The Unfortunate Ones
From the 1969 ARRL "The Radio Amateur's Operating Manual"
(Adapted from QST for May 1960)
The man to feel sorry for in amateur radio is the non-DXer. There is
nothing that will bring a clutch to the throat or dew to the eye as
quickly as to see him quietly rag-chewing on 80 meters on a cold, clear
winter's night, or relaxing in front of the TV during the DX contest.
Hamming is ashes to him. There's nothing but more time for experimenting,
more money to spend on fishing and a lot less north and south paths to
The poor non-DXers go along on the air, discussing gardening with a ham
in the next state, handling traffic and liking ham radio. It's a pretty
Every ham should chase DX. The real fulfillment comes as his DX stature
grows like a little acorn and he becomes a full-fledged nut. Oh! the
wonder of watching your tri-band beam, $100 rotator and the bulk of your
80-foot tower create a graceful arc as it settles through your living room
roof during a windstorm; that feeling of "togetherness" as you and your
wife are at opposite ends of a 300-foot length of No. 10 Copper-weld
you're uncoiling for your new V-beam and she lets go; the ecstasy as she
extricates you from the wire by cutting its entire length into three-foot
chunks with lineman's pliers.
Ah! The unique feeling of reward which comes as you spend two hours
and 34 minutes stalking a VS9, only to lose him to "old buddy" who moves
him to a local phone band for a long rag chew!
Oh, the bliss, when that DXpedition finally comes back to you just as
your son turns on the electric drill in the basement! What non-DXer ever
shared such stark drama? Aren't you a better ham for having lived so
richly, so fully, and for acquiring that peptic ulcer?
The non-DXer lives in an electronic vacuum. There is a wearisome
emptiness to hamming without DX - and the non-DXer is too tranquil and
unruffled to know it. You only have to look at him to see what the
years have done. He looks youthful, unlined, rested. He has an easy
laugh and a faultless digestion. It isn't natural. If he only knew
the delights of chasing DX, he would look like the rest of us - tired
and sagging, grey, deeply lined and haggard - in other words - NORMAL!
-Paul Amis, W7RGL