Denver Comic Con is, interestingly, not a con that I would go to as an attendee. The main attraction is the “Exhibitor Hall” which is basically a huge shopping plaza for geek stuff. It’s there to stoke consumerist passions, and then sate them (for a fee). I am vigorously against the Owning of Stuff , and so there isn’t anything there for me. Even if I liked something I wouldn’t buy it, so I don’t go. It’s the same reason I don’t go to strip clubs.
But as a volunteer, it was a TON of fun. As mentioned previously, I think the key to defeating Existential Angst is to Do Things That Matter. Anything. Simply put, Do Stuff is the answer, whereas Own Stuff is the sham cure that Capitalistic Entities are selling you. Do Stuff is cheaper – many organizations will let you simply Do Stuff with them for free. The Denver Comic Con people are one such organization, they were more than happy to take a couple hundred of us, give us some basic training, and organize us into a Stuff Doing force, without charging us a single dollar for the experience. :) I got to meet a lot of cool people, get a lot accomplished, and help put on a large convention for other people like me. I flirted with a couple girls, got to attend the panels I wanted to attend, and made some connections with people who are good at taking abstract dreams and doing the dirty work of turning them into reality. I really recommend doing this sort of thing a couple times a year. It’s no wonder church groups are so strongly bonded, if they’re out doing this sort of thing all the damn time!
Particularly memorable was my brief stint on the Exhibitor Hall, where I was needed for a while. I was told to pass out bottled water to the artists who needed it in the “Artists Alley” section. The Exhibitor Hall is PACKED with walking, talking, sweating bodies from open to close, and it’s a LARGE space. It gets hot quickly, and stays that way. Every single time I offered someone water they looked me in the eye and gave me a heart-felt “Thank you” – even the ones who declined the water. To be thanked like that, over and over, for 30+ minutes straight… damn it makes you feel good!!
I had originally only signed up for one day of volunteering, which comes with a free attendee pass for another day. Before I left I signed up for a second day of volunteering and gave my pass away, because it was much more fun and fulfilling to be involved.
Unrelated, but an interesting side-note:
Initially I walked the aisles with four bottles of water, two in each hand. When doing so, artists were far more likely to say “no, I’m ok” and pass on the water. There was a feeling of scarcity that made people assess whether they actually needed the water, and if they did not they let someone else have it that would need it more. This generosity was very uplifting. Later on I switched to hauling an entire box of water bottles with me, to speed up the process. Now that it was clear there was an abundance of water, nearly everyone took a water bottle, even those who already had one half-full besides them (because if there’s so many available, why not have one saved for later?). Some people requested two. This turned out to be unfortunate, as we didn’t have as much water as carrying around boxes of it seemed to imply. But the artists had no way of knowing that, they were simply responding to the information they were being presented. I’ve read about this phenomenon before, but nothing really teaches you something like actually experiencing it first-hand. I won’t be forgetting this lesson for a long time.