Monday, March 2, 2009

Our WonderCon That Almost Wasn't (Part 1)

Here's the beginning of the story of our WonderCon that almost wasn't...

As many of you know from Stuart's update to our email list, the French shipment was delayed. We had been promised this shipment would be delivered in DECEMBER. As with all French shipments, in spite of our best efforts to avoid last minute arrivals, we got yet another call that the books would arrive at the most inconvenient time..... in this case, Tuesday February 24th, our scheduled departure date for WonderCon. So instead of driving to the Bay Area on Tuesday, we decided to wait for the books. The truck arrived around 1PM. We off-loaded the 27 boxes from the delivery truck, stacked them in the hallway and started doing inventory. Here's a pic of some of those boxes:

And here's a view of some of the unpacking and sorting process inside the showroom:

Stuart says he's used to the stress of these situations. It was a difficult time for all of us... but Stuart was convinced we could prep enough of the French shipment to bring to the convention. So all of us (that's Stuart, Peggy, myself, and Stuart's sister Nancy) got to work......moving boxes around, doing inventory, putting price labels in all the individual books that were being re-packed to take to WonderCon.
But..... right here is the point on Tuesday afternoon when Stuart got sick. Really sick. Sick enough that he turned a sort of waxy color that you never want to see in a loved one. He had to go lie down. Then he couldn't get up. I seriously considered dialing 911. Long story short, I got him to our family doctor, where he was quickly seen and treated (much faster than if we had gone to an emergency room... I'm told by our friend who works at a hospital that 9 hours is the average wait time to be seen at an emergency room).
We were lucky that this event wasn't serious. Our doctor said as long as Stuart felt better in the morning, he could go on the trip. Still, I considered this a "red flag" warning, for both of us....
Stuart Ng Books has been around since 1997, and we've done our share of conventions during that time. We have expanded the amount of material we bring... but our "staff" is still just us, and our friends and family who volunteer to help us. We are always striving to meet our expectations, and yours, for the level of benefits and service we can provide. However, this "red flag" situation clearly demonstrates there are limits. We cannot risk the health of the very people who make Stuart Ng Books possible.... especially Stuart Ng.
I came close to pulling the plug on our WonderCon 2009. Peggy stayed late on Tuesday to help me continue to prep for the trip, but I was also making contingency plans. I didn't want Stuart to make the trip if he was sick.... and I didn't want him to commit to the Con and end up with a re-lapse during the week.
The drama of the day also meant we had to abandon all hope of finishing up the other unfinished con prep projects... like signage. We were too exhausted to even finish packing the van. We decided to finish loading the van on Wednesday morning and aim for a noon departure.
By Wednesday morning Stuart insisted he was feeling better. I was just as insistent that we take things slowly. We had already lost Tuesday, and if we couldn't get on the road, with confidence, by noon on Wednesday, I had declared the convention a "no go" for us this year....
Loading the van is as much fun as.... helping your friend move... and his apartment is full of cinderblocks. The boxes are heavy. And they start feeling heavier as the load-in progresses. And as usual we are bringing bookcases and shelves too....

Here's a view from the back of the van, where you can see the tables and other shelves that we bring:

So here's the van... all packed (by Stuart, me, Nancy & Peggy) and ready to go.

So was 12:30 PM and it was time to decide..... would we stay or would we go???? As far as I was concerned, we were operating under a "red flag" situation that I was taking very seriously.
These pictures you've been looking at.... I took them to prove we had INTENDED to attend WonderCon.
I didn't think we were ACTUALLY going to get there this year...

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