The 'That Guy' virus

Just about every story told by anyone who has ever worked retail in this side of the galaxy begins with the phrase, "There was this guy…"

With it comes the unspoken understanding: Don't be that guy.

Given the way this universe works, it seems highly likely that "that guy" doesn't actually exist. Instead, what we're likely to be dealing with is a highly invasive microorganism which jumps to host to host, infecting them with a strange kind of temporary insanity that compels them to go to the nearest grocery store.

Thus, I ended up driving to Kroger at 1:30 a.m. in Suzan's truck to buy thirty ounces of marshmallows, suddenly crazed by the cumulative effects of this bizarre organism.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, for a period of about fifteen minutes, I was that guy. On, in my case, that customer.My job at dragon*con is twofold. First, do whatever Suzan needs me to do to help her run Harris. She is the mastermind. I am one of many grunts who do her bidding.

Second (and this is the only one that has any bearing whatsoever on this whole microorganism-blamed story) job: feed the geeks.

It's simple, really, when you do the math. If you consider that load-in for the convention began at eleven a.m. on Thursday, and consider that the convention will end sometime on Monday (let's say five p.m. for ease and simplicity), then the total number of hours in the convention are somewhere around 102, depending on how you were raised to believe mathematics works on your planet.

The typical tech staffer works somewhere between fifty and seventy hours. (I should note that the requirement is only 20, and that yes, we do this willingly.) Last year, for example, I worked right at 60 hours, so let's use my number as an excellent example. Subtract 60 from 102 and you're left with 42 hours of non-work time, spread over a time period of five days and four nights.

If you assume that we start working the moment we wake up and fall asleep the moment we finish our shifts, that means we are averaging ten hours of sleep per night.

This is, quite frankly, crap. Factor in things like time for seeing convention events, imbibing a drink or two, radio parties, and other worthy activities, and what you've got are a group of people who are working all the time, partying in the spare, and planning on making up the lost sleep over the coming weekend.

These people forget to eat. That's where I come in.

("…Alice? Remember Alice?" Bonus points for naming the artist and title matching that snippet of lyric.)

While the staffers are perfectly capable of pulling long shifts without my assistance, I make it easier. They ask to be fed/brought Gatorade/rehydrated, and I either get the needed items to them or send a runner to do so.

Last year, we mounted a massive Sam's Club run, and on a whim, we picked up Rice Krispie treats.

We figured the group would enjoy the RKTs, snarf down a few, and that would be that. Instead, the RKTs evaporated on exposure to the air of the convention. Approximately 0.000005 seconds after announcing their existence, the RKTs were gone. Completely gone.

Thus I made a note to myself: "Rice Krispie Treats. Make them, don't buy them, given that we'll eat about eighteen pounds of them if given the chance."

So tonight, I made the first food run for Feed The Geeks 2002. We bought what we thought would be the necessary bits for making RKTs: two large boxes of Rice Krispies, three packages of marshmallows, and a good bit of margarine.

Three batches later, I hadn't even finished the first box of Rice Krispies. It was one a.m., and I was facing a serious dilemma. Let someone take the already-purchased box of Rice Krispies home, or find my shoes, borrow Suzan's truck, and drive out to the 24-hour Kroger to buy even more marshmallows.

Never mind the fact that this size of a purchase of marshmallows—just marshmallows, mind you—would mark me as either a loony or, more likely, a pothead with a frighteningly specific craving.

In other words, that guy.

Mumbling something along the lines of "Screw it, it's going to cost something like three dollars more, and they'll be eaten in twenty-four hours anyway," I found the shoes and keys, and made my way back to Kroger.

Bought the marshmallows.

Got to watch a cop car in hot pursuit while driving back to Brian and Suzan's.

Realized that my finding this funny was due equally to the lateness of the hour and the seriousness of my infection with the That Guy virus.

I've got clothes in the washer (trust me, after today's exertions, "fresh as a daisy" is one of the top three expressions that won't get used to describe me until I get a shower tomorrow morning) and I've got one last batch of RKTs to make.

So what if I had to be That Guy to make it happen. Only those tech staffers who read this website will ever know.

Oh. Wait. That would be Thomas, Oompa, Kat, Sean, Jeremy, Brian, Suzan, and Jeff. (…and those are only the ones I know about.)

I am so dead when this story gets out, and get out it most certainly will. Meanwhile, I'm going to make more RKTs, harvest whatever wild caffeine is lurking in the kitchen, and hope that I'll manage to fall asleep sometime soon.

Look at it this way; you've gotta like your friends if you're willing to make six batches of Rice Krispie Treats for them after midnight. Here's hoping the 'That Guy' virus will be gone by morning.


My years in SGA have caused me to be "That Guy" on several occasions. I've long gotten past the weird looks and moved on with my life.

What's so wrong about going to the cash register with 500' rope, a gallon of lighter fluid, a pickaxe, a box of Twinkies, a teddy bear, a box of hollow points, and a pound of butter? Sounds like innocent, normal shopping.

i agree with andy here, what scares me are the stores that sell all that stuff n the same place... "sir, would you like some 3M teflon spray for your hollow points? we have a 2 for 1 deal down aisle 4!"

Ahhhh, Wal-Mart. :)

Even better is going to a place like Costco where you can get the 1500 gallon barrel of peanut oil, a couple of tarps, and and Olson Twins DVD.

I wonder if they have sensitivity training for their cashiers ... ;)

I would hope not! If they had sensitivity training, then they wouldn't appear shocked. Shocking cashiers is half the fun.

Yours appear shocked? Most of the time, the ones around here just stare blankly and keep on going. The summer I worked at a convenience store, I just kept a passive mien and asked to see their driver's license.