Con+Alt+Delete 2017

Con+Alt+Delete is Anime Midwest's little sibling, held every year shortly before Christmas. This year it was held over the weekend of December 15-17, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare. However, this year they'd moved the dealers' room from those awful cramped basement rooms to one of the big ballrooms.

Because we didn't want to stay at the main hotel, we found a decent place nearby. We drove up to it on Wednesday, since we didn't want to have to deal with Chicago rush hour traffic. We might have been able to get through after morning rush hour on Thursday, get checked in, and still have time to load in, but we really didn't want to push it. By driving up on Wednesday, we were able to start load-in rested and not frustrated from having to fight traffic.

As it turned out, traffic was pretty smooth most of the way up. We did have a hangup at the Jane Byrne Interchange, but since we were going straight through rather than getting off on I-290 (the Eisenhower Expressway to locals), it wasn't nearly as much of a hangup as it tends to be when we were on our way to Windycon in past years. We arrived at the hotel in good time and got checked in, then settled in for the evening. We had supper, then I did some reading and dug in on rewriting a novel I'd been working on for a while.

On Thursday we got up and had the hotel's complimentary breakfast. They have a restaurant and bar, and have their breakfast nook along one side of it. It's an unusual arrangement, and for a moment my husband was worried that it might not be complimentary. But when he checked with the front desk, they confirmed that no, we would incur no additional charges.

Because load-in didn't start until late that afternoon, we could afford to take things easy. However, we did want to be in position to load in and not running way late, so we headed over to the main hotel right after lunch. We parked in the back, figuring that even the hotel's rate for parking was still cheaper than the difference between their room rates and the rate where we were at -- and the main hotel doesn't have a complimentary breakfast. Because we had so much time to kill, we found a good spot to sit and I pulled out my novel to do some more work. However, the light wasn't the greatest, which made it difficult to work with those faded old printouts from a printer that tended to run through toner before the cartridge's mechanism wore out, so that an Economode was an actual savings instead of a false economy.

Finally they got the dealers' room set up for us, and we could start loading in. I was able to purchase a discount parking package from the hotel which would give us in and out privileges, so I didn't have to worry about paying a second time after we got unloaded and they'd want our vehicle out of the loading area. Then it was just a matter of getting everything hauled inside as fast as I could, through two sets of glass doors. Later they told us that we could've used a roll-up door leading into the employee parking lot, but by that point I had an unstable load and didn't want to try to move the van.

Once I got the van unloaded, I drove it back to the parking lot and ran through the hotel back to the dealers' room. I tried to get as much done on building the structures, but between the delay in starting and the difficulty of dealing with those doors, we weren't even started on putting together the figurine hutches when we were told we needed to get going. There was nothing to do but head back to our hotel and try to get some sleep.

On Friday we got up and had the hotel's breakfast. Then we headed over to the main hotel to finish building our structures and get our merchandise set up. We ended up running way behind, and we decided to not even put up a lot of the Western figurines. They could just be held in reserve so we could replace things that sold and avoid having our displays looking picked over by the end of the weekend.

Even with not getting set up until a couple of hours after we opened, we had a decent number of sales over the course of the day. I also ran up to the con suite and grabbed some ramen for us, which was a welcome refreshment after all that hard work.

In the evening we headed back to our hotel to wind down before turning in for the night. I managed to do a little scribbling on the novel, but I was too tired to do much serious work.

On Saturday we got up and headed back over to the main hotel. At least this time we didn't have to rush so hard, but we did still need to get some signs up, and I wanted to sort through some merchandise under the tables to make it easier to find backstock at need. As a result, I didn't have any time to walk around and look at other vendors' setups.

Sales continued to be pretty good, and we were actually selling some fairly big-ticket items. However, I also had some chances to run over to the con suite and grab ramen for us to eat. But by the time we were done for the evening and headed back to the hotel, I felt pretty confident that we had paid for the hotel and were well on our way to paying for our space, even at the increased rates that had gone into effect this year.

When we got back to our hotel, we actually had some time for a leisurely meal and some rest. I did some more writing, and I read some more of the book I'd brought.

On Sunday we had to gather up our belongings and get everything out to the van so we could check out in a timely fashion. We didn't want to have to fight Chicago traffic on Monday to leave, so we'd arranged a stay at a hotel in Merrillville, in northwestern Indiana just off I-65. Still, it meant that we had to get over to the main hotel in good time after taking care of the paperwork of settling up with the place we'd been staying.

Even with all that hassle, I was able to get the van parked and get over to the dealers' room in time to do some looking around. I talked to the people from a convention that might be a possibility for filling a gap in our schedules, although further research revealed that it is run by people who've tended to reject us in the past, so it might not be much of a possibility.

Then I got back to our setup to wait for customers to start pouring in. We needed to have a good, strong finish for the weekend if we were going to catch up financially from the hard flop of this year's Windycon.

I was glad to see the sales coming in at a reasonably good clip. I did have a chance to snag some ramen at the con suite, which was helpful for keeping our energy level up.

Then it was time to start packing so we could load out in a timely fashion. I started with merchandise that had received relatively little attention over the weekend, but in time it became necessary to start packing things that people had shown interest in. We had just too many small, fragile things that required individual attention if we were going to have any hope of getting it all boxed up and out of there in a timely fashion.

Even so, we still had a fair amount to pack when the doors closed at the end of the con. Fortunately, two staff members showed up and helped us finish packing and load out. They did a great job of boxing the t-shirts tight but not bursting, and we even ended up with an empty box at the end. I also had a number of figurine boxes that were empty, and some of them actually were able to nest inside other boxes, which went a long way to reducing the cargo volume we needed to deal with.

Finally I brought the van over to the side lot and we started hauling stuff out. We were fortunate to have dry pavement so that I could spread merchandise out and sort what I needed next, because I kept getting things that went in after things that had yet to arrive. It was often hard to communicate what I needed next, because I knew what boxes I needed but couldn't figure out good ways to describe them so that a stranger would be able to identify them on sight.

As a result of spending a lot of time just trying to keep busy while I waited for the next load to come out, we were one of the very last people out. We did both want to make last-minute restroom visits before we hit the road, since we had a long way to go.

Fortunately, we didn't have any trouble getting through the Chicago expressway system, and we arrived at our hotel in Merrillville about an hour later. However, it was still after the hot tub had closed for the night, so there could be no question of our going for a nice soak and relaxing our sore muscles. Nothing to do but carry in our belongings and have supper, then turn in for the night.

On Monday morning we got up and had the hotel's complimentary breakfast. Then we packed back up and got our stuff loaded out. The wind had really come up, and I had some trouble with cans escaping our recycling bag and trying to blow away. But we were still able to get going in time to make some important stops.

The mall was a waste of our time, since the Vitamin World there had already closed. We'd been warned when we had come back after Windycon, but we'd been hoping it wouldn't actually close for another day or two. So we went up to the gas station with the cheaper gas, then back to the bank to make the deposit. At least this was a nice substantial one, if not quite as hefty as I'd been hoping for.

At first, the drive back to Indianapolis wasn't that difficult. However, by the time we approached the Lebanon exits, weariness was crowding back in on me. I'd already drank two Monsters, and I was hesitant to drink a third in such rapid succession. However, even regular caffeine wasn't quite doing the job, and I was very happy to pull into the driveway and shut the van down. Those last few miles within Indianapolis got rather hairy, and there were more than a few times when I had to fight a certain urge to drift off mentally.

Copyright 2017 by Leigh Kimmel

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Last updated December 23, 2017.