Woodstock Area Job Bank

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Over vacation week, I went to my favorite thrift shop to buy two old books (books with stitching not glue) for Sadie and her friend to make art journals over February break.  An art journal takes an old book, removes some of the pages and lets you paint, write or collage over the text— great project for two fifteen-year olds with lots of angst.

While I was looking for two solid books,Tim was shelving books.“Can I help you find something?”

“Not really, you don’t have many old books today.”

Tim looked confused so I tried to explain about the art journals the girls wanted to make.

“I’m autistic” he said, “I don’t understand a lot of things.”

“It’s kinda hard to describe.” I said.

Having set our parameters, Tim and I were now book buddies.

“I like history books and fantasy. I’m a hoplologist. I ask that because I want to know if people will admit that they don’t know what it is.”

 Sheepishly, I confessed,“I don’t know.”

“I study the segment of human culture concerned with weapons, armor and combative accoutrements.”

“Interesting,” I said—which it was.  One of my sons had been obsessed with medieval times since he was in middle school.

“I’m a fletcher too…I make arrows”

Tim whipped out his phone to show me photos of his latest creations which he sells to would-be-archers who attend medieval reenactment fairs.  The arrows were truly works of art.  Tim happily explained the significance of feathers and shafts, color and wraps.  He lost me, but I knew my son would have been fascinated. Tim really was an expert.

As if sensing his audience was drifting, Tim asked, “Is Bilbo Baggins an archer?”

I read The Hobbit many years ago, but I had seen the movie recently so I was pretty confident saying, “No.”

“Yes, he is.”  Tim went on to explain that Tolkien was a hoplologist too and that he clearly presented Bilbo as an archer in chapter eight, during the scene with the spiders. Bilbo was an expert at shooting the wand. Shooting the wand was a medieval game for archers.

Another man began looking through the books and Tim turned his attention to his new customer.  I found what I was looking for and left a few minutes later.

That night I texted my son and presented The Hobbit mystery to him, he presented it to some friends and my husband is now reading the book for the first time.  I didn’t tell any of them about shooting the wand. I just told them that there was proof.  It’s driving them crazy.

I have thought a lot about my conversation with Tim.  I can’t imagine it was easy for him to find a job.  People with autism often have challenges with social skills.   As brilliant as he is, Tim is not exactly your average worker, but he loves books and makes arrows.  How cool is that?

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