Monday, June 02, 2008

faith restored

Call me naive, but I like to think that you would be hard-pressed to find a more honest group of people than a gathering of rug hookers. I have always been quite carefree about my supplies. Whether they be at a workshop I'm teaching - or one that I'm taking - I have never really been too worried about sticky fingers. I'd always been able to turn a blind eye to the prospect that rug hookers would knowingly take from other rug hookers, until last year...

Over the course of a couple of months, I was confronted by the definite loss of both a sample copy of instructions at a hook-in and, a short time later, a complete pattern at R.U.G. In the case of the pattern, a woman had brought it over to me, asked me some questions, and never returned to the table to settle-up. Needless to say, these events left a bad taste in my mouth.

I tried telling myself that if someone is so hard up that they need to resort to stealing, than I should feel sorry for them. Instead, I started to feel angry. And I started to wonder about how many other times - times when I was not paying attention or didn't really care - things had been taken.

As I began talking with others about these events, I quickly discovered that my experience was not unique. Almost everyone had a story - and many had more than just one. And then I started to feel just a little ill...

Most people who sell rug hooking supplies and patterns do so because they love the craft and they want to share this passion with other people. For most, if not all, it provides a little income to off-set their wool-buying habit. It does not replace the salary of a real job. No rug hooking vendor will ever be featured on the cover of Fortune 500 - or likely any business magazine, for that matter. The profit margins are small, and any amount of theft makes a direct impact on the bottom line.

Imagine my surprise when a stranger approached me at the Annual, one of my patterns extended in her hand. She identified herself as the same woman I had spoken with the year before at R.U.G. and told me about how she had taken ill in the middle of the meeting and had to leave suddenly. A friend had packed up all of her belongings and it was quite some time later before she got around to sorting out her bags - only to discover the pattern mixed in with her things. She was horrified, and so in the middle of a busy weekend, she took a special trip to Midland, hoping to see me and have a chance to return the pattern.

It was one of the highlights of my weekend...and while I'm hopefully not naive enough to believe that all people are as honest and humble, it is sure great to know that such goodness still exists. My faith is restored.