Disclaimer: All of the opinions expressed in this entry are my own and are not associated with Otakorp.
Otakon was just last weekend, and already I can feel the con-withdrawal setting in! This year, I was a gofer for Otakon. For those unfamiliar with the term, we’re simply volunteers: we “go-fer this, and go-fer that”. It was my second year gofering – I liked it so much that I went back for another year! For those who are curious about gofering, here’s my personal experience from this past Otakon.
Thursday started off with a 10 AM gofer orientation. There, we learned a few basic rules: mainly, no touching people and no touching money. Nick and Cousinsue, the two Department Heads of Gofer Ops, regaled us with tales of Otakon past and gave us a quick breakdown of the perks: for every four hours, we’d get a ten dollar meal voucher. As we racked up our hours, we could get gofer T-shirts, Otakon T-shirts, badge reimbursement, and finally, partial hotel reimbursement when we reached the maximum of twenty hours.
After orientation, we headed over to the convention center to pick up our badges – it was great skipping the hours-long badge line that I’m used to on Fridays! We also got special gofer pouches, which many a staff member told me they were jealous of. Once we got our schedules, we started heading off to our shifts.
My first shift was at the Nook (the staff lounge). I was surprised to see that a friend and I would be working the same shift! Since it was Thursday, a lot of this involved setting up. It was fun chatting with the other gofers, and we got lots of work done. Most memorably, we made trail mix for the staff! I won’t hand out the recipe here, just in case it’s a secret, but I will say that it involves a lot of peanuts. When we finished, my friend’s gloves were covered in crushed peanut butter!
Afterwards, I got my first perk – a meal voucher – and went to my next shift at Member Accessibility. There, I worked alongside an awesome staff member named Kim. Together, we processed registrations and gave out Priority stickers. For some reason, the website was very slow about loading, so there were fairly long lines. Luckily, the congoers were very understanding and patient, and I got to have some nice conversations with many of them. I especially enjoyed giving out tips and advice to first-time congoers!
The one thing at Member Accessibility that bugged me was the sunlight – there was an enormous window behind us, and on Thursday there was absolutely no relief from the burning heat. I probably got two shades darker during those two hours! One staff member had the particularly inventive idea of building a cardboard fort for some shade, and one thing led to another until…well, the picture speaks for itself.
The things you’ll do when you don’t have curtains…
Another great thing about gofering is that you can pick your hours. I knew I wanted to see BACK-ON, so I picked my hours so that after my shift, I was able to meet up with a few friends and get to the concert just in time to hear them perform Chain! Since it was my first time at the Matsuri, I was super excited and had a lot of fun.
The next day, I had a four-hour shift at Lost and Found. While that may sound intimidating, the amazing staff and friendly gofers I worked with made the time fly by. It’s noble work, reuniting lost items with their owners! Shout-out to Bacon for being an amazing department head 🙂 Afterwards, I had a short shift at Workshops. It turned out they actually didn’t need me, so I was sent to Gofer Pool – a reserve of gofers from which departments can recruit extra emergency helpers. Come Saturday morning, I had another four hour shift at Lost and Found. During slower hours, we entertained ourselves by waving down at Artist Alley and seeing who would wave back – if you saw anyone in neon yellow or orange waving at you, that was probably me!
Saturday afternoon was my first-ever shift at Registration. It was pretty simple work – keeping the walkway clear and giving out directions to people who needed help. During my shift, I got to snap a few photos of some pretty great cosplays and got to talk to a cool staff member who was cosplaying Ash Ketchum.
I purposefully left my nights free in order to party hard, but right before the rave, I went back to Lost and Found to help out some more (Yup, the people there are that amazing). On my way to the rave, I found a few lost items, so it was back to Lost and Found again! …I hope they’re not all sick of me by now.
Sunday morning was my last gofer shift of the weekend. On my way there, I chatted with an awesome staff member who hopefully does not think I’m a stalker (even though we saw each other at least nine or ten times that weekend!) At workshops, I held an “End of Line” sign. The novelty might have worn off after an hour or two, but since I was only holding the End of Line sign for ten or twenty minutes, I thought it was great fun. Some of the passers-by complimented me on my cosplay, which made me feel awesome! Afterwards, a few other gofers and I helped take inventory of workshop materials. Workshops was my last gofer shift, so once I was finished, I signed out and gave Gofer Ops my hotel receipt. Joining up with a few friends, we spent our last few meal vouchers. I’m glad that my friends all agree: buying Dippin’ Dots is indisputably the best way to spend meal vouchers.
And so ended my 2015 Gofer-con. I had time to check out the dealer’s room, the artist alley, and the rave. I was also able to attend some panels and photoshoots, and cosplay to my heart’s content! True, I did not follow the 6-2-1 rule (5 hours of sleep was enough for me), but keep in mind that I chose to gofer for 20 hours, and that I voluntarily stayed up until 2 at the rave.
Would I recommend it? Without a doubt. Don’t forget, Onii-chan wants YOU.
See you next Otakon!