Wednesday, January 18, 2012

HRM Steampunk Symposium - Part II: Adventures in Vending

Continuation from Part I

The Queen Mary is a beautiful ship and one would think that living in Southern California for over half my life, I would have managed a trip up to roam around the vessel and see if there were any ghosts lurking about at least once.

Incidentally, this event was my first trip to the Queen Mary. I had the opportunity a couple years back, but I was 37+ weeks pregnant and my mid-wife didn't want me out of San Diego just in case my daughter decided to arrive early. She didn't, she was 2 weeks late like her brother, but that's another story. ;)

View from the promenade deck of the Queen Mary
As with any show or event I do, there is always last minute sewing that is being done. Most of the time I'm also sewing on the way to or at an event, which also means that I'm usually running on little to no sleep. So per usual I was up until 2 am finished up a batch of vests before I decided that I needed to try and get some sleep before my alarm went off at 5:30 am, get loaded up and be on the road no later than 6:30 am. I actually rolled out of bed at 6 am, scrambled to get dressed and get my clothes & other things packed before Cindy showed up. I wasn't the only one running slow that morning, she actually text-ed me to let say she got up late.

After all was said and done we hit the road about 7:15 am with some much needed coffee in hand, got gas and made it up to Long Beach by 9 am where the real fun began. First we pulled into the general parking area and found a parking space up front, walked to the find out where check in was and then walked over to where everyone was unloading. We talked to the security guard there and he directed us to where we needed to park to unload, so we wandered back to the truck, hopped in and drove out of the parking lot toward the direction of the exit looking for a place to loop around and looked and drove around and looked some more and when we finally resigned the fact that we were doing to have to exit the lot and then drive back in we noticed the road going back towards the Queen Mary and made it the unload area.

The security guard informed us that we needed to unload our stuff into a pile and then move the truck to a parking spot so other people could pull in and do the same. We nodded our heads, looked at each other, chuckled a bit and went to work. For anyone who knows us, Cindy and I do a lot of volunteering with the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronisms) and we can unload and load things like no ones business. We're also pretty good at playing car-tetris too. ;)  The only thing that slowed us down with our unloading was the fact that we had to walk around someone else's stuff to set ours down. I had to chuckle at the expression of the security guard when he saw how fast we had unloaded and had the truck ready to move, we don't mess around.

I got the truck parked back in our original spot and then began the task of loading up the dolly with our stuff. After doing a few shows with grid wall, I've gotten the packing and loading down to a method where I have to make as few trips as possible, mostly because I do a lot of shows where I'm setting up and vending on my own and the fewer the trips I have to make the better.

The loading goes something like this: lay down the 6ft grid wall pieces, lock in the arm of the handcart/dolly and then load all the tubs of merchandise, etc, on top and go. It makes for less carrying and less trips, though  the trade off is that maneuvering can be a bit difficult, but it's not totally unmanageable.

So we make the trek over to the freight elevator that goes from the dock to the ship and wait for our turn. While I'm waiting there, Cindy took some of the smaller items up the stairs and waited for me. I have to say I'm glad I don't have a phobia of elevators as this one was a bit daunting. I think it was the first time that I was ever in an elevator that you had to close the large doors by hand and then closed the accordion style gate and hold the button all the way up until you reached the top and not to mention rickety. Definitely not for the faint of heart. Off the elevator and across the bridge onto the ship we went with some bumps, dips and sliding to deal. We were doing great and were going to be set up in no time!

Of course that is when Murphy decided to show up. "Just to let you know, your grid wall may not fit on the elevator" said one of the other vendors as they walked by.  Cindy and I looked at each other with raised eyebrows and scoffed bit. "It's only 6ft grid wall, I don't see why it shouldn't fit" I stated with a shrug and continued on down the hall to the onboard freight elevator.

Now when one thinks of freight elevator, you think of an elevator large enough for well freight and large boxes, etc., not something with a door that is maybe 30 inches wide and maybe 7 feet tall (if that) and might be 6 feet deep. So you can imagine the looks on our faces when we saw what we had to contend with and that we would have to unload and reload the cart.

So unloading and reloading we went and then came the first catch phrase of the event: "Cardio!". See, the freight elevator deck was 4 flights of stairs below the vendor room so we had the pleasure of hauling 6 pieces of 6 ft grid wall up 4 flights of stairs. Of course I didn't know this until I grabbed the first set of two and started my incline went through the door and looked around only to be told I had three more flights to go and up I went, found our vendor space and then trekked back down. Lather, rinse, repeat with the second batch. by the time I got back downstairs Cindy had everything loaded up and opted to take batch number 3 to the vendor room and I got to deal with getting the dolly into the elevator. I got the dolly all lined up with the entrance, rolled it towards the open door and got stuck, of course it didn't help that on of the tires was going low because of the weight and that the corner shelves for our set up were too wide. Cue me backing up, letting someone else go on and removing the shelves and re situating the load and taking the next  ride up, disembarking and getting the cart to our vendor space. Our trip back down to the dock and  then back up with the rest of our items much more efficient and done in a lot less time with a lot less swearing too.

More to come in Part III =)

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