Last Wednesday, I drove out to a building on a hill in West Valley City. The reason? One of several orientations for volunteers gearing up for Salt Lake Comic Con FanX in April.
I don’t know why I was so surprised at this, but there were quite a lot of people crowded into that large break room on the second floor of the building, which serves as the home for a few companies as well as the printing services for a pair of large Salt Lake City newspapers. We hadn’t even received the meeting dates, times and places until about a week before they happened, and there were many people panicking about conflicting schedules potentially preventing them from attending.
Maybe that sounds weird to other people, this whole idea that there are several hundred northern Utahns so excited to give up several hours, maybe even days, donating their time to be part of a rapidly growing event. And they were excited. Even when the organizer told us that none of us would be able to work as volunteers assigned to celebrities due to issues from the last convention. Even when he described how certain volunteers who were up for it would spend all three days of the convention on their feet with minimal breaks and minimal downtime, trying to keep everyone and everything going smoothly for the thousands upon thousands of guests expecting to converge onto the convention.
Why am I mentioning this? Well, I likely won’t have a chance to write a column about my volunteering experiences at the actual FanX event in April, as it’s the weekend right before finals and thus the weekend right after we wrap up the semester’s publishing run. I just want to let people know a tiny bit of what goes on behind the curtain of such a large, popular event, especially since there were many unhappy experiences last convention due to the utterly unanticipated number of attendees. And also, maybe, I want to share with you how great these people are.
I remember the stereotypical geek being some sort of shy, glasses-wearing, socially awkward boy or girl locked up for hours at a time in a room somewhere. That stereotype is still fairly common, but with Comic Con attendance being the new cool thing nowadays, it’s going away bit by bit. However, the geeks I met last week weren’t any more shy, glasses-wearing or socially awkward than the next group of random people. They were outgoing and talkative, considerate and curious. We all likely had different motivations being there, but it seemed fairly apparent to me after only a short while of listening and talking to different people that many of our reasons for being there were about the same.
We are the sort of people who find this sort of thing fun.
We like being involved in things we are passionate about. We share a love of learning, of experiencing, of sharing our passions with other people. We know our strengths, and we know how to use them. At the very least, we’re like many people in that we like to feel a part of something bigger. Something awesome.
My fellow geeky volunteers and I are not shut-ins. The stereotype of introverts who struggle to connect with other people should be replaced with one of cheerful, enthusiastic people who love to share in their passions. I’m excited more so now than ever to volunteer with the FanX crew. And by the by, if you find yourself at the Salt Palace Convention Center that weekend in April, give a volunteer a high five. You both deserve it.