Friday, November 20, 2009

How Last Friday Night Went Bad

I mentioned that there was some pre-show drama before the Crumb event – here is the story.

I left work early so I could make the 3 hour drive to Austin, have time to check into my hotel and get something to eat, and still make it to the event that night. Everything was running on schedule, and I got to the venue about 25 minutes before the 8PM start. It was at this point that I started making some mistakes that would lead to my disappointment.

I had read that there were going to be a limited number of signed copies of Crumb’s new book available at the event. I definitely wanted to get one if I could, but I didn’t want to skip dinner to arrive early or pay through the nose for one, so I guess my thought was “if I get one, great, if not, thems the breaks”. So when I arrived, I figured they would either be long gone or I would still be able to get one if I went straight to where they were selling them.

The website for the venue seemed to indicate that they didn’t allow cameras at their events. I wondered how strict they were going to be, so I went up to the entrance, sans camera, to see if they were checking people for them. They weren’t, so I walked back to my car to get my point & shoot and stuck it in the front of my jeans under my untucked shirt. (As it turned out, this was a total waste of time because they were pretty serious inside about not taking pictures and I ended up not risking even trying to take any).

I walked back to the venue, tried to look casual, and I got in no problem. It was now only about 10 minutes before 8, so my first order of business was to try and locate the book table. There was a table set up on the right side of the lobby that was serving as a will call pickup area. There was another set of tables set up on the left side of the lobby. I didn’t see any signs or anything, and I thought it was another will call area. Since I had to go to the restroom, I thought I would see if I saw the book table on my way there. Nope. When I came back out I once again went looking for the table. I walked to the other side of the venue and still didn’t see it. Maybe they had already packed up?

It was then that I realized that the tables on the left side of the main lobby were the book selling area. I tried to work my way up to see if I could tell what they had and how much they were selling them for. They had sheets of paper taped to the surface of the table with the titles available & their prices. Holy shit – they were selling signed copies of Genesis for $27.50! The cover price is $24.95. I never dreamed they would be that cheap. I have a signed hardback of a Crumb book that was released in 1998 that I paid $50 for when it came out.

The setup of the table was a little confusing to me. When I see a table (or counter) selling stuff, my natural inclination is that the line flows from the table straight back. You know, like when you buy merch at a concert or a corny dog at the fair. So I got behind a couple of people standing in front of the table. At this point one of the people behind the table asked someone else behind the table how many of something (I didn’t catch what) were left, and the guy said 4. Ruh r oh. The woman in front of me asked for a copy of Genesis, and then it became clear to me that that was what they only had 4 more of. Ruh roh 2! Then it became clear to me that they were expecting the line to flow left to right in front of the table – person 1 took your order, person 2 took your payment, and person 3 gave you a wristband so you could pick up your book after the show. Ruh roh 3!

So I moved over to the left of the table and got in line with a queasy feeling developing in my stomach. There were now 2 people in front of me, and I heard the guy say there were 2 books left. “Please let the guy in front of me be a Spiegelman fan, please let the guy in front of me be a Spiegelman fan” He bought the last copy of Genesis. SHIIIIIT!!!! I actually did say “Son of a BITCH!” out loud. With disappointment I ordered a copy of the singed Spiegelman book they had.

I gotta tell ya – it was a huge kick in the nuts to miss out on that book. I think the thing that made it so bad was that I just barely missed getting one. If they had sold out an hour earlier it would’ve been much easier to take. To think that I did all that screwing around – going back to get my camera, going to the restroom, not checking out the lobby more thoroughly the first time – and still only missed it by that much made it a very bitter pill for me to swallow. Not exactly the frame of mind I wanted to be in as I entered the theater. I did my best to swallow that giant burrito of disappointment and enjoy the show, and I was mostly able to while it was going on.

After the show was kind of tough again, since that was when everyone picked up their books. I went through the line to get my Spiegelman book, and I had to pass right by that box of Crumb books that was sitting there for those with the right wristband. Ugh. I (jokingly, in a dark humor kind of way) thought about grabbing someone’s copy and running like crazy. You know, kind of a Seinfeld/marble rye scenario. I would’ve paid someone $100 for one, but I only had $20 in cash.

My last hope was to go to the bookstore that was responsible for selling them to see if they put aside a few to sell there. They didn’t. A worker mentioned that he had seen one in the back, but it wouldn’t be signed. I told him “That’s OK, don’t worry about it”, but he went and got it and handed it to me anyway. I figured if I was stuck with an unsigned copy I’d save $10 by buying it on Amazon. Only later did I find out that Amazon (and just about everyone else) is currently sold out of it. In fact, Amazon says there’s a 1 to 3 month wait! I forlornly went over to the graphic novel section hoping that maybe, just maybe, there were some signed copies that the employees didn’t know about (of course there weren’t).

As I was standing there with the book the employee had given me, a couple that was standing next to me asked “where did you get that?” I told them that it was a random one found in the back. They had been at the presentation too and presumably missed out on the book there as well. When I saw their disappointment at my reply I (admittedly not knowing the scarcity of even unsigned copies) asked them if they wanted it. They asked if I was sure, and I said “yep” and handed it to them. They seemed so happy, which in retrospect makes me glad. I was able to find one online from an Amazon marketplace-type site, I just hope I actually receive it.

I really have no one but myself to blame, although I do think the bookstore could have done a better job. Like making it easier to figure out where their table was, how the line worked, and limiting people to one copy per person. But them’s the breaks, you know? Sometimes you eat the b’ar, and sometimes, well, he eats you. Don’t get me wrong - I know that if this is the biggest problem I have in life, then things are actually pretty good.



Blogger Michelle said...

Sorry to hear about the book. What a let down.

11/22/2009 1:46 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11/22/2009 1:46 PM  

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