comiconned

Although I don’t own a bat’leth, I do know what one is. I could have purchased the Klingon sword-like weapon one this weekend while perusing through the hundreds of vendors at the Comicon Expo in Calgary, an event that took my husband and me hours to get into, and in which we spent more time waiting in line than participating in activities. The event was beyond monumental as it was the first time in 25 years that the entire nine-member cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation came together for a convention.
We purchased weekend passes for the event a few months ago as did, apparently, tens of thousands of other fans. Upon our arrival we joined a crowd of thousands of ticket holders and those wanting to buy day passes that were waiting outside to get in. The event had been ordered suspended by the Fire Marshall, with no further entries allowed, until some of the people inside decided to leave the building. Many in line left without ever getting in.
What I find most astonishing is that in typical Canadian fashion, everyone played nice. Polite and patient waiting for hours is somewhat understandable, because honestly there is nothing else you can do. But fans were upset, yet as soon as they gained entry it’s like they were now oblivious to the hours they spent waiting in line. Now I’m not advocating that they should start breaking windows and torching vehicles like the hooligans in Montreal protesting an increase in the country’s lowest university tuition rates, but come on!
Canadians around the world are viewed as “nice” people – and we take pride in this. We’re patient, pleasant, unassuming, and we don’t complain. It reminds me of the scene in the 1995 comedy, “Canadian Bacon,” in which the American president, in order to increase his popularity, starts a cold war with Canada. In one scene, a US sheriff and his cronies push their way forcefully through an unassuming crowd of Canadians on a hillside. As they shove and jostle through the crowd, all you can hear are Canadians’ falling over, exclaiming, “Sorry! Oh, sorry! Sorry!”
I think the thing that bothered me the most was the way those who managed the event tried to avoid responsibility for their poor planning and actually blamed fans for arriving at the same time when the event was clearly over-sold. It’s embarrassing that fans aren’t making a bigger issue out of it. One Facebook comment actually says, “The Expos is a victim of its own success.” Might I suggest it’s a product of its own mismanagement?
Let me be clear. This isn’t about the theme of the event. Take out Star Trek, put in hockey fans or U2 tickets, or a home show, and it’s still the same issue: poor organization. Yet comments on social media continue to excuse the organizers from responsibility. I read one person tell someone who had driven for six hours and was unable to get in that it wasn’t the Expo’s fault, and that he should have lined up at 6 AM to get in. It is this bizarre Canadian insistence to quiet complaint that puzzles me.
The Canadian habit of rolling over in the face of incompetence just perpetuates poor service and a wimpy national image. There are times when people who are shafted should be stepping up to the plate to, yes, complain. The Calgary Expo, successful event notwithstanding, owes an apology to thousands of its customers for short changing them. But if sweetly over-accommodating Canadians dismiss the issue, while others pass the blame, it doesn’t make us nice. It makes us gutless and heartless.

For more thoughts on the weekend, click here.

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