DX Stories by Paul M. Dunphy, VE1DX

Past The Equinox

I call and call ‘CQ DX’ with nary a response
Once March has past and conditions drop
It’s time to lay another 50 radials on top

A few days ago one of the local QRPers was up the hill, both enlightened with the prospect of the spring season, and at the same time disillusioned at the prospect of poorer conditions now that we had passed the spring equinox. “I’ve come to ask your advice, to draw upon your experience as a true blue DXer, and I’m sure you can help me.”

We were warmed by his words, but still a bit cautious. Many times we had started a discussion with one of the QRPers on a friendly note, only to find it ended on rather harsh terms if he didn’t agree with us. For while we are always willing to give our best advice, Locals often come with pre-answered questions.

“Tell me”, he said, grasping our hand firmly and staring at us with his beady little eyes, “What’s the deal with DXers? We start out being amazed with the ability to talk to other amateurs all over the world, and within a short time we only worry about our DXCC totals. Fellows I’ve met at Dayton, and even at the local DX club, transform from really nice guys to ogres on the air. They tramp all over everyone, police the DX frequencies, join DX nets or blast those that do! And then when they come back to the clubs, they are their normal selves. Sure, they wear little badges with their DXCC totals, and some even have an Honor Roll pin stuck on their hats, but they are back to their normal Elmer-like personalities. It doesn’t make sense.”

Although we're sure we had the answer, we did not try to respond to the question straight out. “You have to understand,” we replied, “that there is no pleasure in life as great as DXing. Absolutely nothing. And once the initial glow of working a hundred countries or so has worn off; once the magic of hearing someone in Europe or Asia come back to your CQ call is normal, DXing becomes war! It is your nearness to DXCC #1 Honor Roll that counts. And the closer you get, the more importance one places on one’s standings. While it may be all robins and roses at the DX club, or even at Dayton, beating out W3LPL or even VE1DX on the air is all that matters. Understand?”

“Yes, I think I understand,” he replied slowly, finally letting go of our hand and walking back toward the end of the veranda, “but why such vehemence on the air? Is one country more or less that important? Or for that matter, those that have almost all of them worked seem to be even worse, bellowing for hours just for a band country or to get on a list to work a new prefix!” He took a deep breath, and diverted for a moment. “And speaking of lists, don’t you despise them? Why would any self respecting DXer be caught on a list?”

We held up our hand and cut him off, “The topic of lists has been a sore point ever since the Golden Days of DXing began, and maybe eons before. If lists irritate you, avoid them. If they help you, use them with a clean conscience. Now, back to the question of why true blue DXers seeming unruly and aggressive on the air, OK?”

The QRPer was happy to drop the list question and get back on topic. “Ok, lists or no lists, what is the answer?” We took a short moment to consider this for we were starting to think we’d answered a day’s quota of questions. How does one explain such things to one who may not be ready to understand? We relented and replied with a single word: “Posterity.” He blinked, shook his head and parroted back at us “Posterity?”

“Yes! Posterity! Think about it. In 20, 30 or at most 50 years we’ll all be silent keys. And what will we leave behind? The usual materialistic things like money, real estate and maybe a rig and a tower. But our DXCC totals are what are important! When true blue DXers get on the air, they believe their legacy will live on . . . and of what they will be remembered for. Their DXCC totals, of course!” We were thinking we had laid things out and had headed the Local in the right direction, but there was this blank stare on his face.

“Huh?” the QRPer recovered and sputtered out. “What good are DXCC totals to a silent key?” We took a deep breath and replied, knowing QRPers are never satisfied with a simple answer. “Son, it’s one of the Mysteries of DXing, one of the Eternal Enigmas of the Ages. DXers believe they will be remembered for their DXCC totals and nothing else. Word has it that VE1DX has a headstone already with 'DXCC totals XXX countries’ chiselled on it. And when he finally becomes a silent key, he has instructed his executors to have the XXX replaced with 340 or 350 or whatever his total is at the time.”

“But who goes through cemeteries looking at headstones for DXCC totals?” the QRPer asked slowly. “Who keeps track of your DXCC totals once you’re dead?”

We looked at him intently and responded with two words: “No one.” We were going to leave it at that, but then we added, “And no one keeps track of your DXCC totals while you’re alive, either, except yourself.” The QRPer thought about this for a moment and then asked, “I can’t argue with that, but why do the Big Guns still keep bellowing to get just one more?”

We shrugged and replied: “Who knows? Maybe they know something we don’t.” The QRPer looked at us and he began to shuffle off down the hill. It wasn’t clear if we’d answered the question, but we’d given him something to ponder. Pondering is good for QRPers.

Maybe we were even considering our own position on the matter . . . until we noticed a 160 metre spot for Alaska on the cluster! The heck with posterity or anything else! DX IS! And KL7 on top band didn’t come around very often. We tuned for smoke and began sending our call. It would be a new one! There will always be those Eternal Enigmas known only to the Deserving, and if we attempted to bring up yet another abstract DX concept, it would be bound to revive confusion. So we simply hit the key with our call once again, waiting and knowing that sooner or later the KL7 would hear us.

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


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