October 30 - November 1, 2015
by C. J. Lewis
Thursday, October 29:
I was picked up by my airport shuttle right on time at 6:10 am. I was the second of 5 passengers for that shuttle trip. All went well; everyone was friendly as we chatted each other up. We were on time, until the rear van door got stuck open on one stop that held us up for almost 15 minutes, until the driver could make it work. Minor panic ensued from a couple of passengers, who had very tight departure times. The driver was cool and calm and very professional. He did everything possible to get us there ASAP, and we did arrive at SeaTac airport within a couple of minutes of our scheduled time.
Due to a recent accident that injured my legs (on top of severe arthritis) I was not able to stand or walk for any period of time, so I had made arrangements for assistance with the airline. Thankfully the wheelchair station was just inside the entry doors that we had been dropped off at, and I quickly received a wheelchair.
For some reason, my boarding pass would not print correctly when I did it, but no matter, the gentleman who assisted me quickly wheeled me to a special line, got my boarding pass printed, and we were on our way. They didn’t make me stand up for the TSA screening. They put my jacket and backpack on the conveyer belt for x-ray and whizzed me through.
We got on the subway to the terminal and arrived quickly at my gate, then checked in. My wheelchair assistant made me the closest chair to the gate, wished me a good flight, and then left. The agents let me board first. The flight attendants stowed my bag and offered additional assistance. I have to say that Alaska Airlines really came through for me.
The flight was a bit of an adventure, we had a lot of turbulence and the roughest pancake landing I've ever had on a plane. For once, I was glad that they tell you to keep your seatbelt on! This time I was one of the last ones off, and the wheelchair was ready and waiting for me at the door. Again I was whisked efficiently through the airport, to the ground transportation doors. I was just about to pull out my phone to call Diane, to let her know that I had arrived at LAX, when I looked up and she was standing there! We had never met before, but we recognized each other instantly.
Dine told me of the issues she was having with our limo service. We had prepaid for a Lincoln Town Car to pick us up 45 minutes after my flight was supposed to arrive. They had already called her twice, telling her that she had to get picked up when her flight came in, but she told them no, not until I came in to get picked up, too. They told her that she would have to pay a $40 late fee for them to wait for me, to which she reluctantly agreed.
Shortly after we met her phone rang again, and she said that they could come and pick us up now, even though it was still 40 minutes before the scheduled time. We waited patiently until a black car pulled up in front of us. It was not a Town Car, as we had paid for, but a Tesla. Lovely car, but not as roomy, and not as easy to get in and out of with my bum legs.
Diane confirmed that it was our driver, he loaded our bags and we got in. We took off, and once underway the driver informed us that we would have to pay $80 extra, not the $40 Diane had agreed to. Diane quickly told him that she was told it was $40, and that was all she planned to pay. The driver pulled over and stopped, and told us that he would not go on without the $80. I couldn't believe it. It felt like we were being hijacked for ransom, now that we were in the car, in his hands.
Diane handled it better than I would have, demanding the number for their customer service department. She talked with customer service, to make the driver accept the $40 as had been agreed, and was polite but firm. At the same time the driver was on the phone with his boss, who was insisting on $80. What a mess!
Eventually customer service talked with the driver's supervisor, confirming that Diane had been told $40, and the driver was told to accept that amount and get us to our destination. So much unnecessary drama to start our weekend with. After 10 minutes, we were finally on the way to our hotel.
The hotel was very nice and very accommodating. Diane had reserved a higher floor room, to keep us away from the convention partiers. And when we arrived, we also asked for an accessible room, to accommodate my physical issues, and the hotel changed rooms for us without a blink of an eye.
We unpacked. Diane had shipped books and photos to the hotel, and she had them brought up to the room. I had my laptop computer that had a built-in DVD player. I'd also packed an HDMI cable; that I hooked up to the big-screen TV on the wall. Diane emailed David, to let him know that we had arrived. We relaxed and played some Voyage DVDs that Diane had brought.
Not long afterward, Sherry called to let us know that she had arrived. We decided to go to the convention center to scope out the place and get our badges, so we wouldn't be waiting in a long line on Friday to get them. The contracted shuttle service from the hotel dropped us off at the convention center. It was not immediately apparent where we should go to pick up our badges, and the volunteers we asked were not particularly helpful, so we found a place for me to sit while Diane investigated. Diane went off in search of badge pick-up, and I think that she walked all the way through the convention center twice before getting the right location and directions. She finally got directed to where we were able to pick up our badges.
It was approaching dinner time, so we took a cab to a downtown bar and grill. We were early enough to beat the crowd, so we got great seats and good service. The food was good as well. By the time we left, there was a line out the door, so we had obviously made a good choice.
When we got back to the hotel we put a
DVD on to play, Mach 2. Sherry came up with us for a little while, checking out
the books and photos that Diane brought. She purchased some, and then called it
a night. After a little more DVD watching, unpacking and organizing, Diane and I
hit the sack as well.
Friday, October 30:
We got off to an intentionally slow start on Friday morning. Since David wouldn't be at the convention until Saturday, we figured that we had plenty of time to check out the other hall. The convention didn't open until 1 P.M., anyway.
Diane went down to the free breakfast buffet. She brought me up a plate of food, before going back down to get her own breakfast. It was nice that they had a full breakfast, not just the usual pastries and fruit. We took away fruit and yogurt, so we wouldn't have to buy lunch if we didn't want to. I had also brought snacks (oatmeal cookies, almonds, granola bars) that I loaded into my backpack.
After breakfast, Diane walked two blocks to Ralph's grocery store for supplies for the table, after which we called Sherry. We went together on the hotel shuttle to the convention center. Once there, Sherry and I found a seat, while Diane went on the seemingly impossible quest to get a wheelchair for me to use (the convention materials had promised that wheelchairs would be available to convention-goers.) She was run all over the place, before finally locating the last wheelchair to be had.
After swinging by to get my ID, to trade for the chair, she returned with a wheelchair that had seen better days. It also had no footrests. But it was better than nothing, so I limped aboard. Diane was amazing, pushing me everywhere I/we needed to go. I owe my entire convention experience to her willingness to help me out.
We decided to find David's booth before anything else, even though he wouldn't be there, so we would know where to go on Saturday. After a little trial and error, we found row 19 and counted down the booth numbers. When we approached the booth where David would be, we were astonished to find him sitting there!
I had never met David, and the primary mental image that I had of him was his portrayal of Captain Lee Crane from the television series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Fifty years ago. But even with his white hair, white beard, and glasses, there was no mistaking that this was David Hedison. He still had that smile that spreads all the way to his eyes, as well as that distinctive voice, even though it is a bit more gravelly with age.
Diane pushed me up to the table right in front of David, and told him that he wasn't supposed to be there. David said, rather indignantly; that the convention had messed up the schedule and that there were autograph signings on Friday.
David's photos were laid out on the table, ready to go. A woman that we didn't know, Lauri, was seated next to him to assist him. Diane quickly took a photo of David to upload to Facebook, to let people know that he was there despite what the convention schedule had listed. She had some difficulty with the slow Wi-Fi, but she eventually got it to post.
Diane told David that she had money for him and items to sign, back at the hotel room, and that she would go get them. He was obviously pleased to see Diane, and about the money she already had for him, but he told her it could wait until Saturday. Diane decided to go and get them, anyway. She introduced Sherry and I to David, and left.
I started looking at the photos David had for sale. Even though I had a couple of signed photos of David, and had already purchased a couple of books for him to sign, I had decided to get a photo from The Fly at the convention. When David started talking, I thought that he was talking to Lauri, but when I looked up, he was talking to me.
David asked me what I thought about the case of the teenager who killed several people while driving drunk, but who was only sentenced to probation. Now people refer to him as the "Affluenza" teen, because his defense was that he was raised by wealthy parents to have no sense of responsibility for his actions.
I hesitated for a moment - gee, if we didn't agree, this could be awkward - but then I decided that David wouldn't have asked me, if he didn't want an honest answer. Thankfully, we were in agreement on the issues - that being wealthy is no excuse, that parents should raise their children to be responsible for their actions, that the court should have given him sterner consequences for his behavior, etc. It was a thoughtful discussion that I didn't expect to have with him, but one I sincerely enjoyed.
I eventually settled on the colorized photo from The Fly. As I purchased it, and David got ready to sign it, I asked him if he could sign it to Al from Al Hedison. "Al?" he asked, in a puzzled tone.
I explained my request to him. I knew that his given name was Albert David Hedison Jr., and that he was listed as Al Hedison in the credits for the movie. I explained to him that my nickname from high school was "Al." I once was playing poker with friends, when I was taking too long to make a decision, whether to bet or to fold. Someone called out, "Quit calculating the odds, Einstein, and make your bet!" Everybody cracked up. After that, my given nickname was Al, or Albert, after Albert Einstein, the late genius.
David laughed at hearing my story. He carefully signed my Fly photo: Dear Al..."Help Me!"...Al David Hedison. He grinned at me as he handed it to me. I grinned back, after I read it. I thanked him and told him it was perfect. Which it was.
David asked, "You play poker, do you?"
I told him that I have played poker since I was young, and that I had a little success at playing tournament poker, but that I didn't play much anymore. I also told him that any time he was up in my neck of the woods; he was welcome to come and sit in on my home game. He laughed at that as well. Diane had told me that David's family all enjoyed playing cards, and it was nice having something in common to break the ice.
David has the ability to engage with you and make you feel comfortable talking with him, a skill which I admire. Having attended other conventions and interacted with actors and sports celebrities, believe me when I say that, they don't all make the effort. David does.
Right then a customer came up to the table and started looking over David's photos, so I wheeled myself out of the way. As much as I was enjoying chatting with David, I didn't want to get in the way of business.
Diane came back with all of her materials, within the hour. She quickly opened her rolling suitcase and began unwrapping books and photos for David to sign. David was somewhat bored, it wasn't that busy, and he was impatient to start signing. He pressed her as she was setting up the book box and sign on his table. She eventually took out some money and set it down on the table in front of him to keep him quiet.
David looked at me, grinned and winked. "Now I can retire." He tucked the money into his pocket. Within minutes Diane was helping him with photo signings and personalizations for the pre-orders that she had taken.
Apparently David had left his hearing aids at home, so Diane was speaking loudly and clearly as she helped him through the pile of signings. David seemed a bit frustrated, but he did fine. I tried to help Diane organize and stow away the signed materials as he finished them.
Diane gave David some almonds to snack on. He doesn't take a lunch break at conventions, so she knows to provide him with snacks to get him through the day. Although he initially set them aside, it didn't take long for him to open the bag of nuts and start eating.
Gary Lockwood, co-star of the science fiction classic movie "2001: A Space Odyssey" was in the booth right across the aisle from David. He and David obviously knew each other. Gary came over to visit with David when it was slow, and vice versa. Gary ended up walking away with David's package of almonds, so we didn't know how much David actually got to eat. I pointed out to Diane that Gary had made off with David's almonds, and she provided David with a granola bar and an oatmeal bar that he quickly stashed in his leather bag.
It wasn't very busy Friday afternoon, so Diane had a chance to catch up with David, and we all chatted each other up. Diane was kind enough to push my wheelchair around so I could see more of the convention. She really gave of herself, pushing me around multiple times so that I would have a great con experience that I couldn't have all on my own. Sherry came and went a couple of times, returning to sit on the floor at the back of David's booth because there were no extra chairs. I felt bad that she was sitting on the floor, but there was nothing that I could do about it.
Back at David's booth, I tried to take pictures of Diane and David. They seemed very comfortable with each other, the result of years of working together. Diane wasn't making it easy for me to snap her, but I eventually got a couple of shots. She was terrific, explaining many of the odd costumes that I didn't recognize on the convention-goers that wandered by David's booth.
The only other celebrities at the convention that I really wanted to get a signed photo of were Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood of "2001: A Space Odyssey." Fortunately, they directly across the aisle from David's booth.
I went over to meet them, starting with Gary. I told him that I had enjoyed his performance in "2001," that it was one of my all-time movie favorites. And that, in my opinion, it was one of the best sci-fi movies of all time. Gary thanked me, but then immediately challenged me as well. He told me that "2001" was not only ONE of the best sci-fi movies of all time, but that it was THE best. He was quite garrulous, challenging me to name any sci-fi movie that was better.
I was a little taken aback, but we had a lively conversation about the best sci-fi movies of all time while I was deciding on a photo. I decided to purchase a very nice 11" by 14" photo of him and Keir from a pivotal moment in "2001." It was also the photo that was blown up to make the banner that hung on the back curtain of their booth.
Gary tried very hard to "upsell" me, to get me to purchase a similar photo that was of better quality but also more expensive. I turned him down, as I only had so much money for the weekend, but I let him know that I would have happily purchased it if I had a different budget.
After Gary signed my photo, he got Keir's attention in order to get him to sign the photo, too. Keir was a bit more reserved than Gary. He shook my hand and asked my name, so he could autograph it to me. Keir was very polite and professional. Both Gary and Keir consented to a photo with me. They wished me well as they returned to their seats. I returned to the back of David's booth.
It was interesting watching David with his fans. He was very gracious, giving each one his undivided attention and chatting with them as long as they wanted.
David tried his best to personalize photos exactly the way the customers wanted, and was careful to be sure that the Sharpie ink was dry and didn't smear before handing the purchased photo to the customer. If someone asked for a photo with him, he never hesitated to get up out of his chair for the picture to be taken. David even told the customers to look and be sure that the photo came out all right, or he would take another until one came out right. Not every celebrity would do that.
Occasionally David would get up and leave for a few minutes, to stretch his legs or go to the bathroom. As he came and went, he seemed to make a point to chat or joke with us in a friendly, easy manner. He was pleased to have people he knew around, especially Diane, of course, whom he's known for years.
He and I had never met, but Diane had told him a bit about me (about my accident and who knows what else). I'm sure that had a lot to do with the way that David and I seemed to hit it off right away, and why we had a comfortable comraderie all the weekend.
The convention was open until 7:00 pm, but David didn't plan to stay that late. It started slowing down quite a bit around 4:30 or so, and he decided to go. By the time he'd gotten organized and on his way, it was closer to 5:00. He told us that he was looking forward to dinner with his wife, Bridget, and that he planned to enjoy a nice glass of Cabernet. I wished him a good dinner and a good evening, and he headed off, accompanied by Diane.
Diane returned 20 minutes later, having seen David safely off. She packed up David's photos into his rolling case, to take with us to our hotel room for the night. Since Diane had both her suitcase case of books and photos and David's suitcase to manage, Sherry was kind enough to push my wheelchair to the aid station where we turned it in. We caught a cab back to the hotel, and got everything stored up in our room.
For dinner, we walked to a nearby diner that Diane had spotted earlier in the day on her way back from Ralph’s. Again, it was perfect timing, the place got packed quickly and there was a line out the door within 30 minutes. It was a place where locals hang out, and our waiter was a real character. The food was plentiful, inexpensive, and good. We walked back to the hotel well-satisfied.
Diane's friend Sue was waiting for us in the hotel lobby when we arrived, and came up with us to our room. She stayed and visited with us for an hour or so. Diane worked on getting all three of us ready with our outfits for Saturday, which happened to be Halloween. We would be representing The Fly" David's classic sci-fi movie. Lab coats, t-shirts with ties on them, bug-eyed goggles, a fly mask, black gloves resembling claws - we would be a sight to see.
Sue had to go and check in to her B & B, so she took off. We put a Voyage DVD in to play, while Diane reorganized and repacked her case for the next day. I repacked my backpack as well, so I could get my two books signed by David. Diane also emailed directions to David so he could park in the right place next time. We didn't stay up too late, as we needed to get up and running early in the morning.
Saturday, October 31:
Saturday morning arrived way too early. Neither of us had a great night's sleep, but we got up and going. Diane again, brought me a wonderful breakfast plate from the hotel breakfast buffet, as we got ready to go. We wanted to be sure to get there in plenty of time to pick up a wheelchair for me and get David's case to his booth to set up on time. Sherry joined us, and we took the hotel shuttle to the convention center.
Diane set off to pick up a wheelchair for me, and again, there was only one available. This one had footrests, but didn't want to roll smoothly. When it did roll, it pulled strongly to one side. Diane did the best she could, and did an amazing job pushing me when needed. I think that she got a week's worth of exercise that day. I felt horrible that she had to work so hard and tried to help push when I could, but it was not pretty.
Before going to David's booth, we had fun taking pictures of us in Fly garb, as well as of other costumed con-goers. I had been to other conventions, but not a "cosplay" convention. I don't know if it was because it was a cosplay con, or because it was Halloween, or both, but the number and style of the costumes were amazing. Star Wars costumes seemed very popular, with the new movie coming out soon.
We arrived around 9:30 A. M., in good time to unpack and set up before David arrived by 10:00. Diane put out a few items that she knew David would use, like hand sanitizer and throat drops and bottled water. She also set up her book display, as well as setting down her Fly mask on his table. We looked at each other at 10:00 A. M,, wondering where everybody was for the scheduled 10 AM start, then looked up to see David on his way in.
David had apparently not parked in the right spot again, and was not happy about it. His assistant for the con, Lauri, was not there yet, so David asked Diane to go ahead and start setting up his table. She did so, even though she had been told not to by Carol, the woman who had booked this con for David. Carol and Lauri showed up a few minutes later, and Carol asked Diane to stop and let them do it. Diane quickly did so, even though she was only doing what David had requested.
Once the table was set up, Sherry and I got our books signed by David. I was quite surprised that David greeted me by my nickname, "Al" - I expected that he would have vaguely remembered me as someone he had seen before, but not my nickname. I didn't specify how I wanted my two books signed, but he signed them in a lovely and personal manner. I know that I was grinning from ear to ear when I read his signature/personalizations on my books, and when I looked up, he had a warm smile, too. He seemed genuinely pleased that I was pleased.
Diane took a photo of David signing a photo, to post to Facebook, to let everyone know that David was there and signing. She was able to get that posted fairly quickly. It appeared that there was nothing left for us to do for David at that time, so we left to check out other parts of the con and try to find a couple of Diane's friends who were supposed to be there. Sherry also left, to see other parts of the con and attend a couple of panels.
We went to the main stage; there was a panel of people talking and answering questions. I didn't recognize any of them, so we moved on. Diane pushed me down "autograph row," where we spotted Nichelle Nichols and Walter Koenig, from Star Trek, and Larry Wilcox and Erik Estrada, from CHIPS. None had any line to speak of. Carrie Fisher ("Princess Leia" from Star Wars) had a bit of a line, but you could not see her unless you paid, she was hidden behind a curtain. I believe her autograph fee was $100.
The con website had advertised a Babylon 5 "reunion," which I was interested in because I had known one of the actors for years and had hoped to say hello and catch up. There were two of the minor actors there, that's all, so I was disappointed and didn't seek them out for a photo or autograph. To be honest, the autograph signings in the South Hall did not seem to be well-organized or well-advertised, more like an afterthought to the con. I'm sure that David was disappointed that he didn't get more business.
When we returned to David's booth, four of Diane's friends were there - Sue, Amanda, Janet and Charlotte, as well as Sherry. They all caught up, chatted each other up, and chatted with David. The ladies purchased a number of photos for David to sign. Multiple photos were taken with David, who patiently complied with each request.
I saw that Amanda had a Voyage calendar that she showed David, and that he seemed to enjoy. I later got a copy of that calendar. It had very nice screen caps from Voyage. Diane really enjoyed the reunion with her friends, and they were a lovely group to meet.
After a while, the group broke up. Sue had to leave to catch her flight, some wanted to see other celebrities, and some wanted lunch. Diane wheeled me, with great effort, to the Food Court, where we eventually all met again for lunch. Most bought some overpriced food, I just ate some of the snacks that I had packed for the day.
Saturday was definitely busier, and David seemed happier. Diane's friends had brought him a lot of business, and the hall seemed busier in general. When it wasn't busy, David would go across the aisle to chat with Gary Lockwood or Keir Dullea, or they would come over to visit him. He would also chat with me, Diane and Sherry as he was coming and going, when there were not customers waiting.
I tried to take a lot of pictures of interesting convention-goers in costume, as well as of David in action. David and I shared some observations on the costumes that we had seen; he has a great sense of humor and made me laugh more than once.
I rolled over to the "2001" table across the aisle, to see if they had any new photos out and to say hello to Gary and Keir. Gary immediately tried to sell me the same "deluxe" photo that he had tried to sell me on Friday. I laughed and reminded him that I had already purchased that photo the day before, just not the expensive version. I also told him that I couldn't blame a guy for trying.
Gary sighed in disappointment, but thanked me for buying the photo. Since it was slow right then, no other customers at his table, he started up a conversation by asking me where I was from and was I enjoying the convention. I told him that, yes, I was enjoying the convention, and that I was from Washington State.
Apparently Gary had lived in the Pacific Northwest for a while, on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. I told him that I was familiar with the area and had visited there several times. Gary proceeded to regale me with stories about living in the Pacific Northwest, what he thought about Canadians versus Americans... Gary liked to talk. Eventually, some paying customers came to the table and I politely excused myself, returning to my corner.
There was a voice actor across the aisle, right next to Gary and Keir's booth that I had chatted with as I was waiting to look at their "2001" photos. Dino Andrade was his name, and he had done voices in quite a few projects, movie, TV and commercial. The only work of his that I was familiar with was the Rice Crispy commercials, in which he was the voice of "Pop."
He came over to David's booth, introduced himself, shook David's hand, and told him that he was a big fan. They chatted for several minutes, during which he purchased one of David's photos (I think The Fly) which David signed for him. Then he returned to his booth. I think it was a highlight of David's day, to have another industry professional say that he was a fan.
I had brought oatmeal raisin cookies for a snack, as Diane had told me that they were David's favorite, and I pulled them out of my backpack mid-afternoon and offered them to everyone in David's booth. Diane offered a broken piece to David, which he quickly consumed. She then gave him a bigger cookie piece that he complained was too much, but which he finished off anyway. I was glad that I brought enough to share, they were delicious.
At one point in the afternoon, I was alone with David in his booth for a few minutes. I think that Diane had gone to refill my water bottle, and Lauri was taking a bathroom break. I wheeled up beside David, in case he wanted any help with customers. He picked up the small bottle of hand sanitizer that Diane had left for him on the table and asked, "What is this?"
I was sure that he knew what hand sanitizer was, but thought that perhaps he didn't recognize the container or packaging. I explained to him that it was hand sanitizer, maybe a good idea to use considering the number of people with whom he exchanged handshakes, money and photos.
David opened the bottle, reached for my hand, and said "You should have some of this, too." He proceeded to pour a bit of hand sanitizer into my palm, then his own. Maybe not a big deal, but a small act of kindness that tells you a lot about the man that David is.
There was a representative from the soon-to-be-opened Hollywood Sci-Fi Museum that visited David's table and seemed to be trying hard to get David's participation in their opening. David consented to visit their display at the con, and walked over to get his picture taken sitting in the captain's chair from Star Trek. I'm not sure how their discussion turned out, because the HSFM rep came to David's table multiple times, to the point that David appeared irritated with his persistence.
There were a lot more people there on Saturday, and a lot more people in costume. The people-watching was amazing. These people were serious about their costumes; many would not have looked out of place on a movie set. I was parked in my wheelchair in the very back corner of David's booth, halfway in the aisle, to be sure that I was not in the way, and watched the con go by.
As the day grew shorter, I only wanted one more thing to make my con experience complete. I wanted a photo with David, standing up. It might sound insignificant to some, but after my accident I had done so many hours of painful rehab to even be able to stand up and walk for a short while unassisted, that this would be a reward for all of that hard work.
Diane asked and David, of course, graciously consented. I pried myself out of the wheelchair, to the concerned looks from everybody watching (including David), hobbled over, and stood next to him for the photo. I was a bit wobbly, having pushed my physical capabilities to their limits several times that weekend (when I didn't have the wheelchair), but I was careful not to hold on to David too hard.
The last thing I needed to do, if I lost my balance, was to pull David down with me! I got my photo and thanked David profusely. He gave me a soft pat on the back as we separated and I returned to the wheelchair-from-hell, and went back to my corner.
A definite highlight of the weekend was Kevin, who came to David's table in a full Fly outfit. He was amazing. His Fly mask was eerily similar to the one that David wore in The Fly, and he was dressed in lab coat and all. David and Diane were both thrilled and impressed. He took a picture with David and compared notes with Diane on how he had made his mask so similar to the one in the film. It was great.
As the late afternoon wore on, David got chilled and asked Diane if she had a jacket. It was chilly in the building, I was cold as well. The outside temperature was in the low 80's, and the Convention Center had the air conditioning on max. Perhaps they thought that the crowds would warm the place up sufficiently, but that didn't happen in the South Hall. Diane gave him her white lab coat to wear, and he wore it over his shoulders for the rest of the day.
Around 5:30 or so David decided to call it a day. He was not planning to return to the con on Sunday, so Diane helped him load up his case with his pictures and he paid his table help. I felt bad that David did not have a more successful convention weekend.
The convention didn't seem to do a good job promoting or presenting autograph signings in the South Hall. Carol, the woman who booked him for the con, didn't have a banner of any kind for the back wall of the booth, like most booths had, nor a table display that showed potential customers who David was. And it was a very young crowd that attended, more interested in selfies than autographed photos, and who had probably never seen David on movies or TV.
As he was leaving the booth with Diane, who was going with him to bring his bag and make sure that he got off safely, David bent down and gave me a kiss on the cheek goodbye. I was totally surprised, as Diane had told me that David was not a particularly kissy-huggy person unless he knew you. I told him that it was very sweet of him, and that I hoped that we would meet again. He gave me a lovely smile and said, "I know we will," and walked off down the aisle.
This was the first time that I met David, and I can see why Diane so enjoys working with him. I found him to be kind, generous, thoughtful, smart, funny, and, of course, charming. I do indeed hope to have the opportunity to meet and spend time with him again.
Diane came back from seeing David off and we packed up to leave. We returned the awful wheelchair and called a cab to get us back to our hotel. At the hotel, Sherry went down to the lobby to see what she could find for dinner from their snack food offerings, no restaurant or room service at this hotel, and returned with a boxed salad. Diane and I decided to make dinner from the doggy bags of leftovers, yogurt and fruit that we had in the refrigerator since we were leaving on Sunday.
We all ate while another Voyage DVD played on the big-screen TV. Diane organized the books and photos that David had signed, for mailing. We were all tired, and Sherry left not long after so she could get up in the morning for the church service that she planned to attend. Diane put another Voyage DVD on to play, and we both crashed before it was over.
Diane was tired and sore from pushing me in the wheelchair-from-hell. I was tired, stiff and in pain from pushing myself to do more than I should have when I didn't have the help of a wheelchair. We both got more sleep Saturday night, the sleep of the exhausted.
Sunday, November 1:
Sunday morning we got up and had breakfast as usual, then organized and packed our bags, to check out. We left our bags in storage at the hotel and headed back to the Convention Center to check out the halls that we hadn't seen yet.
The wheelchair that I got Sunday was far superior to the ones that were available the first two days - it was larger (I'm not a small person) had footrests, and rolled easily and straight. I was very relieved. I didn't want Diane to work as hard as she had for the first two days pushing me.
We visited the West Hall, which was mostly full of vendors. Lots of comics, lots of Funko vinyl pops (little dolls in costumes of well-known TV and movie characters), fake weapons for cosplay, costume items. I took a number of pictures of great costumes. Diane did an awesome play-by-play, explaining various costumed characters to me that I was not familiar with.
I had decided that I wanted to purchase a small memento of the convention. The "mascot" of the convention was an octopus, it appeared both on the program and on the convention website, and is apparently a familiar figure in Japanese anime. We came across a booth that had crocheted octopus figures in various sizes and colors. I purchased a small one that now sits on my desk at work. I told Diane that I was done, didn't plan to spend any more money in the West Hall, so we returned to the South Hall for one last pass.
Diane wanted to go and say goodbye to Keir and Gary, her husband John is a big fan of Keir's. Keir was polite and gracious as he was when I met him. We made one more trip down Autograph Row, and I didn't see anyone that I wanted to spend more money on. The convention was winding down. Diane decided that she wanted to get her photo taken with Casper van Dien, of Starship Troopers fame. He was very nice and the photo came out very well.
We turned in the wheelchair and headed back to the hotel. We retrieved our bags from storage and waited in the lobby for our scheduled transportation to arrive.
The first of us to go was Sherry. There was a mix-up with her shuttle service, and she ended up having to make alternate arrangements to get to the airport, but she eventually did get off.
The car that Diane and I had scheduled and prepaid for came on time. Unfortunately, my flight had been moved up at the last minute. We had planned to have dinner at the airport together, but we barely had time to get my wheelchair and get me to my gate in time to board. I wished Diane a fond farewell, thanking her for making it a wonderful weekend and con for me.
After the interminable length of time that it took for boarding (the flight was overbooked), the pilot informed us that we were on a ground hold. The weather in Seattle, our destination, was so bad that the airport was closed. The airlines' rule was if a safe landing could not be guaranteed, your flight could not take off.
I called Diane to let her know that I was not leaving, at least not yet. We chatted for a few minutes, and then I told her that I'd call her again in the next hour, if I was stuck there. I knew that she had a few hours wait for her flight.
Fortunately, the weather cleared a bit, and we took off less than an hour late. We arrived at SeaTac Airport about 45 minutes late. I had already contacted my shuttle service, and fortunately they had one last shuttle trip available for the night, otherwise I would have had to wait 5 hours for the first shuttle the next day.
Again, the Alaska Airlines staff was terrific. They had offered all of the passengers extra snacks, because of the delay. They pulled my luggage down from where it was stowed, and already had it stowed beneath the wheelchair that was waiting for me when I disembarked. The gentleman that assisted me got me through the airport and right up to the desk of my shuttle service quickly and efficiently, so I wouldn't miss that last shuttle. I ended up getting home only about an hour-and-a-half late.
All in all, I had a terrific convention weekend despite my physical issues. I thank Diane Kachmar; for all that she did for me. And, of course, I thank David Hedison, who I already knew was a talented actor, but who I now know is a lovely human being as well.