lot of money if they cater to the 10,000 anime fans next door. Either that or they got tired of Con-goers standing in their drive-in waiting to order. Jack in the Box's lobby normally closes at 10 pm but very quickly they had a sign saying if you showed them your convention badge they would let you dine in until 4 am. I certainly took advantage of their offer. The convention ended Sunday afternoon but I like just relaxing in the hotel Sunday night and leave on Monday. On our trip home we visit that Jack in the Box one last time. The first person in line found out Jack was out of what they wanted, as well as their second and third choice. Normally people would be upset with a resturant being under-stocked. We just laughed it off, considering it another part of the convention experiences. In the end, we had to ask them what they DID have to make ordering take any reasonable amount of time.

My last story also deals with food. Last year was the first time I've gone to a war gaming convention. It was a small, one day convention and I had no idea what to expect from it. I was looking for a people to play Team Yankee with and found a friendly and very inviting community of players. After a morning of playing games and trading Team Yankee strategy, Tracy and myself had lunch with half the group running the Team Yankee event. Twenty minutes into eating, laughing and trading hobby stories with each other, somehow the topic of my old podcast with Tracy came up, which we were still doing at the time. Its hard to tell how many was actually listening to it but it was worth a try to hawk it to people we knew were interested in the subject matter. Their response was something I never could have imagine. One of them said "I thought I recognize your guys voices!". They were already listening to our podcast and enjoyed the content we created. It brought a smile to my face but it was also humbling knowing my work was being appreciated. We return to the convention hall after lunch and had another 8 or so hours of gaming fun. I had a lot of great memories that day but the one that sticks with me is the thought a podcast duo can eat lunch with their fans and neither side knows the other identity!

You might be wondering why none of my convention stories were technically at the convention. The reason for this is that the convention experience includes far more than just your time at the convention. The road trip, time at the hotel(if you stay at one), or just eating with friends or other con-goers all contribute to what makes conventions so special. I have many more convention stories I could tell and will probably write about them in a future series. But that's all I have for now. Thank you for reading.

Vince's Topic of the Week -

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