Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Rude Flea Market Gamers -- Argh!

Last evening while looking at photos of this year's Cold Wars convention in Lancaster, which we had planned to attend but had to pass on due to my wife's employment situation, I flashed back to a bad experience I had a couple years ago at the con's flea market tables.

While we enjoyed the flea market over all, there are always a few guys who just have little or no manners whatsoever. I'm not talking about bathing issues or bad breath issues, as important as those are. I'm talking about rude, selfish behavior that flea markets and cheap deals always seem to bring out.

One guy in particular at that year's flea market really got my goat. There I was, looking through a stack of game books a fellow gamer was selling for only $3 and $5 each. I was moving pretty fast, thumbing through them as I have done thousands of times at flea markets. Suddenly, this "big fellow" pushed his overly-large stomach into my back, leaned and reached around me, and grabbed a pile of books as soon as I reach them in the stack. They were original Rogue Trader rulebooks and supplements in great condition, $5 each.

Then he looked at me like he knew he was doing something wrong, pulled out his wallet, and tried paying for the books as quickly as he could--just like a little bratty kid. Ticked off, I politely mentioned that I had been looking through the books, and that I really would have liked to buy them. He replied "oh well" and that he gotten to them first. (That little "oh well" really ticked me off!) The poor fellow selling the books looked confused and frightened, eyes moving rapidly between the two of us. I could see he feared a confrontation was about to occur. So he took the guy's money and then turned away.

Not wanting to start a big scene, I left it go with a snarky remark that the rulebook would probably fall apart anyway as soon as he bent the spine. (A common problem with the Rogue Trader book that I exaggerated.) I should have just shrugged it off without saying anything, but man-oh-man, I was cheesed! And to boot, we were visiting PA that week to see my dad, who was dying, and Cold Wars was a way for us to escape that sadness for a short while that week. (I've also been thinking a lot about my dad, who died last year at this time. As a result, he and Cold Wars are forever tied together in our minds. But I digress...)

Let's Be Polite, People! Or Else!
Having gone to many flea markets, I've always believed that when someone is looking through a stack of books or rooting through a box of stuff, then that person has first dibs on everything there. (I know this is not a widely held ethic among flea marketeers, which is why I usually approach them with some apprehension, wondering how many jerks will bump and push me.) If I see someone thumbing through a stack of books or rummaging through a box, I'll ask them if they mind if I take a look as well. (Or just wait until they are done!) I'll often ask if there is anything special they're looking for, and even point it out when I find it, even if it were something I had been interested in. After all, they were there first.

Maybe I'm weird that way, but I just find it courteous. My son feels the same way. It also makes for a more enjoyable experience. I did that several times at the Cold Wars' flea market that year. Later on that hour, I even spotted stuff on another table and then bumped into that earlier-guy who let me share the box, tipping him off to check the table on the other side of the room. It's also made for some nice conversations. I don't think I'm being a sucker. I just like helping people when possible.

A Flame This High
But that guy who rudely "stole" those Rogue Trader books out from under me. I really hate that kind of rude behavior. I hope you guys don't have that happen to you--though I suspect it has too many times to remember. And if you're in the other camp... Well, enough said!

A Quick Thanks
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  1. Tell me about it - a few years ago I was at Dave Mckenna's show in Birmingham (West Midlands not Alabama!) when I spotted the dragon and rider from the DFC play-set which was in biscuit tin at a rakish angle in a further box under the table, stooping down and picking a brown one I started to dig for a blue one when a large hand belonging to a well-known ape from Reading came bludgeoning through the ether and grabbed the other dragon with the the wafted refrain 'What's this then?'.

    Now - first he collects 54mm, second - he didn't know what it was and third he only did it because he thought I was about to get a bargain...it's a 1980's piece of Hong Kong crap!!!

    Upshot - because he's well known for this kind of behaviour, I've dined-out on the sympathy the story generates ever since! But I still need a blue DFC dragon-rider....

    The other 'manners issue' is those dealers/stall holders who look at you like you're something on the bottom of their shoe...for no reason...guy's - if you hate getting up at 5am to drive 160 miles to sell second-hand (or new) plastic and lead crap to people you don't like...don't bother...have a lie-in and find another way to make money!

  2. I've had similar experiences at bring and buys but, like you, I always try to be courteous and polite. Chatting with other gamers about what they're looking for is a quite way to spread out the load. If there are five of you all looking for the items each other really wants, it takes a lot less time to finihs browsing and buying. Means more time for the rest of the con.

    My sympathies with regards to your father. Associations with a given yearly event seem impossible to avoid when a loved one dies. Yet they seem to make the processing of mourning all the more difficult.

  3. Condolences on the loss of your father - Mine died in 1987 and then my step dad in 2002 - to many people today care little for what grief people may be having in their lives instead they think its appropriate to bubble the gaming activities to keep out the "stresses of the real world" which are there whether we care to admit it or not. As has already been expressed yearly events do bring the pain of loss ever more to the forefront. For me it was going into a book store and seeing a book my dad would have liked, Or going into Home Depot and being surrounded by the 'candy store" my step dad loved.

  4. PS Sword in the Flame is grand played Sword in Africa at a Convention recently (dont forget a good gamemaster will let you be creative) 1. use cows to absorb wound cards, 2. hide gunpowder in the huts so you blow them up when the European heavy weapons venture to close.


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