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Pro Tour Seattle!


There’s not going to be much Magic in this article I admit. I went to Pro Tour Seattle this past weekend, but the whole thing ran so smoothly and efficiently, I just can’t bring myself to rant about anything Magic related, and we all know my inspiration comes from ranting.


But that’s okay; I have something different to rant about.


So, I have a good friend named Jan who lives in Seattle. I went to college with him, I stayed in Arizona, he went to Seattle to find his fame and fortune, and did a pretty good job of it. He’s one of those friends I can go years without seeing (and indeed have), and then show up one day and its like we were never apart. Growing older, I have begun to appreciate that sort of thing more and more, as friends go fewer, but deeper.


Brushing nostalgia aside to continue with the story, Jan on Saturday gave me a gift of two professional concert photographs: one of Joe Satriani, and one of Steve Vai. Pretty cool gift, but kind of large. I thought about it, and I had traveled light. I have taken with me two carry on baggage pieces only, and wanted to stay that way, so taking the pictures on the plane was out of the question. So, what I needed to do was find some place to ship them.


Jan had suggested just asking the hotel to do it, but that sounded pricey and potentially unreliable. So Saturday at the Pro Tour I asked Scott Larabee (a Wizard’s employee) where I could ship something out. Scott said there was a UPS store down the street, and I should just do that. He gave me some directions that were a little vague but good enough, and I went on to begin my judging day. By Saturday afternoon I had forgotten the specifics of the directions, and went to ask Chris Galvin (Scott’s boss) where the UPS store was. Chris Galvin asked why I would bother, as there was a 24 hour Kinko’s down on the first floor of the Convention Center we were in, and they had a Fed Ex desk.


It was hard to argue with that logic.


So Sunday morning, I left the hotel, computer bag in one hand in case I needed it for Judge certification, two large pictures under my other arm. It was only a four block walk, but it was a bit annoying, but no biggie. Into the Convention Center I headed with my pictures and towards the Kinko’s.


It was at that moment that I became the butt of a Steven Wright joke, for while that Kinko’s definitely announced in big letter that it was a 24-hour Kinko’s; apparently it wasn’t in a row. The Kinko’s was closed. Well, that’s annoying. A thorough search of the shop showed no actual hours, so I had to assume an employee had not shown for a shift or something. I trudged up four flights of escalators with the pictures and stored them in the judge room for now, until I could figure out what to do.


After dropping them off, I head back down to visit the coffee shop down on the first floor to get an iced mocha and a muffin for breakfast. A quick travel back downstairs to the shop, and as I am waiting in line, I notice that suddenly the lights are on in the Kinko’s! And there is a guy in there! I rush back upstairs again to get the pictures, eager to get them sent out before I have to start the day.


Here is where I learn a valuable level, which is that although the lights may be on, and there may be someone in the Kinko’s, it does not mean they are actually willing to let you in, as they still were closed and the doors locked, and my attempts to get the worker’s attention were in vain. More than a little frustrated now, I buy my Iced Mocha and muffin, and head back up the four flights again with the pictures and drop them off in the Judge room again.


It is at this time that I get a pleasant surprise. Today I will be doing level three judge certification. I know last week you read about how much I didn’t like doing judge certification, but that was really judge being at the judge certification desk at a Pro Tour, where people come to you for all the wrong reasons. When it's time to test someone for level three, you know that they are there for all of the right reasons, and it’s so much more exciting. Not to mention fun. I can’t really tell you much about the level three interview process, but there’s some scenarios and role playing involved, and more than a little bit of running the level three to be “through the wringer” so to speak, which can be quite fun for the interviewers.


All went well in the two level two interviews that we did. Both prospects passed, and as the second one wrapped up, we decided to go get lunch to celebrate. Since we didn’t have a lot of time, we chose to go a restaurant in the Convention Center. I said that was fantastic, since I had some pictures I needed to mail out, and would meet them at the restaurant. I figured Kinko’s HAD to be open by now, so I could go ship them out, and then grab lunch. I grabbed the pictures and headed own to the Kinko’s.


It was open! Yay!


It took me roughly five minutes to actually find a guy who could help me out at the Fed Ex desk, and he had me start writing out all the shipping info while he took down some packing material. He bubble wrapped the pictures while I was writing, then went to find a box to fit the pictures.


Alas, he could not find a box. Even looking at the Kinko’s extra boxes, he found nothing that would fit the pictures. In a rather conspiring voice he whispered to me, “You should try the UPS Store down the street.”


I think it is a testimony to my patience that I did not strangle him right there, especially when he made me pay for the bubble wrap. But he gave me some directions to the UPS store, which were, unfortunately, almost entirely different from the one’s Scott had given me yesterday. I headed to the restaurant, and shared my shipping woes with my lunch mates, who agreed I needed some help. They asked the waiter where the UPS store, and he said he didn’t know, but would find out. A few moments later he came back and told me that I was in luck! The UPS store was in Union Square Building Two, which is attached to the Convention Center through a skywalk. Fantastico! He even offered to show me how to get there, left the restaurant with me, took me up an elevator to the second floor, and pointed out a walkway for me to go across to the next building. I thanked him profusely and headed off with new determination.


The first door I came to for Union Square Building Two was locked but the second one was open, so in I went to the Union Square Two Building.


Of course, there was no actual UPS Store there. Out of desperation, I went over to Union Square Building One. Nope, no UPS store there either.


At this point I tried both the directions given to me by Scott, and by the Kinko’s guy, and every variation I could think of. No combination in any way led me to a UPS Store. I was however learning downtown Seattle fairly well, having now traversed it for about an hour. I stopped at an outdoor café, and asked two of the ladies sitting outside if they knew where the UPS Store. I should point out that this entire time, I am still wearing my Black and White Judge Shirt, so look like an escaped Footlocker employee with stolen art, but that’s beside the point.


The ladies, after recovering from how I looked, admitted freely that they did not know where the UPS Store was. I almost hugged them simply for their honesty. They did, however, know of a drug store down the street that they thought did shipping. And even if it didn’t, they assumed that the drug store people would know where the UPS Store was. I thanked them and went on my way, and sure enough, the drug store was exactly where they said it was.


The drug store did not do shipping.


The drug store did not know where the UPS store was.


By now, I was a broken man. But I vowed to take one last crack at it, and started weaving my way back to the Convention Center; avoiding all paths I had previously taken in an attempt to hope to just accidentally run into the UPS Store. Of course, it did not happen, and soon enough I was back in the Convention Center, heading up to the Pro Tour room, openly sobbing. Well, not really, but I felt like it.


About to enter the room, I ran into Tim Shields, the tournament organizer for Seattle and Portland. Noticing me being a bit “out of sorts,” he asked me what was going on. I related to him my tale of woe, and Tim said the words I so desperately needed to hear.


“Just give me the things and I’ll ship them out for you on Monday.”


If Tim were a woman, I would have kissed him (her).


So, to give you the ending of the story, the pictures did indeed arrive just fine from Tim, who I thank wholeheartedly for saving my sanity. But the bitter irony came when I returned to Arizona. My wife loves Seattle, and always asks me to bring back to her things from Seattle when I go there. This time I brought her back a big mug for her Diet Coke, some salt water taffy, and a map I got from the hotel which I showed her was kind of neat because it showed different things downtown, like the convention center, space needle, the hotel I was at…


And the UPS Store, right there in the bottom middle of the map, which I could have easily followed and gotten to in under ten minutes walking from the convention center.




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