DX Stories by Paul M. Dunphy, VE1DX

The Pot-Stirrer

One of the local QRPers came around the curve at the bottom of the hill and just stood there, looking up the hill. As we may have mentioned before, living on a hillside has its advantages . . . but it also has its disadvantages. The disadvantage this morning was we couldn’t quite make out the expression on the QRPers face. Usually they plough right on up and it’s possible to get a look at their expression. This often helps in making the decision whether to get out the ice tea or bar the doors and take the phone off the hook.

The QRPer stood there, hands on his hips for a full five minutes and then, just as we were distracted by the squawk of the 2-metre spotting repeater, he made his move . . . beating his way up the hill full stride. By the time we had turned back to look his way, eye contact had been made and we were trapped. Not that this was necessarily a bad thing, but our option of locking the door and going into hiding had been lost. The QRPer made it to the verandah and stood looking at us with a pensive stare. In hindsight, even had we studied him with binoculars while he was down on the road, we wouldn’t have been able to read a lot from his expression.

The QRPer just sat there and stared and stared. We’d never seen anything like it! This one, in particular, always had something to say . . . he’d always had an opinion on everything DX related. There was cause for concern. “What’s up?”, we finally asked, for even after all these years we too could be worn down. He just looked at us and continued to stare. We were becoming concerned. Something must have rocked the foundations of the DX world. This was serious. We tried again. “How are the bands?” Nothing. We gave it a final shot; “The ARRL has put the DXCC listings back in QST, right?” The QRPer just looked at us with a blank stare.

Son of a Gun! Ever since the Early Days of DXing, there never had been a QRPer so stoic. So we hauled him up to the Old Timer. This time there was no stream of words and no arm waving and pounding of fists to drive the point home. QRPers always find some concern about DX or, more commonly, a newly perceived flaw in the DXCC program they thought they had found. The Old Timer looked over at the QRPer for a moment, and then back at us. “What’s wrong with him?”, we asked in a truly concerned tone. “Nothing”, the Old Timer replied, “it happens every few years. Usually with one of the newly minted QRPers like this one. They can’t understand the confusion, so they seize up for a few days. He’ll be OK by New Year’s.”

We thought about it for a few minutes. “Of course!”, we replied, smacking ourselves in the forehead as it became clear. “This is the first time he’s seen the Pot-Stirrer in action.” The Pot-Stirrer was Slim’s cousin and he was more active than Slim, but usually he got ignored. The Pot-Stirrer rarely worked HF, and more recently had been showing up on the Internet. “It’s the FT5 Pot-Stirrer, isn’t it?”

The Old Timer nodded in agreement. “Yep . . . and he did a real good job. One whine and he had a couple of hundred bites. Even a few of the Big Guns bit this time. And when a newly minted QRPer sees all these guys sling the DX muck at each other for the first time, they often end up forgetting that DX IS! They become disillusioned with DX and DXers. A few give up altogether. And while Slim just steals your QSO, and maybe your green stamp, a Pot-Stirrer and the Legion of Hand Wringers that listen to him steal DXers from the hobby. That’s the way it’s always been and that’s the way it always will be. But this fellow, he won’t quit. He still understands that DXers are a cut above the rest. And while this is a learning process for him, he’ll be back. He has to . . . look at the bands. There’s DX for all! The Great Days of DXing have returned!”

We thought about this as we led the QRPer back down the hill. The Palos Verdes Sundancers had worked four long years to bring the flux back up. The Old Timer was right. There is DX for all, although for some more than others. We wondered if the Pot-Stirrer was a DXer or not. We still wonder. It’s a good question. Meanwhile, DX IS!

73/DX Paul VE1DX (EX: VE1PMD, VE1UK, VE0UK, CJ1UK, etc.)

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