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27 September 2012 @ 03:04 pm
Summerfest 2012  
Not, apparently, having learned my lesson last year, I agreed to help run the Summerfest bar again this year. In fact I agreed to get back from Germany late Friday and set off for Summerfest early Saturday.

I wasn't exactly overjoyed to get back from Germany and discover that a fuse had tripped and the fridge-freezer had been quietly warming itself up, we guessed, for about 24 hours. Given it was nearly midnight when I made this discovery, I simply switched everything back on, left the door firmly shut and decided to investigate in the morning. Actually the morning investigations weren't too grim. I threw a whole load of stuff out, texted B. (who was in South Dakota) to inform him there would be no food in the house when he got back, and then got on a train to "somewhere near Barnsley".

Summerfest was much like it was last year. I had aching feet (in fact, as noted previously, I lost and continue to be without any feeling in a small area on the left side of my right big toe). I met old friends. We ran out of mugs-with-handles.

I got only a hazy idea of the plot: In the time I have been associated with Fools and Heroes (Dear Lord! over 20 years now), there have been a number of Kings of Ithron - in fact I have a suspicion Ithron manages to lose its current monarch roughly every four years which takes carelessness to extremes. However never, in all that time, have dragons shown any interest in who he was planning to marry. All of a sudden, this year, the dragons took an interest. Given, I understand, the King wasn't all that keen on marrying the lady in question, I do wonder if he had something to do with this unexpected occurrence. In the end I believe both the dragons and the King were happy. Not necessarily the lady, though.

A number of improvements to the arrangement of the bar area, and the pricing and payment systems meant we ran a much swifter ship this year and, most of the time, kept the queues to a respectable length. An unintended consequence of this appeared to be increased demand and we ran out of food at various awkward moments - most notably the lack of sandwiches-which-weren't-tuna on Sunday lunch time.

We also had a tendency to run out of crockery, not just mugs-with-handles. In part this was because the minions tended to be conspicuous by their absence at peak times. Minions were drawn from all the attendees at the fest. Part of the deal is that everyone signs up for a two hour slot to help with the bar and food - mostly this involves washing up, chopping vegetables and carrying stuff, though at peak times we also wanted extra people to help with serving. We had some discussion about how to get around the lack-of-minions problem - often the busy times at the bar were times when there was a lot going on elsewhere, and there was a clear tendency for minions to think their "slot" started not "at 2pm" but at "a quiet moment after 2pm, when nothing more interesting is going on". That doesn't count the minions, including a number of senior members of the society, who failed to turn up for their slot at all and made it fairly clear they had no intention of helping out whatsoever. We had a number of, rather inconclusive, conversations about dealing with the problem in future. One solution, of course, is to charge more and actually pay people to wash up etc but king_pellinor wasn't keen on that solution, mostly in the name of affordability and inclusiveness - even assuming we could find staff. Given that senior members of the society happily flout the system, it's clearly not going to be easy to create a culture in which not-pitching-in is frowned upon. So we're really left with attempting to devise the right carrots and sticks so that turning up on time is rewarded and failing to pull your weight is punished in some way. Given various logistics, this isn't as simple as it might sound. I left king_pellinor and ladyofastolat pondering the problem.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/77425.html.
Elaine of Astolatladyofastolat on September 28th, 2012 12:10 pm (UTC)
On the Friday, we had a minion on duty from dawn to close of play, for which he was paid with a Feed Me card. He was incredibly useful - although he did have to go off and do something in character from about 12 to 6, for which he was very apologetic. I'm in favour of offering more deals like this next year, so we have at least 2 people a day who are there full time - either all day, or for half a day. However, the people arranging missions and the like would need to understand that these people were absolutely NOT available for role-playing that day.

Running out of food at lunch shouldn't happen next year, since we'll have a better idea of the relative popularity of various sandwich fillings, and buy and make accordingly.

re. mugs: I'm in favour of ditching the soup, since , A, it's a hassle decanting it and heating it up, B, it's a hassle to get rid of in order to wash up the soup kettles for stew, and, C, it causes huge demand on mugwithahandles. I want to have that powdered stuff in reserve in case of cold weather, but not offer soup otherwise.

I also want to have loads of disposable cups on hand, so we can use them if mug supplies are running low.
louisedennislouisedennis on September 28th, 2012 12:24 pm (UTC)
I agree with ditching the soup. I think, given its clear that some people simply won't minion (and to an extent I have sympathy with the people who bring their own food and drink not seeing why they should help with the bar), we really need a way to get more out of the people who are prepared to do it, and to pay them back for their help in some way.

I don't know how practical it would be to allow people to opt out of minioning in some way (possibly in return for a raised entrance fee or some such). It would hopefully let us manage resource much better since we'd know the people on the list had actively agreed to minion and, of course, people who didn't minion could the be billed for the difference between the minioning and non-minioning entry price - of course the risk is that there wouldn't be enough minions at all, that way, and that people wouldn't show up but would wriggle out of not paying the penalty.
king_pellinor: P Knightking_pellinor on September 28th, 2012 01:20 pm (UTC)
My current thinking is two-fold:

1) get more people for full days in return for free food or fest ticket

2) keep track of people minioning, and penalise their branch as a whole if they don't turn up.

The point of (1) is that washing up can take a bit of a back seat as long as we have enough people serving, and the best servers are the ones who don't need to be retaught every 2 hours. The point of (2) is that peer pressure can punish delinquents far better than I ever could ;-)

For example, if a branch has too many people fail to turn up, I might push for it to be re-registered as an affiliate, which means limited voting rights at Exec and no Positions of Power for any of its players. If I lose my positional item because you didn't turn a shift, I'm going to be mightily fed up with you :-) Might not have so much impact in year 1, but year 2 should be improved :-D

Also looking at getting a professionally-done marquee so we have more space, better weather-proofing, and it's easier to set up and take down. And we could get more tables from the same people.
louisedennislouisedennis on September 29th, 2012 09:00 am (UTC)
We should definitely start tracking them properly. Some naming and shaming might not go amiss as well - we could have a big blackboard up in the bar listing people who have failed to turn up.

I wonder if there is any mileage in letting people opt to do two minion or two monster slots? I got the impression that there are some people who would prefer to minion twice rather than monster and there are probably some people who would prefer to monster twice rather than minion.
king_pellinor: P Knightking_pellinor on September 29th, 2012 10:10 am (UTC)
There is some mileage in that, but it should be by exception rather than the rule, I think. The refs are despairing at the number of people who skip their monster slots, too... :-(
louisedennislouisedennis on September 29th, 2012 02:59 pm (UTC)
It did seem we were not the only people suffering. Combining whatever we do with the people needing monsters would no doubt help as well!
Pollyjane_somebody on October 12th, 2012 02:06 pm (UTC)
Is it uncharitable of me to suspect that *some* of the people who skip minioning are also people who skip monstering? If they are, obviously trading monstering for minioning or vice versa wouldn't work on them. And also if so, it seems definitely like a good idea to coordinate tracking the people who skip slots with whoever's in charge of monsters, and using both lists to penalise branches or whatever sanction. If you're going down the sanctions route, it seems sensible to get the most advantage out of it that you can!