You see, the world has been dumping on my pops in epic fashion for the better part of his life. His ability to maintain good humor through the worst roadside breakdown story anyone has ever heard or his fight against Verizon over basic service FOR CRYING OUT LOUD (sorry, I occasionally channel my pop) doesn't surprise me. It's so much a part of who he is that I hardly notice anymore.
As to what my father's plague of bad luck has to do with my son, let me take you back to when Jacob had finally settled on a deck to play during the new Standard season (spoilers for an upcoming article, Jacob has made a commitment to play at a higher level after some talks with the parents).
Several Weeks Ago...
...in a dining room far, far away, our young hero was seated at the family computer searching through net decks to find something he wanted to play. This scene had repeated several times in recent days in our household. No decision had been made yet, but it wouldn't be much longer. It was September 29th, and in a week and a half States would be held. It was time to pull the trigger.
Jacob and I had talked extensively over the past couple of weeks about this. I had spent some time watching the SCG NJ coverage the previous weekend and felt I understood the current meta.
Ok, you've got me. I didn't understand it all (this was prior to the Pro Tour). Neither did anyone else...but I was pretty sure that I was figuring out the direction it will go in (hint, the same direction it's always gone in). Jacob seems to like my logic. Either that, or he's really thinks some of the cards are boss. It wouldn't matter to me if he wanted to play U/W Control, I'd support him. It's also possible I'd call him some names if that's what he wanted to do, but I'd support him.
Luckily, the kid seemed to be pretty smart and had picked a deck that would adjust well to the changing metagame. Better yet, between our two collections he thought he had most of the cards necessary.
Great! Let's build a deck.
Panic Sets In
Jacob started where he always seemed to. He popped open his rare binder and started looking through it, pulling cards as he found them. Just a few minutes into his search for the right cards, he started to grumble. It's something he does while building. I don't even pay attention to it anymore, it's just part of his process.
After a bit of time he finishes with our binders and moves into looking through his decks. He's not a half hour into this process when I notice the tone of his grumbling has shifted into a new gear. I start to hear what can only be described as low-level panic mixed with a hint of anxiety and a dash of, "Oh [expletive redacted because this is a family friendly article]!" I could tell, even in another room and occupied with dinner prep, that something wasn't right. I called out, asking if he needs any help.
"Yeah," he snaps, "Have you seen my commander deck?" He only has three or four of them, but when he referred to it this way I knew immediately which one was missing. He was talking about the one he was most proud of (and the one he built first).
I respond with the usual parental claptrap. It wasn't particularly useful, but I got him moving towards looking instead of simply complaining. He's 13. In terms of parent/son relationships and missing items, this means he's got to solve his own problems with minimal parental oversight. Plus, I was hungry. Since there was no blood was involved with his problem, I was going to finish cooking first. A man must have his priorities.
I'm going to spare you the details of the search. Suffice it to say, he was more thorough than most boys his age. I searched as well, once I had some free time and realized that he wasn't having any success. As I mentioned before, this one wasn't just some random collection of cards that were the same color. No, this was his baby. His G/R Ruric Thar deck was not to be found anywhere. This deck was the first one he had made and likely the one with the most card value, time invested, and favorable memories.
I don't know if either of us will know how valuable the deck was, but it wasn't peanuts. The deck held cards he was going to put into a Standard Tier 1 deck which would have saved him at least $70 (lands included). Beyond that, I won't hazard a guess. It wasn't a thousand dollar deck by any definition. There were no more than one or two cards that were signed and a few foils of various persuasions. At least none were custom/altered art as far as I know. Somewhere between two and four planeswalkers were in it as well. Ultimately, a low value EDH deck. But the sentimental value to him was pretty significant.
How did it disappear? Did it fall out of his bag or did someone with nefarious purpose in mind liberate it from him? I won't ever know how it happened. I'm sure I know where it disappeared though, which doesn't sit well with me.
But me being upset at the financial loss, or sad for his loss of innocence (theft of personal property can be pretty jarring), or ticked off at a group of people I considered to be decent won't bring the deck back. Me trying to teach Jacob more about personal responsibility won't do much either. Because I was aware of some of the more publicized thefts in the past year so it shouldn't come as any surprise that I've been working with him to be more aware of what he's doing with his gear. He acts more aware of his bag and decks than most adults carrying valuable legacy decks, so I know I'm getting through to him.
The worst part of all of this is? Feeling more than a little helpless.
I can't watch Jacob's stuff for him. And even the most aware individual will have moments where they are distracted, so I don't want him to become obsessed over this. If someone wants something bad enough, as a rule they'll figure out how to take it. Even if it is something a 13 year old treasured more than a little bit.
There is a moral for this story. The family friendly version is this: some people are jerks, minimize your contact with them when you can, and pay attention to your gear. Or we could always reference the wisdom of my father at the top of the page.
Be the Change
On matters of security, I have two final thoughts to share. First, there are some interesting products out there that are worth investigating (links posted below). Or you can do what Jacob and I will be doing in the future - only bringing the items we need to events and a guy named Biff. Everyone needs a guy named Biff in their corner.
Secondly, if you can't beat them then I recommend finding a way to have the last laugh. This Saturday, I'm doing just that. I'll be one small cog in the machine that will be overseeing all of security for Eternal Weekend in Philadelphia. I may not do more than check wristbands and bags, but for me it's an important step in combating theft in the community. So if you see me on Saturday (I'll be one of the 'older' people helping), feel free to say hi. Just don't come to Eternal Weekend and plan to steal somebody else's deck. I wouldn't want to pull my security ninjitsu on you and call for the Philly PD. After Jacob's loss, there is no way I want to see anyone else lose their deck.
[Full Disclosure: I'm 99.9% sure I know when and where Jacob's EDH deck disappeared. Unfortunately, that doesn't help me track it down for several reasons I don't want to get into here. If you care for your gear, then pay attention to it at all times. Make sure your bags are zipped closed when not in use. Keep your bag on your back or under your seat with your feet on it at all times. Don't leave your gear lying around. And for Pete's sake, make sure you only bring what you need for the event - leave the expensive stuff at home.]
Reblogs, Retweets, & Mentions of all kinds are appreciated - as an independent writer I'm only read when others like what they see and share with their friends.
Shameless Plug 1 - Go to Eternal Weekend!
Shameless Plug 2 - Help Make Un-set 3 a Reality!