One of the local QRPers came around the turn and stopped at the curve at the bottom of the hill. He stared for a moment and then beat his way up to the verandah where we were sitting. It was a warm day, and this rather heavy set QRPer was puffing and sweating. He paced back and forth on the verandah looking a bit nervous as he wiped the sweat from his forehead and his upper lip.
We weren't sure what was going on. Normally, when a QRPer has something on his mind he starts right in. It was clear this one was worried, but he seemed a bit reluctant to talk about it. He finally sat down and leaned over toward us. "What are you going to do about the vote?" he asked slowly. "Who are you going to vote for?"
We were confused, because this particular QRPer had never shown any interest in politics. He also knew that we didn't like to discuss religion or politics. "Well," we began, reluctantly, "we haven't made up our mind yet. Both parties have their good and bad points, and they're campaigning pretty hard. We really aren't that interested in who wins." We sat back in the chair and looked out over the village; confident we'd headed this on off.
"No! No!" the QRPer said, jumping back up and staring right at us. "Not those elections. The Don Miller election. All the Big Guns are talking about it! I don't know who to vote for." He started pacing back and forth and finally stopped and glared at us with his beady little eyes. "This could mean a new one!"
"What are you talking about?" we asked. "Don's been off the air for 25 years or more. What's a Don Miller election? Is he running for office? What has this got to do with DX?" We were more than a bit confused.
The QRPer looked at us in disbelief: "What's it got to do with DX? Where have you been? Don's back! Or maybe he isn't, I'm not sure. Someone on the Internet is posting DX Announcements claiming they are Don Miller and that they are going to activate Maria Theresa Reef! And someone else is holding a vote to see who Don Miller is. Don't you see? We have to elect the right Don so we can work 1M0WNV!"
Son of a Gun! None of this made any sense. "What do you mean we have to elect the right Don? There's only one Don Miller in this world of DX, and he's been inactive for years. How can you elect a new one! Pretty soon you'll be electing another Danny Weil or another Sir Gus! Maria Theresa Reef doesn't exist and the 1M0 prefix is not in use. Have you been feeling OK lately?"
"There's nothing wrong with me, buster!" the QRPer roared back. "I don't want to vote the wrong way and get on Don's blacklist. I heard how it worked years ago. If you made the blacklist, he wouldn't work you. Couldn't hear you even if you were running full legal power and sometimes a lot more. I have to vote the right way, but I don't know how to vote. If I vote for the wrong one, I'll be blacklisted and I know I won't work the new one."
Usually we can understand some part of what a QRPer is saying, but this one was just digging the hole deeper. So we did what we always do when we are faced with such a situation. We hauled the QRPer up the hill to see the Old Timer. He was tuning the low end of 20 meters, listening to a CW pileup and smiling. The QRPer waited for a few minutes, shifting his weight nervously and staring at the Old Timer. Finally he couldn't stand it any more and blurted out, "Who'd you vote for?"
The Old Timer looked back over his shoulder and answered, "Can't tell you. It's a secret ballot. I voted in the advance poll last week. I wanted to be prepared when he comes on the air. And it's a good thing I did. Listen to that roar! He came on 14.025 about an hour ago. Caught him calling CQ and nailed him simplex on the first call. Look at the log. 1M0WNV, 14 MHz, CW, 599/599 10:42Z. It's a zoo now. He's listening from 030-080 and you can't pull out a single call. All the jammers and UP LID types are there too."
"I didn't even vote yet!" wailed the QRPer. "How can I work him now? And if you won't tell me who to vote for, I'll probably pick the wrong one and get on the blacklist! I'll never reach honor roll this way!"
The Old Timer just smiled and said, "We've told you in the past to listen to what Lord Baden Powell said and to 'Be Prepared!' That is one of the fundamental Enigmas of DXing." And with that he turned back to the rig and started tuning 15 meters looking for an insurance contact.
We started back down the hill and the QRPer was beside himself. "I never get any straight answers from him. Or for that matter even from you anymore. You always cloud the issue by telling me I don't know the Mysteries of the Ages or the Eternal Enigmas of Dxing. You say I have to be a believer, but you never tell me what to believe! Because of your double talk, I'm going to miss Maria Theresa Reef and be that much further behind everyone else."
We stopped and took a deep breath. When surrounded by foolishness, the only answer is to join the crowd. "Vote for W9WNV! That's who Don Miller is! Always has been. Accept no substitutes. We're going down to the DX club in a few minutes to cast our vote so we can break the pileup."
The QRPer beamed and stared at us with a look of gratitude that reminded us of Victor Lazzlo's face at the airport when Rick gave the letters of transport to Ilsa and him. Then he was off down the hill to cast his vote. We still didn't know what was going on, but we knew that Maria Theresa Reef wasn't going to count. On the other hand, it wouldn't hurt to listen to the pileup on 20 meters . . . maybe we could slip our call in if we timed it right. DX IS!
73/DX Paul VE1DX (EX: VE1PMD, VE1UK, VE0UK, CJ1UK, etc.)
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