|Synonyms:||GoFer, Go-fer, Gopher, steward, con volunteer|
|See also:||Klingon Diplomatic Corps|
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A gofer (in the UK or Australia: "steward") is a volunteer at a con, someone who performs a variety of miscellaneous tasks.
The term "gofer" is a play on words ("go for") and refers to the gofer's job of running errands and going to get things for other people. "Gofer" often uses the visual of a "gopher," a burrowing rodent. Some fans use "gofer" and "gopher" interchangeably.
Gofers/stewards are the backbone of a convention. They do all the boring but essential jobs such as checking badges to ensure that only people who have paid for the convention get into the talks. They watch the video rooms to ensure that the equipment doesn't get stolen, they take turns keeping watch over the con suite, the art show room, and other activities.
The Hole in the Deck Gang Newsletter was a publication for gofers. One of its goals was to provide cons with reliable, educated gofers, as well as to protect gofers from unrealistic expectations and poor treatment.
Sharon organized the Hole-in-the-Deck gang, to provide gofer service at cons. It was a way of getting into the cons for free. The guys did security; the women did the gofering. We would get a band of people together, the con would give us two rooms, and we'd check badges at doors, ferry things for the guests, help with registration. We did everything. We were the con organizers' hands and feet, and we learned how to run cons ourselves. 
From the 1976 Equicon program book:
THE GOFER-SQUAD is a hard-working group of convention members who have voluntarily given up part of their time to be of service to the Committee & their fellow con-attendees. These people have a special Gofer badge (the Phil Foglio cartoon at left) & they'll be helping in various capacities. If you need assistance, as a Go-fer--he or she can find someone to help you if they cannot. Gofers are NOT flunkys [sic] to be pushed around; they are human beings with feelings and low blood sugar at times, just as much as anyone else! Don't complain to a Go-fer about the con: find a COMMITTEE ribbon-wearer & tell them your problem, or file the idea/complaint in the Suggestion Box at the Info Booth. Go-fers help make a con run smoothly: they 'go fer' this and 'go fer' that, & do all the things the committee does not have time to do to make this a fun convention for everyone. Please give them your full cooperation & courtesty [sic]; they'll be doing their best to help YOUR convention be a fun one!Volunteers for the 1977 con may leave name, address ' & sanity test at the Information Booth!
In 1981, a fan described gofers:
Gofers are the
suckersvolunteers who are vital to the running of any convention over 50 people. You will need approximately 1 gofer per 50 attendees. Gofers help with registration, run errands, and do a multitude of tasks that no one else has time to do, but they must be done. Be sure that your gofers don't overwork themselves -- schedule them for half the con or less and, as with the volunteer security, see that they either don't have to pay a registration or get refunded after the con. Exercise common sense in filling your gofer squad. Little kids (and I have met many enthusiastic 9 year olds) are not effective. Neither are lazy people or those with short attention spans. Try to recruit them in advance. Be sure and ask for people who have worked at other conventions. 
Some Gofer Visuals
a illo of gofers from The Fan's Little Golden Guide to Throwing Your Own Con
one fan's rendition of a gofer, from Warped Space #11
Examples of Use
From Warped Space #26/27: "I gofered that con."
A 1981 filk:
(Tune: "Life is Fine" from "Jesus Christ Superstar")
- Look at all my trials and tribulations
- Drowning in another mug of beer,
- Regretting the day I said I'd be a gofer
- And wondering what the hell I'm doing here.
- Thought I'd be a help to the committee,
- Thought I'd be promoting SF cons,
- But I get bawled out every twenty minutes
- And now the con-suite's booze supply is gone.
- Goin' to the gofer hole for reassurance
- When ever the guests of honor are impolite.
- But we get their beer and pretzels and run their errands
- Please, don't let this go on all night!
- We sit there telling horror stories
- 'Bout gofering at another con.
- We sit and daydream 'bout our fav'rite movies.
- And what we'd like to do to Spock and Han!
- Running back and forth for other people —
- Hey, tell me just who's in charge?
- Let me sit down a minute and have a cup of coffee;
- Oh, I didn't know blisters got so large!
- Look at all my trials and tribulations
- Drowning in another mug of booze;
- They asked me to work next year as a gofer —
- Oh hell, what do I have to lose?!? -- filk by Bernadette Krebs in Shadowstar #2 (1981)