Message to the Unknown Fan

I was at World Con this weekend, and there was a lady who come up to me with a bag of books on Sunday, asking me for a signature. She said she had been trying to catch up with me the whole con. Unfortunately, I was about to begin a panel were I was speaking, and I dared not be rude to the paying customer seated for the panel, so I begged the lady to wait until the panel was done, when I would be more than happy to sign, and she was kind enough to agree.

I really wanted to sing whatever this fan asked, because she had at least ten of my books in her bag, which is more than my own mother bought.

Unbeknownst to me, this was scheduled as a ninety-minute panel — which is something I had never encountered before at any convention. So I thought the panel would last until 4:30, at which time I had to leave to catch a plane back to the states. I thought I was asking her to come back at 4:30 — but what I said was “when the panel is done”. The moderator of the panel actually adjourned at 4:30 so that I (and the only other speaker there) could catch our flights.

So, if she returned at 5:00 for my autograph, not only would she find me gone, but the room would be empty. There was no place for me to leave a note, no way I could think of to contact her, and no way I could wait, because I had to catch a plane.

I am sure this lady, wherever she is in the world, now thinks I am a grade-A prime stinker who snubbed her and walked out without a thought — but I have no way of finding and telling her that evil circumstances, and a lack of forethought on my part, conspired to part us.

I really wanted to sign those books, too. You don’t know what a pleasure it is to know that someone has read a story of yours and liked it. Gratitude and humility are the only proper response.

To my unknown friend, wherever you are, I have no way to reach you to tell you I am sorry. If you ever read these words, and can ask of me what I can do to make amends, please tell me.