…this was the first day of MagiCon, the 50th World Science Fiction Convention.
It was in Orlando, and it was the first I would ever attend. I met up with Bob in Miami, and we drove a rental car to Orlando together to arrive on the evening of Thursday.
The adventure actually began on Monday when I arrived in Miami. I was there on business for Cable & Wireless. It was an easy gig, but I didn’t know anything about it at the time. I simply needed to train the Miami sales office in the use of a product for which I’d been the chief software architect. I didn’t know anything about training yet, so it seemed like a big deal — but the work was very right for me, and the experience of it this first time was pleasant, in fact it was delightful.
I arrived Monday on the heels of a major hurricane (Andrew) that had rendered pretty much the whole town a chaotic mess. Everyone there was working through the sensation of putting things back together after a great disaster. (Indeed, it was. Andrew caused 65 deaths and $26.5 in damage.)
I think this might have been the first time I’d rented a car too. The spectacle I made when I arrived was comical in retrospect. I had reserved a car using Compuserve and boy was I proud of how advanced and technologically leading-edge I was! At the counter, they wanted me to present a credit card and driver’s license. (Just like they always do.) But I didn’t have a credit card at the time. So I did what any clueless rookie traveler would do. I argued. I told them that I’d already been approved because I had a printout from Compuserve.
This didn’t sway the counter agent. So then I ranted. I told them that my company was expecting me to do business and they would be responsible if I couldn’t do it. I ranted, I cried, I raged. Eventually the counter agent said, “Let me see if there’s something I can do.” He fiddled around with his terminal a bit, and finally gave me some papers to sign and a key to a car. I left with a very nice Buick for my troubles.
What I discovered when I turned the car back in was that the agent had simply put my rental car on the credit card of the guy ahead of me in line. When we turned the car in, there was no record that I’d had it out! And boy did I have a good time in it while we DID have it out in the world. I learned first-hand the basis of that old saw about the fastest car in the world being — a rental car.
After a couple of pleasant and booze-soaked days in Miami with the sales staff for my company, I picked Bob up at the airport and we drove up to Orlando. We reached there on Thursday evening, got our room and tentatively began to meet people. We were so shy that first weekend.
Later Mike Faurot would arrive (Saturday morning, I believe) and we would begin to find ourselves being a lot more gregarious. It was the start of something grand for all of us.
One thing I remember is that on Sunday morning, Mike punched a Buick. (not ours) He was crossing the mouth of a parking lot driveway on the sidewalk and a visiting driver (ALL drivers in Orlando are visitors, unfamiliar with the roads, and driving a car that is not their own) veered into the driveway without looking, nearly hitting Mike. Not one to let poor manners go unchallenged, Mike hauled off and punched the car in the rear quarter panel. I don’t know if he left a dent or how you would report that on an insurance form.
This is the weekend where I met Deby. That was the start of something as well.