We were sitting on the veranda in the late afternoon sun, thinking about the Great Days of DXing during cycle 22, when we noticed one of the Local QRPers making his way up the hill. We usually are quite tolerant of the Locals and their search for enlightenment. However, this was one of the days we should have quietly slipped out the back door. The QRPer was not alone. We had to look twice, for this was one of the strangest things we had seen in years. The QRPer had a person with him that almost defied description.
He was at least 350 pounds, no more than five feet tall and had bright red hair. He had a brush cut, and his buck teeth jutted out just below his Charlie Chaplin moustache! The QRPer made his way in and proudly looked at us and his friend. He was expecting us to say something, but we were at a loss for words. "This is my cousin East Coast Bob", he said proudly. "I just picked him up at LAX this morning." We just stared in awe. "Howdy-do!", Bob said in a strong New Jersey accent, "I hear you suffering-sixes have a tough time cracking Europe when us east coast guys are on the air! Hee hee!"
Son of a Gun! East Coast Bob's personality matched his looks. And, his reputation as well. However, since the QRPer was clearly proud of his cousin, and we had been taught to be polite, we decided to be diplomatic. "Welcome to Marin county", we replied, "Care for a glass of ice tea or a bite to eat?", we asked. "Naw", Bob said, letting out a rather large belch, "ate and drank like a pig on the plane. I'm here to talk DX! In fact, I'm here to get me a new country or two. I'm a computer man as well as a DXer. Word has it you have BS7H and both JD1s confirmed on 40 and 80-metres. Mind if I look at your QSLs?", he asked, getting right to the point.
Any True Blue DXer is always willing to show his QSL cards to another HAM, so we went to the file and got our Scarborough Reef, Minami-Torashima and Ogasawara QSLs. "Here they are, Bob.", we said, rather proudly, for we were quite pleased to have these on the low bands. While we were getting the cards, Bob had taken some kind of laptop computer put of a case he'd been carrying. He had it on the table and was plugging some other gadget into it when we returned. "Nice cards", he muttered, and flashed up the computer. The QRPer was looking over East Coast Bob's shoulder intently. Curiosity got the best of us. "What are you doing?", we asked as Bob passed the gadget plugged into his computer over our cards.
"Just scanning them", he replied and we looked at images of the QSLs appear on the computer screen. We were both impressed and confused at the same time. "What does that thing do?", we asked, "you aren't going to put any marks on our cards with that thing, are you?" East Coast Bob handed our cards back and said, "Nothing to worry about. They are as good as new. I just wanted to get digital images of them on my hard disk. I'll edit the time and call later."
We were hit with realization like a ton of bricks! We were speechless and we could feel the veins in our neck pulse with anger as we reached a plateau of outrage we'd never hit before. "Get out of here!", we bellowed, "get out of our sight as fast as you can!" We grabbed the computer off the table and slammed it on the floor. East Coast Bob and the QRPer were heading for the door as fast as they could, but not fast enough! We'd driven a screwdriver through the computer a dozen times by the time they got to the doorstep. Then we swung the computer by its scanner cord to full speed and let go. It bounced off Bob's head as he hit the driveway and waddled off down the hill. The QRPer had far out distanced him by now, for he knew full well this was not the place to be.
It took us a few days to calm down enough even leave the yard. We'd retrieved the computer and beaten what was left to a flat blob with our hammer! We had to admit we felt a lot better. We were finally about back to normal when the same Local QRPer came back up the hill and nervously poked his head in the door. "Just put Bob on a plane back to the east coast.", he said in a meek voice, staring at the floor and avoiding our eyes. What could we say? We'd vented our anger enough so we simply thought about what Albert so often said: "All things are relative, some more so." The QRPer looked at us and replied, "Albert was right . . . and even more to the point, you can pick your friends, but you can't pick your relatives."
Son of a Gun! The QRPer was beginning to understand the Mysteries of the Ages. He was still not one of the Deserving, but we were convinced that enlightenment was a lot nearer than it was a few days ago. Maybe folks like East Coast Bob did serve a purpose . . . although we had a hard time admitting this! Bring on the DX! The Great Days of DXing are near. The signs are everywhere. DX IS!
Best Regards, Paul
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