Last year londo
asked me to help/be Quartermaster. This year I was Quartermaster. This means keeping four venues, on different floors; in supply, for four days, so they can feed 3,600 of my most intimate friends.
That tends to change/limit what one sees of a convention. I spent a fair chunk of the days in the Volunteer lounge, so that I'd not be distracted/distracting, if my phone went off (and no, I don't think I could do that job without a smartphone. The actuality of having comms makes it possible to do this as an on the fly operation. That it replicates some of the better aspects of Army logistics is part of the reason I didn't ever (even last year when I was chucked [willing, if a bit ignorantly] into the deep end of a big pool) have any moments of panic.
From the get-go (on Weds night, when I got into Boston, and did some confab admin stuff with londo
[btw, if you want to add 30 minutes to my timesheet, for purposes of estimating needed time, feel free]) there was some intimation of where this year's drama was going to lie. One of the service areas had a staff who may have been competent, but seemed to misunderstand just what was needed, and how their ideas of what was critical didn't reflect what was
So I filed that, and moved on. Thus. was the first "semper gumby" moment. 1: We didn't have the vehicle we wanted for doing the first run: that meant looking at the needs of the con, and stripping a 14' panel van's capacity down to what could be squeezed into a hatchback.
2: What ought to have been a timesaving measure to get the tally-sheets of requests (so as to make the picking of essentials easier) didn't work as planned.
3: The critical supplies for the area which needed them most weren't well organised on the list (this was, in part a failure of analysis on my part from last year, married to the lack of space in the vehicle), so they weren't happy. They also mis-identified one of their staples. Helped them figure out how to cope with the non-expected supplies, and smoothed feathers. The other dedicated QM made a second run, and fleshed out their needs.
Friday, I spent offsite. We had the van, so I grabbed assistance, and off to get fill the vehicle. Took longer than I wanted, but no one was out of supply, so call that a win.
On the social side there was a problem. Someone who wants to become a BNF had managed to make the acquaintance of people who could help him, and (absent experience with him) couldn't know he was more on the hustle, than he was on the level, and so was working in a couple of areas. When we'd met he seemed a bit abrasive, but I put that up to cultural differences (he not being from the states), and a bit of the socially awkward. In action he seemed to be a bit clueless; in that he was creating work that didn't really need to be done, as well as presenting it in ways which implied the Arisia Staff was, if not incompetent, clueless; though he did spot one problem (which also needed fixing the year before) ahead of anyone else; which I was able to fix (more directly than I was able to fix it last year; because this year I knew better how Arisia is run).
But everywhere I saw him (hereinafter referred to as O
)I saw the intimations of people being unhappy.
Other than a very late breakfast (2000, or so) with foms
(whom, perforce, I don't get to see often enough), the rest of the evening is a blur, and I turned in fairly early.
Saturday was iffy weather. The Van was a bad idea, so the Mazda was the vehicle to use, and I did co-ordination stuff. Again it was the sort of thing where I was standing by, and managing the onsite needs, so as to make sure offsite gains were in synch. With one thing and another I got myself limboed and didn't see londo
's performance in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged). This will have to be corrected in the future.
I did manage to take in the second half of the belly-dance show, cruise a few parties and do some filking (even accepting a request to perform on pennywhistle [I am less than confident, and so tend to join in, not lead], when I did "The Hills of Connemarra, two sets of variations on the verses, and the chorus played straight). Later ladymondegreen
and I led on "The Canadian Railroad Trilogy" because there were three members of Today's Lucky 10,000
In the midst of all that O
asked for help with a personal emergency and that got bounced to ladymondegreen
. That took up hours, and was emotionally draining to all involved. It seemed he was concealing things, and more than the sorts of reticence which might be accounted for by trying to take someone else's privacy into account.
After the singing, to bed.
The morning run was covered, so I slept in. As I was getting up my phone went off. The folks who had been less-than clueful on how to run their area, had stepped in it; to the point they needed to be fired. So I headed up. Heard what was happening, offered to do what I could, and stayed out of the splash zone as much as I could (mostly so I'd not be seen as confrontational, should things get unpleasant, in addition to ugly). That was handled, afternoon shopping taken care of, and (barring more disaster) the hard part of my con was done. From Sunday morning the QM ought to be on autopilot, and pretty much was.
All I had to do for the rest of the con was pay attention to what food was moving here, and there, and lend a hand so that disruptions didn't happen. I wasn't needed
, per se.
So I went to the filking. At some point I headed down to grab a drink, and got into a conversation with someone about yarn (I'd had several conversations, including one with a lovely person who was respinning some acrylic onto her drop-spindle. I think I have to do some, so as to make crochet yarn for people). She bought a couple of skeins from me (I sold three, and may get some commissions/later purchases from other people; I think I broke even on purchased food vs. sold yarn), when O
buttonholed me, and started to SMOF about his desires for the Kansas City 2016 bid.
And my alarm bells went off like a the station houses in a three-alarm fire.
Because he told me his agenda for working Arisia. He wanted to collect enough references to obtain something on the order of a committee head position on the bid, with which he isn't, (at present) officially affiliated. I tried, as best I could, to give him honest advice (based on what I'd seen of his capacities in action). He didn't like it. He wants to be a "roving troubleshooter. I told him that to do that he needs to know the nuts and bolts of running a con, from the ground up. That spending some time working a number of conventions (in more than one region) in either Ops, or Volunteers, was the best way to do that.
His response was to tell me he was good at ideas (debatable) and ought to be able to handle it based on that. I told him that, even if this were true, he needed people to know he was competent. That he needed to gain a reputation for being a skilled worker.
"That's why I came to Arisia".
So I begged my leave (which was hard as fuck; he's an emotional leech, and even knowing the manipulative tricks he was using... well they get used because they are effective) and went back to the filking. It wasn't moving all that well, and we made our leave. On the way out, there was a nascent hallway jam. I stood in, and spent the next three hours singing, and whistling, and rattling bones, with a guitar, a harp, three fiddles (one of whom was told "yeah, if you go get it, we'll still be here"), and a dozen voices, until something close to 0330, at which point the guitar left, and we had a smaller circle of talk, and quiet singing, and musical noodling. About 0430 I went to bed.
Got up, packed my bags, and got them to the car. Went to make sure there were no fires.
Having done that got tugged on the sleeve by O
who was upset/seething with some moral indignation, "I need you to help me with a sanity check".
It seems that sometime in the night (while he was walking with a couple of women; whom he made point to note were, "attractive") Security had asked to speak with him. He took offense at this. They told him they would like him to stay until someone could come and speak with him. He refused. He told them he was going to the con-suite, and would be back at some specific time, when he would wait for three minutes, after which, if no one was there to speak with him, he was going to consider the issue closed.
When he came back someone (fairly high up) was there, spoke with him, and (if I infer correctly) told him there were people who were uncomfortable with the way he had been doing some of the things he was doing: which had the color of authority of the convention, and that he needed to avoid that sort of thing.
He wanted me to tell him if he'd been treated fairly. I told him he had. He looked at me as if I'd grown a third eye. He averred that perhaps he hadn't asked the question clearly. I made him restate it. And then I told him he'd been perfectly clear, and that, in light of what he'd told me he'd been treated more than fairly, and far more gently that he would have been had this happened at one of the conventions at which I was working/running Security.
That had I been setting policy he would have been allowed to leave, as he demanded, but that until such time as the convention had a chance to speak with him about it Security was going to hold his badge.
Part of what boggled me is that he'd been nearby when another incident (of a different sort, but also one concerning how people's actions in public spaces affected other people), had been initiated, and he wasn't given quite the same level of direct scrutiny (which is because there was no doubt about who he was: Arisia seems to be both definite, and circumspect in addressing Code of Conduct Violations). So his dudgeon seemed out of place, esp. because by the time he spoke to me the fear of some dramatic resolution seemed past.
So my Arisia was overbusy, a slight bit undersocial, in some ways (which is probably my fault, for being too concerned about failing to keep the trains running when they were on straight track, with no obstacles. That, however is how I made the acquaintance of several swell people in a more than passing manner; so color it in the win column, when all is said and done), and watching a parasite try to affix himself to NYC/Boston fandom. It was an enjoyable convention, even splendid; and all the "failings" were aspects of my personality, and I had a great deal of fun, even if it was quite different fun from my first Arisia, where I wasn't working. It was a lot more fun than last year, where I was afraid I was going to fail my trust. I never felt over my head this time, nor our of my groove.
Next year, I'll relax a little more, and budget my time a little better.