One of the Local QRPers came by the other day, carrying a large envelope and a heavy burden. "What have you got in the envelope?", we asked. "My DXCC certificate", the QRPer replied sadly, "with all my endorsement stickers up to 175. Got it a few days ago from the league." We were at a loss to understand the forlorn look on the QRPer's face, for he had been one of the more enthusiastic operators during the past few years. "What's wrong?", we asked, "Haven't you been looking forward to the day when you'd hit the DXCC mark? And didn't you hold off sending in your cards till you had almost 200? That's pretty impressive."
The QRPer sat down and stared at us wearily. "That's what I thought. I spent a lot of time working these stations, and a lot more time chasing down the QSLs. I thought I'd achieved something . . . until I took this down to the local DX club last night. Now I don't know what to think." We were not understanding at all here. "What happened?", we asked. The QRPer was sweating a bit so we got him a glass of water before he replied. "Well, all of the Big Guns took one look at my certificate and said it wasn't worth the paper it was printed on. The said that none of the DXCC certificates being issued these days were worth even sending for. What do you think of that?"
We had to know more, for these sort of statements were not in keeping with the amateur's code. "Why did they say that?", we asked. "They said I'd worked most of my DX from information I got off the packet cluster!", the QRPer said, jumping to his feet and downing his water in one gulp. "They said I was spoon feed the DX, that I didn't earn it by tuning around. They said that when they got their DXCC, they didn't have packet clusters. The did it the hard way and that I wasn't a real DXer at all!" He sat back down, seemingly having exhausted all his energy in this short outburst. We were properly sympathetic, for we had heard this sort of argument before. "Look at it this way", we replied, "You worked the DX using the resources you had available. You may have had help from the packet cluster spots, but you broke the pileups and worked the DX just the same. Take your DXCC certificate and put it up in your shack! Your worked for it and you deserved it. Don't listen to those guys." The QRPer was not to be consoled. "But why do they have to belittle my achievements?", he asked, "Why do they say my DX is worth less than theirs?"
We were out of our league on this one. Although we'd heard some of the Big Guns put down packet clusters, we'd never thought about putting a value on DX or a worth on another's DXCC certificate. So, we decided to take the QRPer up to the hill to see the Old Timer. The QRPer repeated the events of the past few days as the Old Timer listened intently. "These guys who were putting down your DX achievements", the Old Timer asked, "would they be Joe and Rich, the guys who established the 2-meter DX spotting repeater about 10 or 15 years ago? And was Peter from down south of Palos Verdes involved too . . . the same Peter who set up the list of phone numbers among the DXers a few years before that? And didn't these guys work pretty much everything that moved with their 2-metre and landline network?"
"Yes", the QRPer replied, "those were the guys. Joe, Rich and Peter . . . but they didn't tell me about any repeaters or phone lists." The Old Timer smiled for a moment, stood the QRPer up and said, "They never do. Stand tall, my son! You are a DXer! Take your certificate home and put it on the wall above your rig. Remember what Albert said: All things are relative, some more so. And never forget, there are none so pure as the reformed. DX IS! It always will be. It was twenty years ago for those guys and it is for you today!" The QRPer clutched his certificate, beamed with pride and was off down the hill to get a frame to hang it in the shack.
We looked at the Old Timer for a few minutes, then remarked "You sure made his day. And it's reassuring to know that DX is one of the constants of the universe, never changing in value . . . that all our DX achievements are equal." The Old Timer turned around and glared at us with a look we'd rarely seen before. "Listen Buster!", he shouted at us, "real DXing died when SSB and synthesized rigs hit the market! I earned my DXCC back when we used crystal controlled CW rigs and phone QSOs were AM! Those were the Great Days of DXing. There hasn't been a credible DXCC certificate issued since the league accepted the first QSL that had SSB written on it!" And with that, the Old Timer turned back to his rig, dialled up 75 metres and checked into the SPAM net!
Son of a Gun! What could we say? The Old Timer liked to quote Albert when he said all things were relative, but somehow he had found an exception to the rule! We decided to go back to our shack and check our QSLs . . . we recalled a dozen or so AM QSOs in our early days. Maybe we had less than 90 to go to get a real DXCC certificate! There are always some of the Eternal Enigmas and Mysteries of the Ages that even the most experienced DXers have trouble understanding!
Best Regards, Paul
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