Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Other Side

I've always been one to shy away from those grand scale year end reflective mindsets.  The end of a year makes a nice, arbitrary measure for time and reflecting back on that time period.  But in the grand scheme of things?  It's not much different than looking back on August 11th, or any other random date.

I don't think it would come as a surprise to any regular readers I have (if I have any) that my relationship with the hobby has become a complicated one.  There's no cut and dry answer for why or how it happened, or continues to happen.  I still love collecting, and all the great things that come with it (not the least of which has been some of the wonderful experiences I've had blogging).  But then there's what I like to call the other side.

This hobby that I think most of us in the blog world take as just that - a hobby - isn't all that squeaky clean.  I'm tired of dealing with people whose sole goal in the hobby is to make a profit.  I'm tired of companies who care little for the quality of their product from year to year.  And of the feeling of getting kicked in the teeth by the sport or hobby that is supposed to be a relaxing outlet.

I just got an email from ebay informing me that the ebay bucks program is being reconfigured - which is a nice way of saying your ebay bucks don't count unless you spend $250 or more per quarter.  From the card forums I still visit, the reaction is predictable.  Those who primarily sell take the position it's ebay's site, and they can do as they please.  Those that buy heavily say that's too bad, but they'll still get their money.  And I'm sure some will continue to use the site as always.  But me?  Well, call me an idealist.  But that measly 2%, which never added up to more than a couple dollars a quarter, was a nice little thank you.  A "we appreciate your business" perk.  Taking it away?  Well, that sounds a lot like you don't really appreciate my business all that much. 

I'll be the first to admit sometimes little symbolic gestures like that are things I put too much stock into.  But hell, I've got too much Italian blood running through me not to.  And the thing is...I'm happy to take that money I would have spent on ebay and put it elsewhere.  I'm a guy of many interests, and I can always move my resources to a different one.  But it's not about that measly 2%.  Not entirely.

I haven't discussed my new job much here, but the short story is that I'm working with a non-profit organization that provides after school programming for inner city kids - tutoring, homework help, credit recovery for failed or incomplete credits.  That's the what the grant tells you.  But the reality is that some kids are coming to the program so they don't have to spend a few more hours at home.  Or just to get a half decent dinner, which we provide in the school cafeteria.  And when you're working with kids who tell you that they want to learn how human eyesight works, because their teacher doesn't teach - just gives them the answers.  Or kids who are in foster care, and know high school graduation doesn't mean accomplishment but aging out of the system...perspective changes.  Fast.  It's a far cry from the largely white, largely suburban kids I used to teach college English to, preaching the value of a strong thesis statement or extolling the virtues of Langston Hughes.

This isn't one of those "I'm done with the hobby" posts.  If anything, the escape that cards provide are one I need more than ever.  But I guess what I'm saying is it's time to learn to collect differently.  So sorry I've been far, far behind on trade packages, thank you posts, and just generally posting pretty pictures of baseball cards.  I promise we'll be back to our regularly scheduled program as soon as possible.

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