On People, Guns, and Shopping (a semi-encouraging ramble)

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Have you ever wanted to just curl up in a ball and forget everyone else in the world? Maybe move to Wyoming and live in the middle of 10,000 acres with nobody but your favorite dog or mountain lion to keep you company? Perhaps you’ve seriously contemplated becoming a hermit in a cave in the middle of the woods of Arkansas (I’ve heard they have nice woods)? Perhaps that’s not the best idea, but sometimes, I can totally relate. I’m often amazed at how many times I hear people say that they “hate other people” or that (more commonly) “I’m just not a ‘people person.'” I worked in retail for the past year and a half at a firearms and outdoors store, and I saw all sorts of people, and I saw them in all sorts of interesting states.

Selling firearms in North Carolina is a fairly painless process. There’s a decent amount of paperwork to be done, but nothing that a high school graduate should struggle with. The basic requirements and process consist of a driver’s license, background check, and the filling of a federal form known as the 4473; pistols require a permit or license that substitutes for the background check.

Many people come in to the store knowing exactly what they want and how to go about the purchase process. Those people are easy. I generally didn’t mind dealing with them. These sorts of people usually own several firearms and are immensely familiar with shooting sports, defense, or hunting and the related things that are needed. The worst experiences that I had with these shoppers are the ones who were cocky or curt, and they were not a huge problem. I know how to ignore negativity.

Some people come in not knowing anything about firearms. These are the people who have to be talked through various aspects of owning a firearm, the legal intricacies, and how the firearm works. These are the people to whom I usually recommend a class or two. If the person is open to listening, then the process is usually fairly easy. If the person has been ill-informed or thinks that he (yes, it was almost always a guy) knows something when he doesn’t, then we had problems.

  • The “(I don’t really) Know-It-All”
    This guy just can’t wait to tell you all that he knows, and he’s never wrong, even when he plainly is. I’ve had customers argue with me even after I’ve shown them the contradicting text on a package, website, or whatever else. They simply cannot stand the thought of being incorrect. This is especially scary when dealing with an item like a firearm. One of the most cliché but but also most prevalent examples of this was the “oh, well it’s not loaded.” Yes, but if you develop a habit of treating loaded and unloaded firearms differently, then you might one day slip up.
  • The “Just-Tell-Me-What-I-Need-To-Know”
    Some people are simply impatient. I typically have little respect for (rude) impatient people, and I openly dislike impatient people with guns. One of the purposes of a firearms salesman (ew, nasty term, huh?) is to filter through the people who are attempting to purchase a firearm illegally or for illicit purposes. When people were overtly impatient or curt, I then had to probe more and attempt to find out why they were being that way, and my actions often, in turn, made them less happy with me, which made me less happy, and then no one was happy.
  • The “Whoah Buddy You Really Don’t Need A Gun”
    Several different types of people qualified for this category–the most obvious were the people who had no mechanical inclinations and knew nothing about firearms. If someone picked up a pistol, put their finger on the trigger, and then proceeded to point it at me or someone else, I would politely work with them on proper handling and etiquette. I would often dissuade these people from purchasing a firearm until they had the proper training.

The list could go on, but I think you get the general idea; many people were a pain to work with. That’s not the point, though. Many people were a pleasure to deal with. Many people were gracious, considerate, and easy-going. People have the capability to be a positive influence in others’ lives, and I think that most people want to be.

I no longer sell firearms; I quit that job not too long ago. It was an interesting experience, though. I learned a lot about people, retail business, and (of course) guns. So, to the people who want to curl up in a ball, move to Wyoming, and live with several cats or a large-breed dog, I say, give others a chance. People out there do care, and how you approach them often sets the tone for how your interactions will go.

That’s my semi-encouraging ramble for the year.

~ Chris

The Pit and the Pendulum (Audiobook)

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I did a recording of Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal quite a while back. That turned out fairly well, but I wasn’t completely pleased with the voice or recording quality. I’ve since gotten a better microphone, and I worked on the voicing a bit more with this one and went for a more active voice.

Edgar Allan Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum

Feedback? Suggestions? Comments? Insults?

I still haven’t got the voice or recording exactly where I want it. This microphone does a better job of reproducing bass, so my voice isn’t entirely tinny here. I don’t have a soundproof room in which to record, either, so every now and then an ambient sound will work it’s way into the background. I’ll keep working at it though. Taking suggestions for another recording!

~ Chris

My Blog Has Holes in It (How else do I explain all these drafts)

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I’m hoping WordPress will address this issue soon. My blog has some gigantic holes in it. I logged in today to find drafts everywhere. No sooner than I had finished filling in my password, did I feel a stiff breeze coming out of my computer screen. It knocked over several of the items on my desk, and I’ve lost a bunch of papers that simply flew away. This is unacceptable.

I just can’t explain the origin of all these drafts. Every time I start to write another post, another draft pops up, and I can’t seem to get anything published. Quite ridiculous, really.

Just the other day I started to write what I knew would be an absolutely superb piece on the moral dilemma that faces us when we are forced to make hard decisions. I got distracted by something in the other room, and I had to walk away from my blog. Somebody must have poked a hole in my site while I was away because there it was: another draft. Such Drafts

I think this all started way back when I tried to write a post about a rubber ducky. I smelled some pop tarts cooking in the other room, and I simply had to go find the source. My blog just hasn’t been the same since.

Fairie Tales, (trying to be) funny stories, inane antics, and completely ridiculous anecdotes, nothing seems to be able to get to that revered published state… I’ve combed through them all, looking for a way to maybe plug the hole and kill the draft, but nothing seems to work. I’ve tried rubber bands, chewing gum, duct tape, and even a few pots of coffee, but none of them solved my issue. I’m hoping that I can get this resolved soon.

I’m starting to think that this might be a problem with the whole blogging world. I’m certain that it’s not a problem with me. I’ll deny to the bitter end. I mean, I’ve been accused of procrastination before, but this is a structural problem, I’m almost certain of it. Brrr… It’s starting to get kinda cold in here. 

In the mean time, I think I’m going to… wait, someone’s at the door. I’ll finish this later. 

~ XK