Confusion 31

ConFusion was held over the weekend of January 21-23, 2005 at the Marriot Detroit-Troy in Troy, Michigan, one of the suburbs of Detroit. It turned out to be something of an adventure for us.

Since we have family in Fort Wayne, Indiana, we drive up the night before and stay overnight before continuing to the hotel the next morning. However, Thursday evening brought a snowstorm, with continual driving snow and nasty roads. A two hour drive turned into three and a half hours of painful creeping, struggling to hold onto the road. We passed one vehicle after another in the ditch, which only reminded us how dangerous the situation was. We couldn't even get off at our usual exit because it was such a mess that we couldn't see the ramp. By the time we arrived, I was exhausted and aching from the strain of driving in such rotten conditions.

At least Friday morning's drive wasn't too bad, and we arrived at the hotel in a reasonable amount of time. But when we got there, it was still too early to check in, so we went over to the dealers' room to see what the situation was there. As soon as we entered, we noticed that the tables seemed rather small. So we got out a measuring tape and discovered that we had only six-foot tables. A few quick questions to someone from the con-com and we discovered that the hotel had made a mistake and set up six-foot tables instead of eight-foot ones. This led to a round of discussions with the hotel liaison, who finally had them bring in additional tables and increase our space. We actually ended up with two extra feet of space above what we had actually paid for. The hotel definitely saved its reputation there.

By that time we were finally able to get checked into our room and carry our personal belongings up. Then we carried stuff into the dealers' room. We were able to get people to help us, and got everything in quickly enough that we were actually able to get set up and done before the doors opened to the general con membership

However, the art show was running seriously behind, and couldn't even get me paperwork to get ready while I waited. So we settled in to sell. Sales were rather slow, and we were seriously wondering if we had made a major mistake. Since the dealers' room was open so late, we brought our supper down to the dealers' room and ate it there.

After the dealers' room closed for the night, we went to the hot tub for a good soak. Then we made the rounds of the parties. Penguicon had specialty fudges in their suite, and the Chicago in 2008 bid party had Chicago-style hot dogs. We went to several other parties, but didn't have time to get to the Conclave party, because it was getting late and we were still tired from the previous day's drive. So we went ahead and turned in for the night.

Saturday we got up and had breakfast in the con suite. We watched the snow blowing and drifting, and were very glad we didn't have to do any driving. However, we were concerned about how the snowstorm would affect attendance, since people who couldn't come Friday might decide not to come at all because of the weather.

Then we went down to the dealers' room and opened our tables for the day. Sales continued to be slow, although we did have one huge sale from a guy who came in and bought a whole bag of Star Trek books. That instantly dropped our backstock by almost a whole box, just by itself. However, a dealer simply can't bank on monster sales like that. We need the steady regular-sized sales to stay afloat.

After the dealers' room closed for the day, we went to the hot tub and soaked out the aches and pains of the day. Then we went back up to our room and had our supper before heading up to make the rounds of the parties. We visited the Penguicon suite again, then went down to see MSFFA's ToBeCONtinued party. It was rather low-key compared to most of MSFFA's parties, but the snowstorm may have meant that some of their people couldn't get there.

Then we went down to the Conclave party and discovered that they were running a con special on memberships. We had been thinking about going back to them this year, but when we discovered that they were holding the con over Columbus Day weekend, we had to make sure that we wouldn't have a possible conflict with Icon in Iowa City, which we'd done really well at last year. So we went up to the Penguicon suite and asked around until we found a geek with a wireless connection, and discovered that Icon was on a different weekend anyway this year. So we hurried back to the Conclave party and put in our money for the membership.

Then we went to the Minicon party, although we're not going to be attending as long as they're so pitifully small (they're just too far away to justify the gas expense to travel to a small con). They had some good food, but they also had some bread with hot peppers, which wasn't labeled as hot. Because it looked like the Hawaiian sweet bread, my husband tried some, and bit straight into a hot pepper. He ended up sick because of it, since hot peppers disagree severely with his digestion.

So we had to go ahead and turn in early for the night, in hopes of getting some sleep before time to load out.

Sunday morning we got up bright and early and went down to see about getting our van dug out of the snow. I brushed off the snow on the windows and doors, which was a pretty substantial accumulation. Then we got breakfast in the con suite before loading out our personal belongings.

Then we went down to the dealers' room and got our tables open for business. I also got my art off the art show. Unfortunately, none of it had sold, but at least I hadn't risked any money, since hanging was free for people who stayed in the hotel.

We got some fairly good last minute sales on books, even while we were packing. Those last sales actually made the difference between our making and losing money.

When the dealers' room closed and it was time to load out, our volunteers showed up again. They were really great, following our directions, carrying things out quickly and getting them into the van. We were actually able to get loaded early, and left well before we'd expected to be out. However, the uncertainty about road conditions on our usual route meant that we had to use a different, longer one, so that the head start soon disappeared and we actually ended up arriving about the same time we would usually get back. I ended up having to do all the driving, and was very tired, sore and cramped by the time we got home. I must be getting old, because I regularly drove six hours by myself when I was living in southern Illinois and attending the Chicago conventions.

Copyright 1998 by Leigh Kimmel

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Last updated October 21, 2012.