Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Ad Astra vs Parliament Security

I've dealt with them both, you see, and therefore feel I have a good grasp of both systems.  Why compare them?  Um, because I can?

First team:  Parliament Security.  Parliament is a big place where Canada is run, and it's nested on a Hill.  Quite pretty.  Their security team, incidentally, is also referred by some as the RCMP.  Check out the Parliament of Canada.

Second team:  Ad Astra Security.  Ad Astra is a con in Toronto - check it out.  Spent a weekend there.  Wicked fun - everyone should come next year.  Truly.

The teams:

Let's start with the RCMP, as it's the first one I dealt with on an up-close and personal level.


I did not get lost.  I did not wander, I did not pry, and I did not even cry.  I did not use my wicked lock picking skillz, I did not open doors I shouldn't have, nor read things left about (okay, nothing was left about).  But I still was put under house arrest.

The event:  Meeting Prime Minister Harper with a bunch of school kids for photo opp.

The item:  I had a t-shirt to give him.  An extra large t-shirt, as his shoulders bear a mighty, mighty load.

The issue:  Incompetent press secretary sent us to wrong room and forgot to inform security of my presence.

Time spent in captivity:  Long enough to miss visit with PM and develop healthy appetite.  It was a pretty room, though.  Some big important papers had been signed there, to my understanding. 

Resolution:  Escorted outside with no apology or explanation.  Kids had fun, though! (They weren't in captivity with me. Thank goodness.  Mostly for my own sanity.)

Lessons learned: Bring snacks and a bottle of water.


I did get lost.  I totally wandered and I even pried.  In the wrong room.  I cried some, did not use my wicked lock picking skillz (promised Roomy to be good), did read things that were left about and generally turned out to be confused and of questionable sanity.  Woke up with laryngitis the next day, so like to blame bugs in part, wine in other parts.

The event:  My own storytelling panel at Ad Astra, featuring moi and no one else.  When the one panelist doesn't show up for their own show, people notice (sci-fi crowds are swift, to be fair).

The item: I blame the wine.  I will always blame the wine.

The issue: See above.  Okay, really though, I got the rooms confused.  I have poor reading skills.  Sad for an author.

Time spent in captivity:  45 minutes with wine, whining to publisher Brian Hades about the fact that no one had come to my show.
When this woman comes for you, you hustle.
Resolution.  Body builder and writer extraordinaire Sandra Wickham stalked me in bar and hauled me off in her three-inch heels.  Meanwhile, Ad Astra security did not mess around, scouting the entire hotel for me.  As I ran to the (correct) room with Sandra, there was much recognition and joy by security that I'd been found (drinking).  Arrived in room with time for one story.  Launched in and managed to get unfrazzled quickly.

Lessons learned:  Read your schedule right, dummy.  And don't stiff your publisher with the wine bill halfway through your glass when the body builder comes to haul you to your own show.  It's a very applicable lesson for many different moments in life.


I learned early on it's not a competition without a score, it's not a score without points, and there are no points without vague and sometimes inapplicable categories.  So here we go. 

Ad Astra: 1 (I was searched for.)
RCMP: 1 (I was kept in a room.)

Ability to determine problem
Ad Astra:  1 (Storyteller missing.  Go.)
RCMP: 0  (Girl in room. She has a Harper-sized t-shirt.  Keep her there.)

Ad Astra: 1 (Although yellow is generally a difficult colour to pull off, it was just the right shade that most of their security staff looked quite lovely in it.)
RCMP: 2 (They had full weaponry and boots.)

Ad Astra: 2 (Extra point for learning lesson and randomly making sure I'd get to the right spot during following day.  Very smart..)
RCMP: 0  (I'm still allowed on Parliament Hill, I believe.)

Ad Astra: 2 (Very polite, made jokes and were in a jovial mood.  Kind of like the Canadian of legend who sips on a mug of hot cocoa after a cold day cutting down logs and hunting polar bears.  Effective, and happy being so.)
RCMP: 1 (Ya, that's right, I'm giving the Royal CANADIAN Mounted Police only a "1" on Canadian-ism.  I was their guest, in their house, and the least they could have done was offer me a glass of water.  Poor hosting skills are not very Canadian, in my opinion.  Not when there are polar bears everywhere.)

So, if I counted correctly (I also have poor numeracy skills), that makes:
Ad Astra: 7

And so, by my very questionable scoring system, the Ad Astra security team wins for being best security detail!  And that's why they got the box of timbits on the day following my disappearing act.

I feel I should add a third security detail to really get a feel for the systems.  We'll see when next I get into some sort of trouble spurred on by my incompetence and manage to attract security, and then I'll re-work the comparison!  In the meantime, here's a shout out to the Ad Astra security team:

Now if a badly hand-drawn and poorly scanned picture endorsed by the 15 year-old coconut that lives in my basement isn't reward enough, I simply don't know what is.