Let me get this straight…
We got the car packed earlier than usual and were on the road to the convention before noon. We also lucked out at checkin, even though we are early, a room very close to all the events was ready. And then we found a perfect parking spot very close to the hotel.
I should have known something big was going to go wrong.
I ran into our friends, Keith and Juli, while standing in line to pick up my badge. We had a fun conversation as the line moved quickly. I wanted to go find our club table so we could start setting up, but Juli saw a t-shirt she wanted to check out.
While we were browsing the t-shirt table, the lady selling shirts noticed my Doctor Who shirt and showed me an awesome polo shirt with an embroidered Tardis. I agreed that it was a very tempting shirt, but noted that just last week, while we were cleaning up in the bedroom, my husband had pointed out we both had way too many t-shirts and such.
A kid, about seven or eight years old, I think, standing nearby said, “What? You have a husband?”
And I said yes.
“But… but… you’re a man.”
“You’re a man… and you have a man?”
“Yes, I do.”
“You’re a man who has a husband?!?”
“You have a husband.”
I held up my left hand and pointed at my wedding band. “Yes, I have a husband.”
By this point his mother, who had been some distance away looking at another part of the t-shirt display, had made her way through the crowd to grab her son. “<name>! Don’t be rude!”
“But he’s a man who has a husband!”
“Yes, he is. That happens.”
“Come over here and stop bothering people!” And she drags him away, never making eye contact with me.
I was merely amused by this, and turned back to find Keith and Juli. I then noticed a t-shirt whose design I really liked. I decided I wanted the shirts, so I grabbed that shirt, and went back to get the polo. The saleslady says, “If you buy a third, we pay the sales tax.”
By this time I’ve noticed a few more shirts that quite tempt me, so I start looking some more (having totally succumbed to the superior jedi mind trick of the salesperson). I had narrowed my choices down to three, when suddenly I feel a tug on my shirt. I look down, and the kid is back.
“Now, let me get this straight, you’re a man and you have a husband.”
“Yes, I am.”
“Where’s your husband at?”
“He’s back in our room, unpacking.”
“Do you really have a husband?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Where is he?”
“He’s back in our hotel room.”
“What’s his name?”
“His name is Michael.”
“Michael? Really? But—”
And his mother appeared from out of the crowd, looking quite flustered. “I told you to stay with me and stop bothering people!” Again, without making any eye contact or otherwise acknowledging my actual existence, she grabbed him and dragged him away.
We went looking for our table. Almost all of the club tables were labeled, but none said “Tai-Pan” on them. After checking several times, we wind up in the con office, where multiple attempts are made to get the person in charge of the club tables on the line. Eventually another staff member (one I’ve known for a long time) comes to help us. He takes my cell phone number and promises to find out where our table is.
Eventually the table person calls me, and tells me that we don’t have a table because she has no record that we ever requested one. I tell her that I applied for the table and received an email confirmation a few months ago. She says no I didn’t. If I had, she would have a record of it. She not only has no record, she has no outgoing messages in her email program going to me.
I asked her which address she was looking for to see if she had any to me, since I hadn’t told her my address, and I wasn’t sure if she even knew anything but my first name, but she talked over me and said that she had nothing about us in any email. I started to describe the form I had filled out and tried to remember the date I sent it. She interrupts me to explain that they have a new process with a form, so if I didn’t fill out the form… so I interrupted her to say that I was just describing the form, and the new policies, and so on.
Michael says I remained calm and polite, but I was feeling more than a bit irritated.
She said, “Well, if you can show me the email I… um, well, I don’t know what I could do at this point, because we don’t have any tables.”
My problem is that I did all of this from the editor@taipan-etcerata account. Which is hosted on a service that doesn’t support IMAP, so I have it set up as a POP3 that downloads all the mail to my desktop computer.
My desktop at home.
I am very, very certain that I have three emails from them regarding this year’s table process. The first replying to my inquiry about when we could apply for tables, telling me that there is a new process and a form would be sent, soon. The second containing the form. The third acknowledging receipt of my completed form. However, I can’t prove that without driving back to Seattle and checking my files there. And they have pretty much said that they can’t give us a table even if I find the emails.
One of the problems with this convention is that it outgrew this hotel many years ago. If you take your car out of the parking lot once the convention gets going, you might wander for an hour or more trying to find a place to park when you get back. So I don’t see the point of the aggravation I’d have of leaving, finding a spot, only to not get a table, anyway.
I’m fairly certain that this is just a mistake. I had been pestering the club table people asking about table applications before they had announced (because usually the information is available on the web site earlier), and it was clear from the early communications I got that they were still working on the process. So maybe this is just an honest mistake.
But I keep finding myself wondering how she can be so certain there was no outgoing message to me in her Sent box when she didn’t know my email address…