It all started on Monday. It had been confirmed that the product had arrived in the port of Chicago the week before, but I thought I’d rather check up on it. Calling internationally I found out the bad news: The container with the cards had been impounded by customs on behalf of the department of agriculture, since it was supposedly containing illegal seeds. WTF?
With Oliver arriving at the train station around 4 p.m. I was all busy packing the last promo cards, making all orders ready, and calling to the US at half-hour intervals to get some plan going to get my two pallets out of the special customs yard and to surpass the wall of “nothing we can do”s. What a way to start GenCon.
After three hours of sleep I packed my suitcases at six in the morning - by 8 a.m. we were at the train station again for the 90 min. trip to the airport. Check in went fine, even though we were surprised to find a Boeing 757 for the trip. Its cabin seats only six people per row, while normally transatlantic flights have 10 (as in the 747). At least it wasn’t full, so Oliver and I had an empty seat between us, so we spent most of the flight playing his decks and my challenge decks.
With time passing swiftly that way, we arrived in Detroit to take up a new hobby: Queuing. The US border officers seemed to have fun in closing lines in front of people who had been waiting for at least 30 minutes to get their passports checked. Oliver got a bit restless, itching for a smoke.
Finally we got through, trying to explain to the border guy what GenCon is, but he let us through anyway ;-). After claiming our baggage (one suitcase apiece) we went through customs. Again we queued, then tried to explain to the customs agent what promo cards are, and what sort of value they’d have. After claiming at least three times that we were not in fact going to sell them, they let us go… only to queue again before our suitcases were put through scan machines again.
By the time we were through, Oliver was ready to attack the next officer to make us wait, but luckily this was the last step, before we stepped into the nice and… smoker-free Detroit airport. Fortunately we found a Fox Sports bar where smoking was allowed and we went in there for one beer and a few cigarettes. The air of course made me gag (when smokers have only one place to do so, they pretty much do it there all the time, yikes). The beer was a Samuel Adams, as I told Oliver that what is advertised on TV as “beer” is nearly undrinkable as such. Yes, you may call that German hubris.
After another two hours wait, our first American burger for the stay and more games we boarded the nutshell that would bring us to Indy. To calm our nerves (remember: Possibly no product at the show) we worked out a plan B. And swore at the unknown trying to send illegal seeds to the US.
The flight to Indy was uneventful, we actually got our luggage quite swiftly and a cab brought us to the hotel about an hour earlier than we had anticipated. After a quick shower we therefore made our way to the RAM where a very nice (heck, what’s the politically correct word for black these days?) waitress helped us work our way through all the brews they had. In conclusion the Butthead Ale was the winner for future consideration. Actually most of the beers were better than the Samuel Adams. Peter Adkison was beleaguered by a bunch of people (who didn’t really look like gamers) at the next table, but being so busy I didn’t want to introduce myself again. Finally we noticed the drinks a bit and decided to retire early (it was 6 a.m. by our internal clock by then).
To be continued…