Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Meeting a Gun Show Curmudgeon (Rant)

I don’t often go off on a rant—I leave that up to Yosemite Sam (Bill earned the nickname). But, every now and again I have to vent. You’ve been warned.

What is it about some pro-gun people? On one hand, I’ve met friendly people, but on the other hand, I’ve met the meanest, cantankerous old farts you never hope to meet. I met one of the latter last Saturday.

Bill and I went to the Manchester Gun Show. There was the usual mix of guns, knives, books, and other merchandise. Bruce of mAssBackwards was there and he found a new friend.

I’m at that point in my collecting life where I own most of the guns on my list. I go to a gun show to find a “Holy Grail” gun, but mainly I’m there to buy ammo, accessories, and decent reference books.

Bill and I first roamed the show without buying anything. We don’t like to carry stuff with us, but will mentally mark tables and come back to buy. As part of our initial tour, I bellied up to a table of gun books and saw several that I wanted. I got no response from the dealer, maybe I had turned invisible. No biggie, I wasn’t going to buy then anyway.

The second time I slid up to the book table, I pulled out the first book I wanted. It had a sticker price of $54.95. The table owner was talking to another dealer. I took my wallet out of my purse; he’s still talking to another dealer. The visiting dealer says something like, “Looks like you got a customer.” The table owner continues his point with the second dealer for about two more minutes.

The book dealer finally turns to me. Do I get a pleasant “can I help you” or even a gruff “whatcha want?” No I get a scowl and raised eyebrows. I said, “Would you take $50.00 for this book?” I usually offer a little less than the sticker price at a gun show, just in case the dealer welcomes dickering. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. But they always let you know.

I expected to hear either “yes” or “all books are priced as marked.” Either would be welcome and would help me decide how many books I would buy. Instead, I hear “NO” blatted out much like a goat’s bleat. I swear it was loud and at least three syllables long. He then folded his arms and scowled.

I don’t know what I expected, perhaps only affirmation as a customer if nothing else. I slid the book back into the box and left with the $150.00 in cash I might have spent at his table. Maybe I’m being too sensitive, maybe he was having a bad day (although he seemed pleasant with the other dealer). Maybe he had noticed me at the table earlier and felt I wasn’t going to buy. Maybe, he thought a woman was not a serious customer. Maybe one or all of the above.

As I said at the beginning, I’ve met pleasant people and unpleasant people at gun shows or stores. The same’s true in any walk of life. Still, it soured me on the whole show and we left with only one box of ammo. I went home and bought the same book online that he didn’t sell me in person and ironically the order came out to $55.00 even with postage.

Bill thought that the guy’s in business primarily to chew the fat with cronies he sees at every show. Maybe that explains a few things, but he still represents the curmudgeonly side of gunnie-dom; at least to me.

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