Thursday, March 24, 2011

I had won the victory over myself...

At the gun show last weekend, I was shuffling down an aisle, hoping for something interesting to catch my eye after several tables full of new-production Glocks and Smiths and Springfields. I drew level with the table manned by the guy from whom I'd bought my .32 Safety Hammerless a few shows back.

"Hey!" he called out, "It's the gal who likes the old guns!" I smiled and nodded, glancing over his wares and remembering how he'd spent time painstakingly explaining to me how a top-break Smith was opened and how the thing on the back was a grip safety and...

"I've got some special ones you might like to see," he said, pulling a big Plano case out from under the table and popping the latches. He lifted the lid to reveal several absolutely gorgeous Model Number One-and-a-Half New Models, that wer...

"Now, these are .32 rimfire Smiths," he said "which are 'tip-ups' instead of 'top breaks', and that means they..." He proceeded to go on and demonstrate the reloading process for a tip-up Smith while I bit my tongue and ogled the absolutely cherry nickel plating on one he wasn't handling, which was... wait; the trigger and hammer were plated as well, rather than case-colored, which meant...

"Now this one," he continued "is the purtiest of the bunch, but you can see that the hammer and this little trigger piece are nickel-plated, too. That means it was refinished, because they're supposed to be blued." I continued to bite my tongue while he went on about grips being numbered to frames and the stamped star mark that would indicate a factory refinishing and lots of other fairly basic antique Smith trivia.

Not seeing anything that I couldn't live without, I nodded my thanks and continued on. Not too much later I ran across a table with a really rough Smith & Wesson Model Number Two (a.k.a. the "Old Army", despite the fact it had never been purchased by, you know, the Army.) This example was missing the leaf spring that doubled as a cylinder stop and rear sight, and was horribly pitted, but the owner had dragged it to almost two years worth of shows and its price had gradually been dropping to where it was practically worth it for parts. "Excuse me," I asked, "may I see that really ugly..."

"This is a Smith & Wesson No. 2," he replied, reaching for it. "It's sometimes called the Old Army, even though the Army never adopted it. Now, it's what's called a 'tip-up' Smith, which means it opens like..."

I found that I didn't even have to bite my tongue. Finally, after almost twenty years of snapping back and correcting blatant errors made in patronizing tones, I not only didn't have the energy, but didn't even want to any more. I just smiled pleasantly and let him talk. I had won the victory over myself. I loved Big Brother.

58 comments:

Anonymous said...

DO IT TO ROBERTA!

Tango Juliet said...

You need a t-shirt what sez: "I'm more S&W'ier than you."

Jim said...

If only they knew. You could get a shirt that reads, "Whatever I don't know about this gun I'll ask."

Jim

Tam said...

Tango Juliet,

I guess what always irked me is that it makes a certain sort of sense for Joe Counterdrone at Guns'R'Us to assume a certain level of Lowest-Common-Denominator from a customer, but for an advanced collector, with a small set of high-end wares, should assume that when the person comes up and asks to see "that Model Number One, 3rd Issue", that they know what a Model Number One, 3rd issue is, whether they're 18 or 80, or a pointer or a setter.

John Venlet said...

I had won the victory over myself...

Lady Galadriel, like, though I would not expect you to fade into the East, Tam.

warlocketx said...

I suspect that gurrlz get it worse than guyz, but the phenomenon is by no means entirely sex-linked.

And having been on the other side of the counter a few times, I can assure you that unless you actually know the individual presenting his or her shining face, the best approach is to assume the least common denominator -- then divide by two and truncate. This won't get you in the ten-ring, but it's guaranteed to be on the paper and has a high probability of being inside the circles. This whether you actually know what you're spouting or not.

Regards,
Ric

North said...

I know more than you, Tam, cuz you has teh boobz.

See, pretty lady, that right there is humor that is a mix of snark punctuated by the use of net/LOLspeak meant to denigrate...

John said...

Being a grown-up among the gun-children is tough work.

A sure sign of success, is that one doesn't feel compelled to perform compensatory education either about the object at hand, nor to inform the benighted about one's own knowledge of same.

That takes quite a bit of self-discipline,in fact, when attending such opportunity-rich environments.

Tam said...

warlocketx,

"And having been on the other side of the counter a few times..."

Me too. :)

mikee said...

When we were shopping for our home, my wife was called "Little Lady" by a realtor who then went on to explain that there was, indeed, no limestone under the Texas Hill Country subdivision in which we were standing.

Texas Hill Country is made of a limestone uplift.

While your restraint has obviously been tested more often over antique firearms, I am proud to say my very significant other allowed this realtor to live. His skin may be grown back by now, a decade later.

Just hope that all that bottled-up love for Big Brother doesn't release at once on the Nth patronizing seller at some future gunshow. Or at least have someone video it.

Paul said...

That is called rote memory. The poor sap had been reciteing the same line for so long when you hit the button it all came out. He could no more stop the spiel and take a random trail that he could stop breathing.

I am glad for all of us that you did not use the piece to beat the poor fool into the floor. Good on you there Tam.

TBeck said...

At least dealer #1 got the adjective on the correct noun... ;)

Jay G said...

I must not snark. Snark is the deal-killer. Snark is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

North said...

Mr. Mort La Petite: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Robin said...

I'm glad you can resist.

I still can't.

Anonymous said...

I dunno I still get a kick out of listening carefully, and then tossing out some minor bit of data that indicates " Oh, yes, I know. And I know a lot more besides, in fact I know more than you, quite possibly."

It's bad, I know. But I like to see people stop and go: "Oh dear, I've been talking down to someone." The ones that don;t realize it, well, not worth arguing with.

Of course with guns, I know bugger all. So I shut up.

docjim505 said...

I'd say that warlocketx and Paul hit the nail on the head. It doubtless never occured to the guy that he might be talking to the rare person who actually knows his wares as well (perhaps better) than he does because, after many, many shows and many, many people pointing and asking, "Izzat a Glock or a forty-five?" he was pretty much in auto-pilot mode.

Come to think of it, I suppose that's one good reason for automated help systems: why waste human labor giving rote answers to "frequently asked questions" when a computer can do it, allowing a handful of (hopefully!) expert ACTUAL PEOPLE to deal with the 5% of questions that are non-frequently asked?

Ruzhyo said...

Experienced something like this in miniature a few months ago when a friend of my wife's parents was showing us his collection. He handed me a Mannlicher Carcano and started with "Now, do you remember who President Kennedy was?"

Tam said...

docjim505,

"many shows and many, many people pointing and asking, "Izzat a Glock or a forty-five?""

If either of these guys had a Glock on the table, I'd understand, but they aren't those kind of vendors. They maybe talk to twenty people in a day at the show; they cater to a pretty niche market.

Also, having spent almost fifteen years slinging guns across the glass myself, I can tell you that the manner in which I'd address a customer who asks "Lemme see that there Russian Moisin" is different that if they say "May I see that Finnish M28/30 behind the counter?"

For the former, I'd hand it to him and politely say, "Actually, sir, this rifle is Finnish, not Russian." And maybe let him know gently that there's only one "I" in "Mosin". With the latter, I'd just hand him the gun, comment favorably on it, and wait for his next question.

Joanna said...

I'm still at "shotty thing go boom, make holes" when it comes to gun knowledge, but it's not because I'm a "Little Lady". Only one man allowed to call me that, and you're not him.

staghounds said...

Anon 8.16 wins.

"is the purtiest of the bunch, but you can see that the hammer and this little trigger piece are nickel-plated, too. That means it was refinished, "

beats "this one has almost all the original nickel, even on the hammer and trigger."

jon spencer said...

Just like calling tech support, they have to follow the script.

Tango Juliet said...

:) Another great post Tam.

Tam said...

staghounds,

Oh, the guy's a gem, and is vastly knowledgeable about antique Smiths. I've decided it's worth listening to him recap the Tip-Up 101 stuff in the hopes that he'll throw in some factoids I didn't know while he's at it.

Henry Blowfly said...

I like shooting the breeze with gunnies.
Even when they talk down to me, (rarely, as I am a somewhat grizzled old timer), I still enjoy swapping or acquiring firearm factoids.

Bubblehead Les. said...

It's not necessarily that you Love Big Brother, but you've probably reached the age where it's just too damn tiring to get into it with the ignorant (outside the BlogoSphere, that is). Welcome to Middle Age. How's your back and knees doing? And don't you wish those damn kids would keep that noise down and DAMNIT, I TOLD YOU TO GET OFF MY LAWN! You'll have a wonderful time here. Nothing like the joy of walking into the Grocery Store and wondering why you're paying twice as much for something and it's half the size of what it was 20 years ago. Sigh! :(

Discobobby said...

Mikee: In the early/mid 1990s I decided it was a great idea to take a road trip from Iowa City to the Great Southwest with my Geologist girlfriend, with our first rest stop somewhere around DFW.

Faulty Assumption #1: Geologist Girlfriend can read a map. I can be forgiven this one, given that she's a F*ING GEOLOGIST.

Faulty Assumption #2: After 20 straight hours in the car, either of us will be rational enough to read a map. This I cannot be forgiven, but I was young, and implicitly stupid.

We reach a decision point in Texas about 3AM at the corner of Hell's Half Acre and FM-666. Geologist Girlfriend insists the town we're looking for is to the right, off into the blackest night I have ever witnessed, past cows and chupacabras and devils and dust. To our left is lights, civilization, the glow of neon on the horizon and the promise of a motel and separate beds, if not completely separate rooms. I CAN SEE THE TOWN FROM THE CAR, AND I'M SURE SHE CAN TOO. I made a left, and the only time she was ever angrier with me was 5 minutes later when we stopped at a Motel 6.

And I stayed with her another year. Explains a lot about my choices in life, and my strange aversion to Dallas.

Rabbit said...

When I was heavy into BHP's/P35's, I had a guy tell me that "SILE" stamp indicated it was made for a country that didn't exist after the Great War, and that most of the ones marked as such were lost at sea by a U-boat torpedo attack. Extra-special rare.

He also had flyers on his table for the pool and spa business he ran from his pickup truck, and his Enhanced Blonde Trophy Wife was drawing more attention than any of the pawn shop guns on his table.

Davidwhitewolf said...

Les is right, I think. I hit forty-one last year and all of a sudden several unread SF and fantasy series in my library that I'd meant to read sometime before I die no longer interest me, primarily because I don't feel I have the time or energy to waste on them. This has been at once profoundly liberating yet depressing.

Tam said...

Rabbit,

Those Silesian High Powers are rare ones, for sure! I hear they went down with the U-Boat the US Navy SEALS captured the Enigma machine from.

Just My 2¢ said...

Tam,
I have my Great Great Grandpa's S&W #1 .22 rimfire in a little goatskin leather vestpocket holster. It's a cutie.

I'd love to own a tip-up shooter.
D'ya think you could talk North American Arms into making a #1 repro? I've kept my eye out for a H&R 999 at fun shows too, but they don't show up out here in Wyoming.

Anonymous said...

I figure any youngish gunny worth his cordite would recognize the tall lady as the "Tam the S&W Mistress"

Geodkyt said...

Rabbit,

I'm sorry, your tale has my brain still jumping in a loop like a defective 8-track player. . .

Wow.

vw: "biyer" -- comma, how to piss off

Tam said...

Just My 2¢,

"D'ya think you could talk North American Arms into making a #1 repro?"

I don't know that there's a way to make one that would retain true tip-up mechanicals and still hold up to modern high-velocity smokeless rounds. The latch and cylinder locking systems on that thing were really primitive.

I am not a gunsmith, nor do I play one on the internets, but I would guess that limited numbers of RWS BB caps should be safe in a mechanically-sound No.1.

Robin said...

A recent gun show locally had a pair of dishonest yokels with a Schmidt-Rubin 1889 labeled as a "Model 31 Sniper" and a price tag of thousands.

Those were the ones I couldn't resist pontificating at, even though I know better.

The same fraudulent tag was still on it the next day.

Sport Pilot said...

Tam,FWIW I believe you've come to terms with the gun know it all's more quickly than I did. I fully understood the aggravation you dealt with. Once an individual has started dow the pathway of knowledge and training with firearms, learned from first class instructors, done detailed research and learned basic gunsmitting skill's it's difficult to deal with 'know it all's".

Kristopher said...

Tam: let people underestimate you.

It's an advantage, trust me.

global village idiot said...

I visited that gunshow on Saturday. It's a bit sad, but I think it'll be my last.

It was after my Reserve Drill. I went with one of my Soldiers. He was interested in a shooter - specifically, an M-N - and asked me if I'd help him find a nice one.

He ended up finding a nice one all on his own, thankyouverymuch. 1940 Tula arsenal refurb that's nicer than either of mine. Rifling clean and bore not pitted, recrowned (not counterbored) and pre-Barbarossa fit/finish. Mine are both Ishevsk 1942 and the difference is noticeable.

He asked me if it was worth the $99 asking price. I told him, "You buy this one, and I'll gladly trade you either of mine for it." He got it.

I don't think I'll be going to gunshows much anymore. I've got most of what I need, and if the prices at gun shows were made into a film, most judges would order them banned, they're that obscene.

But mostly, it's because they just don't have anything interesting to show me. When I was little, my uncle used to go to gun shows looking for old pocket watches and usually found a good one. No more. Gun shows nowadays have the advantage over 90s gunshows, that they now lack the paranoia and conspiratorial air during Clinton's presidency. And I saw some interesting Khyber Pass Sniders at one table. My Soldier (a 20-year old Specialist going to IU) asked a lot of "what's that for?" when pointing to some silly overpriced accessory made in China. Most times I just told him "It's for selling."

There was a lady selling old Civil Defense equipment. She saw me (Soldier and I were still in uniform) and she asked me if I knew what any of the stuff on her table was. I informed her that I'm the NBC supervisor for my Company. Didn't say another word to me.

So no, I'm not going to any more gunshows, I don't think. I've just seen it often enough. It's a pity, kind of.

gvi

WV: waronaph - like a cenotaph only Australian.

Kristopher said...

I tried shooting CB caps in my Eli Witney .22.

The first cylinder worked fine. Then one round got stuck in the bore, but I didn't notice until after three more shots, the last round in the stack in the barrel prevented the cylinder from rotating.

I was able to get the slugs out of the bore without damaging it.

I suggest a .22 short instead of CB caps ... gotta actually get that round to get out of that barrel.

Kristopher said...

And an= scaled up version of the new NAA top break, as a Model 1 1/2 clone, in .38 SW ( or .380 with a full moon clip ) would be pretty damned cool ...

Lergnom said...

Tam;
Gracious lady, may I politely and respectfully suggest that the reason these guys go on and on like they do may be found in your mirror?
The poor dufii(plural of dufus) may just be flirting and have no better rap to offer. I speak from experience, BTW. It's tough having a jones for women with more education than me.

Stay safe

Matthew said...

Listening more than talking should be a basic human skill but being able to assess and adjust to a potential customer is an actual skill/art.

There are a lot of folks who get into selling guns out of love who don't know anything about good sales techniques. Witness many gun store owners/employees.

Actual collectors who deal are bound to be, in general, worse.

Tam said...

Kristopher,

"I suggest a .22 short instead of CB caps ..."

Even a .22 short will probably grenade a tip-up if it's a modern smokeless load.

Tam said...

gvi,

It's where I go to hunt the stuff I'm interested in in the wild, as it were.

Sure, I could probably pick up a Bayard 1908 or a S&W No.2 Old Army on Gunbroker, but that always feels too much like hunting over a baited field to me. The looking is half as much fun as the finding...

DirtCrashr said...

You pwned Teh Biggo! Had to check my Supica/Nahas to see which ones the tip-ups were since they are so seldom encountered around here.
My top-break is a model 1891 .22 3rd model Perfected (no recoil shield) with Pope barrel and monogram grips. Both my model 10's are pinned and recessed, I really can't see doing it any other way but they did anyhow...

wv: lamerpot - my lamer post-add.

Justthisguy said...

Hey, go easy on the poor guys. You have to be at least a bit BAPish to be a serious gun nerd. Our Tam, at least, has learned enough Soshul Skilz to bite off the incipient Aspie Rant before it gets going.

Odysseus said...

I had won the victory over myself. I loved Big Brother.

First time at bat today and you hit it out of the park, I don't know if I'm allowed to call winning the internets on someone else's blog but you get my vote for it.

Anonymous said...

In the days when the old squeezers, etc. were relegated to the bottom shelf with the similar-looking Ivers, H&R's and such, my practice, when a sharpie asked to hold one of the Smifs, was to shut my mouth and politely listen...

Not only did I learn something almost every time, but at the end of their ramble there was always the question of price (I purposely left the oldies unmarked). I'd say I dunno, what's it worth? After having given me a history run-down they couldn't just hem and haw and say shucks, not much; they would usually shoot out a figure that might have seemed low to them, but was usually more than the regulars in my burg would ever pay (pre-gunbroker, don'tcha know).

Some profit, some learnin', and no BS sales pitch that could come back to haunt me if I got something wrong. Win-win-win.

But oh, to now have back some of those boxes full of old iron that I hustled out the door back in the 70's, 80's, and 90's...

AT

Will said...

Generally not a good idea to flaunt too much knowledge to dealers you might want to continue doing business with.
Went to a show with a friend who had decided he wanted a samurai sword. Asked a sword dealer if he could remove the grips from a WWII officer's sword, priced at about $450. Looked promising. Bought it, took it across the hall to the Japanese sword-master for an evaluation. Turned out to be a 400 year old blade, dressed up in the army issue gear that was required for military carry. My friend couldn't resist telling the dealer what he had overlooked. Dealer was pissed at him, and you can be sure he would forever be giving all future blades the eagle eye, so no chance of finding another bargain.

Makes one wonder how many family samurai swords were lost in the fields during WWII.

Justthisguy said...

Yup, Will, that's why the old Chinese jade dealers famously wore dark glasses, so that you coudn't see their pupils dilate when they got interested. I think something like this is also why Bill Gates made out like a bandit playing poker at Harvard; what with his good memory of which cards had been played, his understanding of the odds, and his natural-born autistic poker face, it could not have come out any other way.

McThag said...

"Izzat a Glock or a forty-five?""

It's a Glock 21.

"So, which is it?"

Both.

"What?"

JPG said...

DirtCrshr (2:30 PM) - - -
Please tell us you're tossin' out dummy bait with that, "Both my model 10's are pinned and recessed."
;)

Xavier said...

I felt the earth shift beneath my feet.......

Anonymous said...

Listening to old farts is a kindness - nobody else wants to hear what they say.

For a little while, you let them believe that they were teaching you something. Like they were passing the torch to the next generation.

It isn't necessarily condescending - they just want an audience, and the fact that the audience is a pretty girl is just a nice bonus.

Well done!

Anonymous said...

Why does this strip come to mind when I read the post?
http://www.explosm.net/db/files/comics/rob/condescending.png

Granted, I assume they weren't trying to be condescending, but still...

John B said...

I only learned the fine art of nodding, smilng, and looking interested. Sheesh in the 80's I could set off an airport magnetometer with my irony.

Considering I carried enough stainless steel in my pockets to equal a small automatic, and walked through those things regularly, that's saying something.

just nod and smile, and look interested as they blather.

Kristopher said...

TAM: I admit I am reluctant to experiment, and decided that my Witney really is a collector piece now, and not a shooter. Too bad. I do like shooting old guns.

( I wonder if unloaded-primed RF brass is still available ... )

I do shoot my original finish 1 1/2 however, with handloaded BP rounds.

Justthisguy said...

I am listening to "Voice of the Guns," by Alford, at this very minute. Listen to the guns, Tam, and ignore the humans. The trio of the piece is quite emotionally moving.