Me, Myself, and the Voices in My Head

A place to ramble and maybe make some sense about a thing or two.

Archive for the tag “rude person”

Spring Gun Show: Day One

I’m surprised.  I’m very surprised.  I’m actually on the verge of being stunned.  Today, I didn’t have to yell at anyone in disgust during the gun show.  And that’s a first for me in a long time!

I don’t consider myself a rude person.  I try to be friendly and cordial with everyone I meet, especially if they’re a customer, until they give me a reason not to be.  Then, depending on the amount of stupidity or rudeness received, all bets are off.  My business is there to make money, not to please the entire world.  I’ve spent years of my life studying and researching information so that I am as close to being an expert as I can be with regards to the items I sell.  And since 99% of all of the items are either from the Vietnam War era or earlier (I deal in military surplus, in case you forgot or are new to my writings), a lot of my information has to come from hands-on experience with the items, talking to veterans who owned or were issued the items, and doing a LOT of reading so that I’ll know the little details.  Not every helmet is the same.  Not every weapon is the same.  And just because you watched Band of Brothers or Saving Private Ryan doesn’t make you an expert on WWII militaria!  You might own the entire DVD set of every Tour of Duty season or you have every M*A*S*H and After M*A*S*H episode memorized, but that doesn’t make you an expert on the Vietnam or Korean Wars!

The worst thing to do is to come up to my table (which I have spent a fair amount of money to rent so that I can sell my items) after I’ve traveled a long distance to be at the show (sometimes I’m lucky and the shows are actually at a center across the street from my house!) and made sure that I’ve brought a wide variety of items (because one of the biggest complaints at shows is that “there’s nothing worth buying”) and trying to inform me that the polyester-blend jacket you’re holding was passed-down three generations from your relative that served in the American Revolution and because you’ve seen the latest documentary on History Channel that has one “just like it” that I must purchase it from you for an ungodly amount of money.  Or, you bring an item to me and tell me how you watched a television show where someone had one exactly like it except for the color, size, and rust on it and that you demand that I pay the appraised amount from the show.  I’ll make this simple — do either of those things, and the answer is going to be, “Not gonna happen in this lifetime, buddy!”

Another one of the top items to not do is to bring your item to my table, stand in front of me and give me a very, very long, very, very detailed “history” of the item and how you came to own it and then ask me what it’s worth.  It’s even worse when you start your diatribe with, “Do you know what this is?” not in a manner of “Can you help me?” but with the attitude of “I’m going to teach you something.”  What’s most irritating is when I’ve answered your question that I do or don’t know what the item is and ask if you want to sell the item to me and you respond with a resounding “Of course not!” or “Depends on what you tell me it’s worth!  Why should I give you an appraisal for free?  You don’t get other items appraised for free.  Why should I utilize the many years research and knowledge that I have to tell you something that (1) you think you already knew or (2) had no clue about and not get anything out of it?  I don’t work for Antiques Roadshow so my appraisals aren’t free!

Also, when I give a “value” on an item, it’s going to be one of three things — (1) the current market value of the item based on others I’ve seen sell at retail or auction, (2) an estimated insurance value if it’s something that I’ve already been informed is going to stay within the family (and my appraisal fee is paid), or (3) what I think it’s worth to me or what I’m willing to pay because I am going to resell it and need to be able to make a profit.  I’m not buying your memories or appraising your family’s history — I’m in this game to make money and just because you saw someone else told that their item is worth $30,000 doesn’t mean that your’s is as well!  Not every World War II uniform was worn by Eisenhower or Patton and not every German pistol was carried by Goering or Hitler.  And trust me on this, there are a LOT of faked items out there!  Collectors and reenactors have demanded reproduction items and manufacturers have been more than happy to provide them, especially if they’re Nazi items!  They first started reproducing the uniforms but used actual WWII-era materials and thread which made detecting a fake almost impossible.  Then they reproduced weapons with old parts found in defunct factories.  The parts are “original” but the build of the weapon didn’t happen until the 1980s — so saying it’s “real” is kind of hard to do.  Now, there are companies that not only fake the medals (and not just the high honor ones but even the ones that EVERYONE got) but they even fake the presentation boxes the things came in from the 1940s!!  It’s getting so you can’t trust anything as “authentic” anymore!

Oh, and when I said “real” above, that word drives me insane.  People come up to me when I’m wearing my WWII-era authentic uniform and ask, “Is that real?”  I tell them, “Why, yes, it is — in the sense that it takes up time and space.”  That usually baffles them for a few moments until they decide to ask, “Is it really your uniform?”  I reply, “Yes, it is mine because I bought and paid for it myself and am the only person who wears it.”  Again, I’ll get some blank stares because they’re not sure of what to say.  What they should have asked is, “Is that an authentic WWII uniform?” or “Is that uniform original to the WWII-era?” or “Was that uniform made during WWII and possibly used by a soldier then?”  Then I could answer them whether or not my uniform is “authentic,” “genuine” or “vintage.”  “Real” is a word that has way too many meanings.  And asking if it is “mine” implies that I am the person who wore the uniform during World War II and earned the medals pinned to the dress jacket and actually obtained the rank worn from the United States Government.  I may be starting to look older, but I’m not THAT old yet!!

So today wasn’t filled with as many questions or issues like those.  It was nice to have intelligent and humorous conversations with prospective customers.  And when some would ask me for my “expert” opinion or for clarification with regards to an item or type of items I’ve spent a lot of time researching, I was happy to oblige.  True, there were a number of people who tapped on the helmets to make sure they were really made out of metal and others who tried to “inform” us that we couldn’t own or sell our wares because “it’s illegal to own government property” even though the items are edging 70 years old and no one in the government has been searching for them (especially since they discontinued them and threw away what was left-over ages ago).

Hopefully tomorrow will go well.  And if not, at least I’m still on my painkillers from yesterday and they help mellow me out for short periods of time.


A public service “rant” sponsored by me

So, what is the best way to say, “I don’t really give a rat’s ass” while being polite?

I don’t like to think that I’m a rude person.  Okay, yes, I can be snippy at times.  But who isn’t?  For example, I’m walking through a store with my service dog, Celeste, who is quite large and wears her vest and packs that state clearly, “DO NOT PET.”  I see a small child, perhaps 2 or 3 years old, running and then they’ve draped themselves over her squealing “Doggie!” with endless delight.  The parent peels their child off and apologizes profusely and I tell them that I understand that the child is too young to understand and that it’s okay and thank them for removing their child so Celeste can continue working.  Later, an adult (you can choose the age if you like — I’ve had everything from freshly-minted 18-year-olds to senior citizens) will do what I call a “drive-by petting.”  They come up behind me, begin to pet Celeste, and then walk around and try to get her to play with them.  Obviously this person has a grasp of the English language because I can understand what they’re saying even if they sound like they’re babbling to a baby while saying it.  They’ve obviously decided that the “DO NOT PET” badges do not apply to them.  And Celeste, by now, is leaning hard against me to be sure that my attention is drawn to the person she’d love to get away from because they’re touching her.

At this point, I usually say in a stern voice, “Do NOT pet my service dog!  She is working and you are putting us in danger.”  Many times, the adult will then ask if it’s okay to pet her.  I’m sure the expression that crosses my face isn’t pleasant, but I often end up stammering, “If I just said you couldn’t pet her, why on earth would you ask me now if you can?”  Or, if the adult isn’t the offender but a child under that adult’s care who is certainly educated enough to read the three small words in large, bold, reflective type on her patches, I will usually say “Do NOT pet my dog” to the child and “Please remove your child” to the adult.  After which, in either scenario, I’m usually the target of their fleeting comment, “Well, you don’t have to be so rude about it!”  Occasionally the addition of a colorful metaphor that would make this posting rated over PG-13 is added to the statement, but we’ll leave that out for now.

I don’t believe I’m being rude.  First of all, who in their right mind allows themselves or their child to wander up to an 85-pound dog they don’t know and start petting it?  We’re not a display and it certainly does NOT say anywhere “PET ME NOW.”  And secondly, when I point out that their distraction of my service dog can place me in danger because she might not be able to alert me as she’s been trained to do, what business is it of theirs to start grilling me with “What does she do?” or “What disability do you have?”  Now who’s the rude person?

I understand that most people only think of service animals in the sense of guide dogs for the blind or assistance dogs for those who use wheelchairs.  People don’t understand invisible disabilities and they don’t know that dogs are trained to help mitigate symptoms and alert for possible emergencies.  It always makes me laugh when someone sees me with Celeste and tries to say something without me hearing it and I look directly at them.  They just completely freak-out because they think I’m blind and have now embarrassed themselves.

But just because you think my dog is beautiful or you’re really fascinated by the fact that a service dog is walking around the local grocery store does not mean I really want to stand and listen to you babble on about every dog you’ve ever owned while my ice cream is melting.  And I certainly don’t want to hear you say how lucky I am that I get to take my pet with me everywhere I go.  She’s not a pet!  She’s classified with the IRS as durable medical equipment and I can deduct her and her costs from my taxes!

Oh, and lucky?  People think I’m lucky having her with me?  True, I feel VERY fortunate to have her with me because she helps to mitigate the disabilities I have and I am much more functional than I was before I had her or any other service dog I’ve owned.  But as far as being “lucky” because she can go anywhere with me — that’s absolutely not it.  It’s not that she can go everywhere with me; it’s that she HAS to go everywhere with me.  There are no more quick trips to the store to run-in-and-out while picking up something needed on the way home.  I can’t even use the restroom without her being in the same stall, staring at me as if I’d just have used the tree I told her to use not 10 minutes before we wouldn’t be in this crowded, smelly place.  She is a walking advertisement that I have a disability.  No longer can I hide what ails me and pretend to be “normal” like everyone else.  And for an agoraphobic person who really hates drawing attention to things like that, it’s not easy.

Yes, I hear some of you saying, “But you love attention!  You’ve always loved attention from others!”  There’s the kind I seek which makes me and the other person happy and the kind that causes panic attacks because I don’t want it and can’t deal with it.

So imagine you were given a large sign to wear around your neck that states any ailment or disability you have.  If you wear glasses, you have a visual disability but people don’t point and stare because glasses are considered socially acceptable and not at all unusual.  If you have hearing aids, people may see them but other than screeching at you as if they don’t work (which irritates me when I see people do that), people accept them and go on about their business.  But now you have an invisible disability — autism, dyslexia, MS, etc. — that people can’t pick out from across the room.  Or maybe you have odd habits or quirks that others might consider strange.  Or perhaps you have a phobia or two that can cause everyday activities to become excruciating tasks — and you now have to wear a sign saying what it is (or what they, if you’re blessed with more than one, are).  And you have to wear it everywhere, even to the restroom.

Or the sign doesn’t specifically say what the disability is, just that you have one or more.  Would you enjoy it?  Would you feel “lucky” to have that?  Do you think you’d enjoy others asking questions to try and find out what your sign represents?  Would you like everyone to tell you about how they have or know someone who has it while you’re trying just to get through the day or try to treat you as if you’re incapable of doing anything for yourself anymore?  And, by the way, you also have to carry supplies for your sign to make sure that it’s well taken care of and doesn’t disturb other patrons of wherever you are.

I’m sure there will be plenty of other posts in the coming days/weeks/months that will ask and answer these questions.  But for now, as a favor to me, please take a moment to learn a bit about service animals.  And pass this article to your friends and family if you like.  Because more and more people are now being able to be helped with service dogs — soldiers returning from combat with PTSD, autistic children in schools, hearing impaired, and those needing diabetes or seizure alerts — there will be an increase in their visibility in the general public.  I personally don’t want others to have to go through what I’ve experienced.  I want them to be able to have their service animal and feel they’re still a part of “normal” society instead of something at which to be stared.

Well, at least as “normal” as you can be when you have to carry a bag of poo with you until you find an outdoor trash can.

Post Navigation