Saturday, October 5, 2013

About the time I almost didn't attend Blizzcon '11

I could've almost hit the Anaheim convention center with a rock just standing out in front of our hotel---I was that close---but that didn't matter much. It was looking like despite having bought a con ticket and flown to Cali from Wisconsin, I wasn't going to be able to attend.

See, some sort of personal ID plus your printout with barcode from Blizzard is what you'll need to get your convention pass. Without both, things get a bit tricky. Anyone who's had to switch a name on one of their barcodes after Blizzard's set deadline is most definitely familiar with the extra hoops you need to jump through in order to get your con pass. But if you have a barcode with your name on it, yet you can't prove that it's actually your name on the barcode, well, then things can get panicky rather quickly.

I arrived at LAX late on the Thursday night before the con and took a shuttle to my hotel, which happened to be the Hilton adjacent to the convention center thanks to a very generous friend and fellow con attendee. It was just after midnight went I entered the lobby to find hundreds of people gathered, all talking excitedly in small groups. Aha! A bar. I stopped at our room to drop off my bag and say hello to my friend, then headed back downstairs to mingle with the crowds.

After acquiring a Sierra Nevada from the bar, some friendly fellas from Nebraska flagged me down---maybe it was my charming Midwestern looks. I spent the rest of my waking hours that night with those three guys. We had a couple of beers, walked around the lobby, people-watched. Sleep beckoned to me around 2am, and I complied.

My friend and I were up early the next morning---we wanted to ensure there was time for some breakfast, but for me, more importantly, I had to acquire my pass. I grabbed my wallet, my barcode printout, and headed to the convention center. The real shock came when I entered the ticketing area and pulled out my wallet: my ID wasn't there. Not in the outer pocket where I normally keep it; not in one of the inside slots; and not in one of the super-secret hidden inside slots.

I panicked. I knew for a fact I had it with me at the hotel---not only did I have to use it for air travel, but I was carded at the bar the night prior. I knew it had to be in the hotel...or, I'd lost it somewhere in between the hotel lobby and our room. I looked around at the Blizzard officials ushering people into the correct line (there were several for processing based on your situation), wondering who to approach. There were also several stand-up displays that had directions for attendees on them. That's where I discovered a completely different line specifically for people without their IDs.

Phew. Saved. I'd talk to the friendly person at the ticket desk and explain my situation. Surely they'd have me jump through a couple of extra hoops to prove who I was. But I'd be glad to do so; I really just wanted to get my pass, because an even greater concern loomed once that was done: just how the hell was I going to be able to get on a plane back to Wisconsin without being able to prove who I was?

Unfortunately, this line was quite long---apparently there are quite a few people who are either minors without IDs, or people who had to change the name on their tickets past the appointed time Blizzard allows for it. After waiting in line for forty-five minutes, I nervously approached the ticket desk and explained the situation. The rep told me that I had to have my ID to get my pass. No ways around it. I pointed to the sign that indicated the line I was in was for people like me. Nope, sorry. I wasn't walking out of there with a pass. But I lost it last night, I told the man. If I couldn't find it, he told me, I'd have to file a missing ID report with the Anaheim police. They in turn, once they got around to it, would somehow verify my identity with the state of Wisconsin enabling them to create a record which would essentially suffice as an ID for Blizzard's purposes and apparently for air travel.

I sulked out of the convention center, passing a few police officers who were there for traffic flow. I stopped to ask one what I needed to do given my current situation, though with her I raised my concern about not being able to fly, rather than not getting my convention pass. After all, I was expected back at work on Monday. She gave me a number to call if and when I wanted to file a report, but she was blunt about the fact it might take a day or more to get what I needed. That's when it hit me that I may have just paid several hundred dollars for a plane ticket, and several hundred dollars for food and lodging, not to mention the price of a con ticket, and I might miss the entire first day or more. 

Once in the lobby, I stopped at the front desk. They'd not seen my ID, but informed me security would probably have it if it was found and/or turned it. By the time I reached the hotel room, I'd already called my friend and told him of the situation. I came back to find the room torn apart, with my friend looking rather frustrated. My ID was nowhere to be found. I rifled through all of my stuff---the bedsheets, pillows, bathroom towels, still nothing. It had to have fallen out of my wallet the night prior was in the lobby. It had to.

Chocked full of dread, I picked up the room phone and dialed the extension for security. And......they didn't have my ID. My head started to spin. Would someone have found my ID and kept it for themselves? Why would someone do that? Was there any way they could gain access to my ticket, or was there possibly a more nefarious reason why someone would keep an ID they found---especially when the ID was clearly that of a tourist whose home was more than half the country away? I didn't know. I told the man on the end of the line where I thought I'd lost it---he told me to call back in a half hour or so, as not every member of his crew had returned. That at least gave me enough hope to not completely descend into a wallowing despair.

A half-hour later, I called back. By then, they'd acquired a stack of lost valuables and personal items from the night before...but my ID was not among them. Noooooooooooooooo! He was kind enough about it, offering that he still had one more employee "out" who should be returning shortly. They could still have my ID, he said. This time, he'd call me back. That meant I'd exhausted my lifelines. Time to hurry up and wait.

Ten minutes later, the shrill ring of our hotel phone. "Ross?" a voice on the other end asked. Yes. Someone on their cleaning crew found my ID on the floor of the hotel lobby and had just turned it into security. The man confirmed my room number and said he'd send someone up with my ID. Three minutes later, there was a knock at the door.

And THAT is the story about the time I almost didn't attend Blizzcon '11.


  1. Dang Ross!
    I've been in similar situations. Well-written because it gave me nasty flashbacks of being in Mexico and not finding my passport for the flight home.
    p.s. our interview is going up shortly on

    1. I was going to really get into storytelling mode, but since most people who know me know that I did end up attending the con, I figured why drag it out much longer. Just kind of a light-hearted look at one of the more stressful times from last year's con. I'm hoping to avoid those altogether this year.

      Can't wait to hear how the podcast turned out!

  2. That sounds like one stressful day! I'm glad you found your ID in time to attend BlizzCon. If I had been in your shoes I'd have been a wreck - I have a real thing about having my ID on me at all times. I guess part of me thinks that if I have it on my and I get struck by lightning and die someone will atleast know who I am!

    1. Hah! Yeah, as a result I'm going to be hyper-sensitive this year---I'll be that guy constantly checking the contents of his wallet...