A common staple of Errornet gun nut chatter is The Idiot Clerk At The Local Gun Shop. I often have to bite my lip to keep from replying "Have you looked around on your side of the counter recently?"
Some Honest-to-Wotan war stories from the last couple years (First in a Continuing Series):
Guy brings in his Remington 1100 (a semiautomatic shotgun), inquiring if we have a gunsmith. When answered in the affirmitive, he indicates the gun needs work. I pull out a gunsmithing ticket and proceed to start checking the gun in. Now, when filling in the "Work To Be Performed" field, I try to be fairly specific so that our gunsmith, Shannon, knows where to start, so I ask the guy what's wrong with his shootin' iron.
"It ain't workin'."
"Right, but what's it not doing? Failure to fire? Failure to feed? Failure to eject?"
"Somethin's tightened up inside."
"Tightened up inside where, sir? The action? The magazine?"
"Inside the gun. Somethin's tightened up inside." He then held up a mangled piece of metal and helpfully added "This piece fell out, too."
"Okay, but what's wrong with it? What's it not doing?"
"It ain't workin'. Somethin's tightened up inside."
I shrugged, wrote "Somethin's tightened up inside" on the ticket, taped the mysterious widget to the ticket, and sent it back to gunsmithing.
Guy brings in his DIY FAL (ie. a rifle built from a parts kit at home) and indicates that something ain't right with the gun. When asked if it's short-cycling, double-feeding, failing to extract, or what, he pretty much indicated that "All Of The Above" was the answer. I checked the gun in by writing "Make gun run" on the ticket. (When finished, Shannon wrote "Made gun run" at the top of the "Work Performed" field. Smartass.)
Couple comes in with four unruly tots and proceeds to start filling out yellow forms (aka. "The 4473," after the fed.gov nomenclature) on a pair of Hi-Points (extremely lo-bujit pistols); a 9mm for him and a .380 for her. As they're both scribbling industriously on the paperwork, I go to assist another customer in the packed store. I turn away from the other customer to notice that two of their ankle-biters have snatched up the heaters in question and are attempting to play cops and robbers with the guns behind the counter, forcing me to request (loudly) "Can we please get the handguns away from the minors?"
About this time, the father looks up from his 4473 and asks "If I've been convicted of a felony, do I have to put 'yes' in this blank?"
"Uh, well, I reckon so..."
"It wasn't anything serious; I just kicked a cop. I'm off probation, now."
"Well, go ahead and put 'yes' in the blank and we'll see what Nashville says." I replied, trying to think of how to gracefully extricate myself from this situation.
Two minutes later, he and wifey-poo completed their forms and handed them, along with their driver's licenses, to me.
They seemed baffled that the fact that they were residents of Kentucky would preclude them from buying a handgun in Tennessee.
The guns went back in the showcase, the 4473's went in the trashcan, and I went to the bathroom for an Advil.
A pleasant gentleman is in the shop, picking up some repairs. We chat for a moment, and he asks "Hey, can you tell me what a gun's worth?"
"Sure. Do you have it with you?"
"Naw, it's at home."
"Well, without seeing it..."
"Oh, I don't need no appraisal letter or nothin', just a ballpark figure. Jus' curious, is all."
"What kind is it?"
"It's a Luger."
Great. Luger collecting is a hobby unto itself, with jillions of variations of the gun and weighty tomes dedicated to sorting them out... "Um," I mutter, trying to narrow things down "What kind of Luger?"
"A German one."
Great. They're almost all German. "Yes, but what kind of German Luger?"
As you can guess, they're almost all in 9mm. This guy had, in effect, just asked me what his car was worth. What kind of car? Oh, a Ford. With a V-8. As seriously and respectfully as I could, I told him "Somewhere between $250 and $35,000." No doubt he went home happy, having only heard the higher end of the price quote...
So that's the view from my side of the counter. But, hey, it beats flippin' burgers, even if the pay's about the same. All I ask is this: The next time you call the shop and ask the harried-sounding chick on the other end of the line how much your grandpa's Remington is worth, please be understanding if she cackles wildly and says "I can't see it too well from here; hold it closer to the phone."