Monday, April 03, 2006

"Thank you for calling Fort Bragg. How may I direct your call?"

"I am an Ex-Special Forces Operator!" he bellowed, red-faced, leaning across the counter.

"I understand, sir, but rules are rules."

As he walked off, one of the customers that had witnessed the display murmured the quote I'm using for a title.

New employees at the shop are shocked to find out that the stories on the internet gun boards are true. They're out there, in all their myriad forms: Mall ninjas. Holster sniffers. Strange rangers. Armchair commandos. Not terribly common, no, but once every couple of days they get to meet someone whose tendency to, er, exaggerate is all too obvious. And once in a great while, they get to meet one who provides such a rich vein of comedic gold that they'll be able to dine out on it for weeks.

I was up on the stepladder, hauling down my 9mm AR carbine to show a friend, when a voice below and behind me declared loudly "That's exactly the one I wanted to see!" I shrugged apologetically to my friend, and handed the weapon to the newcomer. He grasped it in his fingerless gloves and, squinting one-eyed through the EOtech, started taking sightings on the AC vents in the ceiling, the doorknob to the storage room, and (for all I know) the north star.
"This is just like the ones we used in The Teams." He poked a digit at the gun's optic. "How do you turn this on?" After he'd handed it back and went to sign up to go out on the range, one of my sales guys was overheard doing a sotto voce Billy Idol impersonation (in regard to the fingerless gloves:)
Last night a little ranger
Came humping 'cross my floor...
Where this urge to exaggerate comes from, I don't know. It certainly seems to be untempered with a fear of discovery; after all, you never know who's listening when you wax hyperbolic. The "Operator" of the first paragraph launched his tirade in front of a customer and a sales clerk who were, respectively, veterans of a Bundeswehr light infantry reconnaissance company and the 75th Ranger Regiment. Rather than impressing anybody, he might as well have tattooed "Make Fun Of Me" on his forehead. Instead he was later found talking to our instructor, a career cop and SWAT team commander, about all the police officers he's saved by coming to their aid in roadside gunfights. As one coworker said to me "I'd only been out there five minutes and he'd already killed two bad guys and was working on his third."
"Have Gun, Will Travel" reads the blog of the man
A retired operator in a savage land.
The internet, of course, greatly expands the horizons for the fabrication of Heroic Life Stories. No longer limited to holding gun store clerks and random patrons hostage until their eyes glaze over, one can now log onto a BBS and talk the ears off thousands. Or maybe start a blog.

Did I tell you about the time I parachuted into Kandahar to save those Red Cross workers? Armed with nothing but a silenced .22 pistol, I...

24 comments:

BobG said...

I don't know how many "ex-Seals" I've run into...

Porta's Cat said...

Shit, I sell guns AND run a gym.

You know how many guys who were "Secret SEAL Team 6" and used to bench press 700 lbs. are out there?

Diamondback said...

It's been my experiance that mostly the "real deal" tend to be rather silent about their service to the point that often their own family and friends don't know very much about their past service history Other than they were in the service.

Josh said...

Knowing a lot of BTDT guys, I gotta say that having the posers and mall ninjas around is what makes it fun. If evreyone were a respectable, respectful patron things would get real boring real fast. But with customers who want that sooper tricked out SEAL Six/Delta pistol capable of one-shot stops out to 500meters, there is never a dull moment.

The best is when they tell a Ranger "If you have to ask what I do or who I am, I can't tell you" but don't realize they're looking down the wrong end of a Schmidt and Bender, saying its broken, or like you said, asking how to turn on a sight.

Debbie said...

Oh, this one can cause endless hilarity.

There was the guy who claimed a Wilt Chamberlain like number of combat jumps (just over 2 a day for 5 years)

My favorite though was one guy who was not overly bragging and more knowledgable than the average wannabe. He would have gotten away with it if he had not mistakenly claimed the job, base and team that had been held by the guy he was bragging to. The time overlap was 3 years out of 4, but hey who is counting?

BobG said...

I agree with diamondback; a friend of my dad's that we used to go backpacking and camping with a lot was like that; I knew he was an ex-Marine, but it wasn't until years later that I found out he was a veteran of some vicious combat in the Pacific during WWII, and was at Chosin in the Korean War. He had a doctorate in philosophy, was fairly quiet, and liked reading poetry. He was NOT someone who took BS from people, though.

Paul Simer said...

Holster sniffers?

I like to sniff a new leather holster when I get it. But it's like my wife's habit of flipping through the pages and sniffing a new book.

What do you really mean?

In my limited experience, it seems that the people who've BTDT are the quiet ones who you'd never suspect.

nwgfcqe!

Oleg Volk said...

Look for the folks who are lip-reading and trying to catch your words with their left ears...there's your former infantry. Pretty much no one who's been there and done than and then some seems keen on discussing the details. Except Preacherman...it's all low-brow comedy for him, complete with physical humor in 9x19.

W. Horseradish said...

I've had a few rather unforgettable encounters, starting with a staggering-drunk guy in an all-night laundromat yelling about how his whole unit was killed in 'Nam. He had some scars, too, but I seriously doubt he was born by the time that fight was over.

The ones I really love are the guys that can't keep their stories straight from one sighting to the other.

This one unsung hero at various points in time told me he a. spent his life fighting communism b. stormed the beaches of the Philippines c. was a door gunner on a Huey, with a GE minigun, no less. I think there was some more, but I just started spacing out...

DirtCrashr said...

I've never run into any of these guys, they sound hilarious though. I thought Mall-ninjas were Goths wearing black - I must be out of it.

Heartless Libertarian said...

I've known some BTDT guys who talked a lot, but all of those were under 25, and young aggressive males can be like that.

Current and former SF, those guys are always quiet.

Rangers-the young ones are loud, especially if they've been drinking. The older ones, NCO types, are usually simply coldly and scarily competent.

Cowboy Blob said...

I've learned that to find a BTDT Guy, you don't look around the range at a 3-Gun Match...besides the cops and the pros, we're all wannabes. I couldn't swing a cat without hitting a lawyer, chiropractor, or some other professional type. OTOH, sitting around a movie set in cowboy outfits, the subject of foreign languages came up and I mentioned that I'd attended the Defense Language Institute...and who wudda thunk it that the two other guys sitting at my table were graduates from there, one a retired CIA officer, the other, a former Green Beret. The subject changed quickly; I think it was to agree that Gary Busey was a cast iron prick.

Xavier said...

Hiya Tam.............
Speaking of these types, we are eagerly awaiting your arrival here.

phlegmfatale said...

much mirth here. Beautiful post - incredibly funny. And a little sad. I have a couple cousins who are compulsive liars, and it's a marvel. One played a tape of Journey and insisted it was his tribute band. What can you say?

Curly said...

Back in the days when I actually worked for a living, I had a boss whom I really liked. Quiet, thoughtful. Not very big. With reference to what Greg Volk said, my boss was deaf in his left ear. After working for him for three or four years, I found out he was a platoon leader with Merrill's Maurauders, and made the entire campaign in Burma. Earned a Silver Star. Hell of a man, but you would never hear it from him.

Curly

pdb said...

Out of morbid curiosity, what was Sgt Fury's offense? I suspect a combination of Rules 2 and 3, but I think redlining the BS meter should also be a banishable crime.

shooter said...

Another fine post, Tam! In my younger days, I used to puff my chest and brag about similar feats of derring-doo-doo. After losing respect of some people I admired, I quickly lost interest. To be honest, I did it to get laid...never worked.

I work in a range, too, and see tac-tards all the time. I have more respect for cockroaches than those guys. The operators I know, I would have never known what they did unless they volunteered the info. They are that unassuming.

Anonymous said...

"This is just like the one we used in The Teams. How do you turn this on?"

ROFLMAO! Too bad you didn't laugh him out of the store...

--Wes S.

Rustmeister said...

I had one hanging at the local gun range a while back. He'd answer his (loudly ringing) cell phone "Fugitive Recovery" (again, loudly). Did this at least three times.

He then proceeded to tell me how his girlfriend once brought down a fleeing fugitive with a shot from her 9mm pistol - at a range of about 75 meters.

I'm the kind of guy who thinks being confrontational with a mentally unstable person in a gun store is a bad thing, so I let him ramble. It was kinda entertaining, after all.

DirtCrashr said...

tac-tards - A new word!! Tastier than a tic-tac, but only slightly bigger!

Ranger Tom said...

Go to any American Legion post across the country... I've been a Legionair for 10 years now and I never knew just HOW many SF guys were in Viet Nam!

Those who did, don't talk about it.

Anonymous said...

Hah...funny how no one poses as a former USAF communications officer, traumatized by countless hours filling out forms in the Pentagon trying to get permission to plug a secure phone into a power outlet.

I'll never doubt someone who tells a mundane story about the service. Posers always seem to be the ones knifing hadjis in the dark.

-BLT

Quilly_Mammoth said...

I hear some of those AF commo guys worked in the Predator program. Commo being an important thing when controlling an armed drone....

Cheesy said...

I hate rude people, regardless of who they say they are or where they're from.
There's an old saying about the ones that do the most talking saw the least action.
Probably applies here.