A taste of their own medicine

I came to a realization while hounding the Pittsburgh Penguins yesterday afternoon that the hobby is becoming more of a job.

I don't mind putting together a book of cards. Nor am I bothered by the amount of work that goes into avoiding duplication of the 1,145 pucks we have in our collection. I've even come to appreciate the lulls with a day of hounding, creating time to catch up with friends and even make new ones.

Nope, none of that bothers me. What bothers me is the need of a handful of people, mostly dealers, who feel the need to turn a opportunity to collect autographs into nothing more than an ugly rugby scum.

I don't recall ever having that problem in North Carolina. And it sure didn't happen in AHL cities. I first encountered this behavior in Boston, which, when you think of it, should come as no surprise. And, maybe I was naive, but I was disappointed to see it in Tampa.

Much to my own chagrin, I react badly to these instances of, for the lack of a better word, bullying. Yesterday afternoon, a crush to get Sidney Crosby's autograph, despite the best efforts of another daddy, terrified my son to tears. As a result, I've had it.

And rather than walk away, like I know I should do, I remember a lesson I learned as a child. If you run away from a bully, it only makes him stronger and invites him to bother you again. But if you confront bullies, and let them know you're not backing down, they have a tendency to go away.

My wife and son will be taking some time off from adding autographs to our collection. Thankfully, the next few trips will come on work and school days, so it's not like they'll be missing much.

For the next few weeks, beginning Thursday morning with the Washington Capitals, I'll be flying solo. Actually, I'll be doing much more than that. It's time, in a non-physical way, to confront the bullies.

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