Most of you know I'm hard on taxidermists and harder on the industry as a whole. I've said for 30 years that we have to be the dumbest people on the planet right next to the clientele who use us. This is a sad story of exactly what I'm talking about. The names have been changed to protect the worthless, but the scenario is real and the person who experienced it has kept me updated all along. One of our net members, a young woman with a lot of potential was setting up a small shop out west. She'd learned most of what she knew from reading, asking questions here, and convention seminars. She knew she'd reached the limit of what she should gain on her own so she ventured out seeking to find someone - anyone - who could help her step her game up. Now these are HER WORDS and it makes my guts churn when I think of what she said. "I can't find anyone who'll teach me or take me as an apprentice. I've even looked for people I can pay, but I'm not a very pretty or a very shapely girl and every guy I've talked to just turns me away. I've seen them fall all over the pretty young women but they won't talk to me. I can't help how I look, I just want to be a better taxidermist." Now let's not play games. I've seen some of you Lochinvars out there. I know you're God's gift to femininity, and I'm POSITIVE that you'd have been guilty of something like this given the opportunity. About an hours drive away, Mike runs a shop and his work is pretty well known in the local area. She talks to him and is willing to drive and work for him just to teach her his techniques. When she gets there initially he's helpful but as she improves, he becomes an ass. He starts belittling her for what she doesn't know and if she asks him for help, it's given begrudgingly. Still, he wants her to work in the shop for a small wage as he has a huge backlog of about 400 mounts. She's eager to get started, but immediately finds that some work is off-limits. She's not allowed to MOUNT deer but she IS allowed to finish them. African work or big mammal dioramas are out as only he can do those. He doesn't even want her around when he's doing them. I told her early on that she should get the Hell out of there, but she told me he was her only hope of advancing as no one else would take her. It seems that Mike had made sure of that by badmouthing her to other taxidermists around. Her finishing abilities increased but she was on her own. When she asked what colors to use or how to blend them, Mike would scream at her and tell her how dumb she was for not knowing. While she worked, if customers came into the shop and showed any interest in what she was doing, Mike would come over and tell the person that her work wasn't really that good or he'd shout insults across the shop in front of the client. Tonight she informed me that she'd had enough and finally took my advice. She removed all of her equipment she'd taken over and left. Mike still owes her over a thousand dollars and she says she has little hope that she'll ever get paid for it. Now this isn't a fairytale. This played out right in front of me. This happened to one of our own and it's disgusting and pitiful. To think a taxidermist would treat another person, much less a person under his employ this way is despicable. Next time someone asks you for help, think about this situation. I hope you're not like Mike.