As my family awakens in our hotel room on Sunday morning of our latest con, the incessant coughing is telling me we have it. Con Crud, the bane of all con attendees. Sleep gets interrupted. Panels get skipped, and misery runs rampant.
This inspired me to write a post on what we, collectively, can do about prevent this plague (pun intended) on fandom.
The first step is making sure we wash our hands… a lot. Yeah, I know, most of us wash our hands when we go to the restroom. But really, if you think about it, how often do we really wash our hands throughout the weekend? Do you hit the bathroom prior to grabbing that slice of pizza at the concessions booth? If not, think back to how many people you have had the opportunity to shake hands with that day. I’m not saying everyone is a carrier of some dreaded virus, but it does increase your chances of picking up something. And even if washing your hands isn’t possible on a frequent basis, you could carry some hand sanitizer that you can use when no one is looking (you don’t want to offend the guy you just shook hands with, after all).
[Option B comes from Cami Walker, my con’s Marketing Director. She says to make sure all of your costumes have gloves.]
Now that I’ve covered how you can personally reduce your risk of Con Crud, let’s discuss what conventions can do.
The most common location for Con Crud to spread is the ConSuite. There are lots of people handling items that can spread germs… ice scoops, open bowls of chips, soda bottles, serving utensils, etc. Contact with any of these things immediately after someone with dirty hands and/or a virus has touched them, can result in you picking up an illness.
My solution is for cons to move to more individually wrapped items.
I know, I know. I can hear ConSuites Directors everywhere screaming as I write this, “That’s too expensive!”
Is it though? Is it really?
Let’s take a look at the cost of soda as an example.
I’ve done the math, and ounce for ounce, the cost of soda is pretty close for cans and 2L bottles. Now, if you don’t buy sodas when they are on sale, then, yeah, maybe it’s cheaper for 2L bottles. But I’ve found the cost at club stores is roughly the same. Also, often times the manufacturers run sales on 12 packs of cans… buy 2 get 3 free kinds of deals. At $6.69 a 12 pack (a recent price at Harris Teeter grocery store), that means we could buy five 12 packs for $13.38, or $0.22 a can. For those “keeping score at home,” that’s $0.018 per ounce.
To be fair, the manufactures sometimes run sales on 2L bottles also, which usually come in around $1.69/each. At 67 ounces, that’s $0.025 per ounce. Even at $1.25 per bottle, the price would be the same per ounce as the cans promo listed above.
Hopefully, this example is enough to persuade cons to look a little deeper and actually see what the relative costs are for their stock. Reducing Con Crud in the ConSuite should be a priority. And reducing Con Crud in the ConSuite will absolutely reduce it at the con in general.
And in case you’re wondering, yes, my convention serves individually packaged products. It has worked out fairly well for the past two years. We haven’t had any reports of a massive attack of Con Crud, at least not yet, anyway (that is not a challenge for Murphy!).
*Note: prices listed above are for name brand sodas.