By Jerry Chandler
Everybody plans out their Dragon Con weekend. Even those of us who offer as a suggestion you don’t try to plan too heavily or get too detailed with the planning still end up planning out more of our days than we may have originally intended. It is part of the fun after all. Now, whether or not we can make all those plans work as envisioned is another story all together. But, still, we all plan the weekend out to greater or lesser degrees. We all map out the panels and events we want to see. We all make plans for parties. We all set up the get togethers over a meal at places like the Metro Café Diner. Then there are the photo ops, the offsite events, etc., etc., etc.
But there’s something that you don’t often plan for. Relax, this is not turning into an ad for insurance. Although, the boss would probably love such a sponsor for the site. No, this is about one of those things that few people put into their plans for Labor Day weekend or for any large event like Dragon Con, but it’s something you can add in to you plans without much effort, with no real cost to you, and with absolutely no changes made to any other plans you’ve made.
When you have the chance to do so this weekend, thank some of the people you see.
For those of you who don’t know, Dragon Con isn’t a job for the people working the event. Yeah, it’s a job in that it’s a lot of hard work and it involves some long days; not all of them just over the Labor Day weekend either. I mean that it’s not a job that employs staff. The people you see working the convention every weekend- people working the doors, people checking badges, the security crew, the track heads and a host of others -are all volunteers. They do this because they love the convention and they want help share the convention experience with others. These are people who, in many cases, come back year after year to volunteer and help make sure that the convention that we all love goes off as smoothly as possible and that everyone has as much of a good time as legally possible.
These are the people who make it happen for the rest of us every year and pull it all off in such a way that Dragon Con- a giant, multi-media convention running basically for four days without a break and spread out across five convention hotels and two AmericasMart buildings -goes smoothly enough that you don’t get story after story of things gone wrong over the weekend. They work hard to pull this off as close to perfect as possible every Labor Day weekend, and they do it with a lot of things out of their control changing and forcing schedules to be rewritten right up until the end of the con.
Thank them when you see them. Thank them for the weeks and months of work that they did before Labor Day weekend that helped give us the great con experience we tell our friends about for the entire rest of the year. Thank them for keeping that gigantic machine running (mostly) like clockwork all weekend long so that we can all enjoy ourselves as much as we do. Thank them for coming up with the wild and crazy ideas for panels and events that keep us so entertained and desperate to come back next year for more. Thank them for the amazing thing that Dragon Con TV has always been and the even more amazing thing their hard work is turning it into.
Also, thank all of the guys and gals working in the host hotels. When Dragon Con takes place, it’s literally like having one or more small towns all get together in one tight location. Seriously, there are towns in this county with only roughly 20,000 people living in them. Dragon Con is expecting approximately 85,000 people this year. That’s four small American towns all filing into the host hotels at one time this Labor Day weekend. These people are getting slammed over the weekend just as they have any number of Labor Day weekends before this one. From everything I’ve ever seen and experienced, the vast majority of them handle it fantastically and stay as helpful as possible all weekend long.
Thank them when you see them, and tip them when they’re helping you out.
Oh, and thank all of the Atlanta PD officers you see in and around the hotels all weekend long as well. This is a huge weekend in Atlanta with more events than just Dragon Con. Some of these officers are working their days off to cover all of the events Atlanta sees every Labor Day weekend. Some would rather be off and with their families. Some would rather be off and able to dive in and enjoy the fun themselves. But they’re there keeping a tight presence and occasionally handling the very few problem children in our community that come with the intention of doing things other than just sharing the weekend’s fun with everyone else. They’re also out there in the heat on those crosswalks and intersections a lot. I’ve done that in a city that’s not quite as hot and humid as Atlanta. Trust me, it’s not just the same as being out and about and moving around. Give me the option of ten hours of foot patrol vs four hours of traffic control in an intersection or at a crosswalk and I’ll take the foot patrol every time.
Plus, well, there have been incidents this last year at cons and events that had everyone asking what would happen if ‘X’ were to happen or if someone were to try ‘Y’ at this place or that. Those officers are helping to ensure that ‘Y’ isn’t tried here, and that if it does we don’t see ‘X’ at the convention we all love so much. So, yeah, thank them for being there and being a presence when you have the chance.
That’s all I’m asking you add into your plans for the weekend. Make the best plans you can possibly make, have a blast this weekend, joke and laugh with your friends, and enjoy the atmosphere created when roughly 85,000 of your Labor Day friends show up to share the experience that is Dragon Con. But think about adding in a mental note to occasionally slow down long enough to say thanks to a lot of the people that make all of that something that can happen for us every Labor Day weekend.
Jerry Chandler was a volunteer at Dragon Con from 2014 to 2016 and will be again after having a more family focused Dragon Con weekend this year. He’s also been a police officer in a city that has large events during the year, but nothing that compares to the size and scope of the Labor Day weekend festivities in Atlanta, Georgia. Although, he has never worked in a hotel. So one can assume he has no personal biases for that request.