Windycon XXXII was held over the weekend of November 11-13, 2005 at the Wyndham O'Hare in Rosemont, Illinois, one of the western suburbs of Chicago. We were lucky to even get to the con this year. We went partway up on Thursday night, and about midway through, a huge whitetail buck came up on the shoulder of I-65. If he'd jumped in front of our van, our trip would've been over then and the. But he just stooa there and flicked an ear as we sped by, so we got to Kankakee and our transit quarters safely.
However, our troubles were not yet over. On Friday we went out to our van and discovered we had no power steering. So we went to the nearby Wal-mart and got some power steering fluid, thinking we could limp along that way. However, we got no more than twenty miles down the road before we were without power steering again. So we stopped at the rest stop and put some more in.
That lasted about the same distance, and this time we had a plume of white smoke trailing behind us. So we decided to just get along without power steering for the rest of the trip. That made driving in Chicago traffic a really interesting experience. However, we did arrive safely at the hotel, if a bit behind schedule.
We located our tables and loaded in our merchandise. However, we were running enough behind that we had to hurry to get our boxes behind the tables before the doors opened for business.
We also got checked into our room and got our personal stuff into it. Then I took my art over to the art show and got it set up. After all that, we settled in to sell. However, sales were quite slow.
After the dealers' room closed, we ate the supper that we had brought. Then we went around to the various parties. There were several good ones, but not nearly as many as there used to be at the old hotel. Then we turned in for the night.
Saturday morning we got up and went down to the con suite to get breakfast. We were told that dealers could get in early through the back way, but as soon as we got inside, we were brusquely told to leave, and they wouldn't listen when we tried to say we were dealers. So we went back up to our room to get some stuff, then headed down to the dealers' room. On the way down, one of the GT people told me there was food in their suite, so I went up and got some donuts. By the time I got back down, the dealer's room co-ordinator was loudly proclaimimg for all with ears to hear just how incompetent the con suite staff was.
When the con suite finally dld open, I went over and complained. I got a rather self-justifying pseudoapology from one of the con suite staff, which did not overly impress me.
In the afternoon we ran headlong into yet another mixup. The badly-designed pocket program led us to believe that the author readings were the signings. Elizabeth Moon was real cool about it and went ahead and signed the book I'd brought beforehand. However, Harry Turtledove told me to come back at the end of his reading. Since I didn't want to chance missing him, I went early and stood at the door for nearly twenty minutes, only to have him slip out while I was momentarily distracted. Someone else told me that he was down at another room, but when I got there, he wasn't there.
Then, while I was waiting at the elevator, I had this goody-goody give me a Morality and Patriotism lecture about how I needed to Just Make the Best of It. That was when I pretty much lost it. I came very close to saying some truly nasty things, and didn't only because I was able to get out of the situation and decompress. I had just too many stressors all piling on at once, and the last one, however trivial it may have been individually, was just one too many stressors.
However, one of the concom people saw me in extremis, and ended up finding Harry Turtledove and bringing him to our dealers' tables to sign the books. So it ended up being not an entirely lost cause, even if it was quite frustrating while it was going on.
After the dealers' room closed, we went up to our room and ate the supper we'd brought with us. Then I got my laptop out and did some work on my latest non-fiction article assignment. I actually was able to get a reasonable amount of progress made on it.
In the evening we went around to the various parties. We went to the Columbus in 2008 Worldcon bid party and did a lot of talking about parking facilities and other woes, especially the problems that Chicago was having. We also hit the Denver bid party, although I doubt we would try to sell there if they did win. However, we ended up turning in early. We were both tired and miserable, and we knew we had an awful drive ahead of us in the morning.
Sunday we got up and got our personal belongings out of our sleeping room. When I went to the van, I discovered two things. First, the wind was blowing hard enough to practically blow me off my feet. Second, some idiot had parked right beside our van, so close that we could barely get the side door open.
I did manage to get our personal stuff into the van, but it wasn't fun, particularly with my back acting up. Then we went to the con suite to get some breakfast, and had all kinds of hassles. By the time we got to the dealers' room, I was miserable.
Sales continued to be slow, and we could see we weren't going to even begin to make expenses. Given that the previous year had been rotten too, we came to the conclusion that we couldn't really justify going back next year. We may give it another try in a few years.
So we started packing early and loaded out as quickly as we could. However, we got almost no help, so loading was a slow and painful process, particularly with the wind wanting to blow the lighter merchandise away.
Finally we were loaded and headed out. And then the true nightmare began. Driving through Chicago traffic with no power steering was bad enough, but once we got out of Illinois, it became obvious that the alternator was failing altogether. Finally it just plain quit, leaving us running on battery power in an effort to get to the rest stop. We almost made it, but were coasting the last few thousand yards, and finally ran out of momentum just shy of the ramp. I walked the rest of the way to the rest stop to arrange for a tow. It was after midnight by the time we finally got home, and we were so miserable and exhausted that my husband left his cane in the tow truck -- which meant all the subsequent hassles of contacting the tow company and getting them to ship the cane back to us.
Copyright 2012 by Leigh Kimmel
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Last updated October 21, 2012.