April 22, 2005
The “ambience” of the trains passing through Union Station did not prove to be a problem during the night. That’s because the noise was drowned out by the thunderstorms that passed through the city. Hopefully the storms would keep the line to get in the convention center down to a minimum.
I got out of bed at 4:30 and promptly showered and dressed, got my backpack ready and headed out the door. While the rain had already stopped, it looked as if it could start up again at any time. I considered going to the parking garage to get some rain gear out of my truck but left my keys back in the room. I chose to take a chance that it wouldn’t rain and headed for the convention center.
The line at the convention center wrapped around the corner again. I dropped a “son of a bitch” bomb that drew a few laughs from those already in line. I wanted to call them bastards but realized I was laughing at people for the same thing the day before. To my great relief the line stopped well short of the steps leading to the roof. I was in line by 5:30. The doors wouldn’t open until 9:00.
I spent the next three-and-a-half hours talking to the guy next to me in line, Charlie from Toledo, Ohio. Charlie was one of the most fascinating people I’ve ever talked to. A first generation American and Vietnam veteran, he works at the Fox TV affiliate in Toledo. He has three grown sons and a two-year old daughter that he and his wife adopted from China. Naturally, we talked about our love of Star Wars and what we hoped to get out of this weekend. We also talked about sports and politics and shared stories about our travels. He gave me a Who’s Who List of famous people he has met through his work. Among them he has met Muhammad Ali, Elvis Presley, presidents, various politicians, celebrities and famous athletes. The great thing about speaking to Charlie was that, for all of his stories, he was still interested in the stories I shared with him.
As Charlie and I spoke, he called one of the two sons he brought with him. His sons were staying at the hotel until the line started moving. Charlie asked his youngest son to bring him his rain jacket since it looked like it might rain. A few minutes later his son arrived with the jacket. Charlie removed the coat he was wearing and put on his rain jacket. He offered to let me wear his coat in case it started raining. I thanked him and declined his invitation, saying I didn’t think it was going to rain. My forecasting skills proved to be good enough to land a job as a TV meteorologist since it started raining about five minutes later. Charlie handed me his coat and insisted that it would be stupid of me not to wear it. This time I accepted his invitation.
Apparently the doors were opened early because the line started moving around 8:50. As we approached the entrance, Charlie and his son decided to get in the store line first to get the exclusive figures. I was going to head straight for the Gentle Giant booth to get the exclusive sandtrooper bust.
I removed the coat when we reached the foot of the steps to the entrance and was ready to hand it back to Charlie. He and his son took off running for the store line as soon as they hit the door. I stood there stunned for a few seconds holding out his coat. I attempted to catch up with him but lost them in the crowd. Figuring they would be in the store line for a few hours, I got in the line for the Gentle Giant bust.
The line for the bust was yet another long line, hugging the walls of the Exhibit Hall. The line was supposed to be a Fast Path line, a new feature at Celebration III. Fast Path lines were designed to give a person a ticket with a specified window of time during which they could move to the front of a line and not have to wait countless hours. Once a person had a ticket for the bust they could return anytime during the day to pick up their item.
It took forty minutes for me to get a ticket for the bust. By the time I got the ticket, I was only tenth in line. I decided to just stay in line and get my bust.
There was another exclusive item being sold in the booth next to Gentle Giant. This exclusive was a 3-D, sculpted Empire Strikes Back theatrical teaser poster. The dominating figure in the poster is Darth Vader. I got in the line for that exclusive knowing that Charlie and his son would still be in the store line for a couple more hours.
I called Jerry at work with another “I’m a loser in another line” update. I was telling Jerry about Charlie and how I still had his coat when I spotted Charlie looking for me in the Gentle Giant line. I flagged him down and he came to get his coat. He told me that the store set up a “figures only” line, cutting his waiting time down to fifteen minutes. We had a good laugh about the coat, thanked each other for the conversation and wished each other luck with the rest of the weekend. The whole time Charlie and I were talking, Jerry was on the other end of the phone laughing. Unfortunately, the posters were sold out when I was down to eighth in line.
I walked around the Exhibit Hall for a while picking up free items, looking at the different displays and checking out the costumes. I took a quick look through the program guide to see what was coming up and saw that the Episode III Spectacular was just over an hour from starting. I quickly headed for that line.
The line for the Spectacular was so long that event organizers capped off the line for the 11:30 show at 10:30. Those of us attempting to get in line were told to come back in an hour or so. Disgruntled, I decided to take my stuff back to my hotel room.