I had a great experience at a gaming store this week. Then, I read a blog post, and my mood soured: Theft in the Magic Community. Frak. Does everything have to be ruined by heartless idiots?
First, the good. My Geek Guy wanted to start painting miniatures- Star Trek HeroClix, to be exact. We walked to Galactic Force on Belmont in Lakeview. As we entered, every patron looked to see if we were regulars. We weren't. Andy, the mini-painting expert, was welcoming anyway. He was patient, honest about sales, and gave accessible advice. Nobody else introduced themselves, but it was cool. We had a few laughs. I looked forward to gaming there... until I read the above post.
The entry features an open letter from one Justin Parnell. At a pro tournament (!!), thieves walked off with Justin's prized possessions- his Magic: The Gathering cube and related collectibles. This is apparently a rising trend. Grand Prix Baltimore saw many thefts. A GGC reader named Michelle shared that someone stole her hand-painted Elf Paladin and Yu-Gi-Oh! Exodia deck. WHAT?! As a lifelong geek, I've always thought of conventions, tournaments, etc. as safe places. Are we to a point where we can't even trust our own?
Perhaps worse than the theft is the number of comments lacking sympathy. "Just pieces of paper"? Pfft. Collectors would pay top-dollar, but money isn't the point. When my house was broken into in 2008, I kept my emotions in check... until I realized my 50+ Super Nintendo games had been taken. Those cartridges represented an entire childhood. Through them, I'd learned patience, determination, fiscal responsibility, even friendship, and someone pawned them for pennies. How can anyone call that pain illegitimate?
We have to put a stop to theft at tournaments, cons, etc. Justin suggests being careful with valuables, watching each other's stuff, and reporting incidents. These are all wonderful ideas. I have one more.
I'm serious. The next time you go to your favorite shop, introduce yourselves to newbies. Yes, even if they have lame decks, unpainted minis, or need to borrow your dice. Turn them into regulars and friends. This will result in more eyes watching for bad guys, and more mouths calling out shady activity. Who knows? Maybe, if someone had befriended those thieves in advance, they would have joined the fun instead of ruining it.
...Too sugary? Fine. Still befriend everyone. Then, you have more fists with which to punch thieving jerks in the face. For great justice.
Got an anti-theft suggestion? A related story to share? Comment below!