A Curmudgeon’s Comeback

I have previously written about ham radio curmudgeons, and have come across a few more grumps here and there since I wrote my original post. This last week, I went camping with my family and took along my 2 meter radio.

Once we established camp and the kids and my wife were picking huckleberries, I turned the knob on my radio and let out a test transmission for a nearby repeater, “This is W7KBX, testing.” A grump responded with his call sign and told me I was full-quieting (meaning my signal was clear). I replied, “Thanks very much for the comeback. I’m from out of town and was wondering about if I could hit this repeater.”

A picture of a grumpAt this point, most hams would ask where I was from, how long I was staying, what brought me to the area, what kind of radio and antenna I was using etc. This curmudgeon grumpily criticized and belittled me, “This isn’t citizen’s band (CB) radio. We don’t “comeback,” that’s CB. In ham radio, it is a response!”

I rolled my eyes. I was about to comeback with, “Oh. I didn’t know that. What section of Part 97 does that rule fall?” I didn’t though. I didn’t want to get drawn into a debate with a bitter grump. I merely said, “I apologize, W7KBX.”

I kind of regret not pressing the issue, but I don’t think it would have done any good to engage this joker. I looked him up on QRZ and also informed a few other hams via email about this guy. We all concluded that this guy is a curmudgeon merely based on his QRZ page.

I am absolutely for order and good practices on the ham bands, but this guy was so curt and knit picky, it went beyond wanting to maintaining decorum.

I can understand why some hams become curmudgeons. After all, they had to study more intensely, know more, and know code to get licensed back in the day. They are proud of their accomplishment in getting their license, and they should be. Comparatively speaking, it is easy to get a tech license today. They hear all the new hams and know that some of them merely memorized the correct answers. That probably makes them mad. They feel that their own ham radio kung fu is superior.

I don’t think that justifies their curmudgeon behavior. An issue they ignore is ham radio was close to dying until the code portion was dropped from the exam and before the current VE system was established. The number of licensees have increased since then.

A curmudgeon would say, “All that means is that there are more yokels and ignoramuses on the ham bands.” Well, there is probably an element of truth to that. But, the more numbers mean the more ham frequency use there is, and that means there is less a chance the FCC will allocate our ham frequencies to corporate interests.

I’m sure that some curmudgeons are just plain elitists, thinking that they have the right and obligation to snap at any noob if they do anything that violates their personal rules.

What does it hurt when a ham refers to an answer or response as a comeback? It’s not as if someone is going to hear “comeback” on the radio waves and think, “What in the hell does that mean? I have no idea what is going on now! Where’s my Gold Bond Powder?! Dang hippies!”

This guy who tried to school me about using “comeback” knew what it meant, but he felt that my word use was too low brow. Using “comeback” would do nothing to cause disorder on the ham bands.

I really think that curmudgeons do more harm to the hobby than noobies who make a few mistakes now and then. Grumps drive away rag-chewing, they drive away testing new radios, they drive away new shy hams who have mic fright, they drive away interest.

It could be argued that curmudgeons violate Part 97 when their curmudgeon behavior spreads on DX QSO’s. Part 97 states that one of the purposes of the amateur radio art is:

Continuation and extension of the amateur’s unique ability to enhance international goodwill.

Some curmudgeons seem to have no goodwill at all.

I didn’t let this guy ruin my day, or change my opinion about ham radio. I didn’t go cry into my pillow and vow to never turn on my radio again. If my young daughter, who is a newly licensed ham, had been on the receiving end of his belittlement, she would have been hurt, and it would take a lot of prying to get her interested in talking on the radio again. I know that some curmudgeons have done this to some hams. And sometimes curmudgeons just plain harass hams who they think are repeat offenders of rules that aren’t really rules.

So, did I do the right thing by ending the contact with this curmudgeon, or should I have engaged him in a debate? What is the best way to handle a bitter grump on the ham frequencies?

About Kyle (W7KBX)

I became a licensed ham in May of 2013 with a class of General. I have since upgraded to Extra. If you are really bored and want to learn more about me, please click here
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4 Responses to A Curmudgeon’s Comeback

  1. Steve Clements says:

    It’s “nit pick,” not “knit pick.” Spell it right!!

    Hi Kyle. I bumped into you a year ago when you brought Hanna for testing for her Technician. I hear you all the time on ERC net on Tuesdays. I appreciate when you relay and take over as control when needed.

    I’ll keep you in mind if I come across any deals on an HF rig. Of course, it would mean a BFA (big fat antenna) too. Then there’s the tuner, power supply, battery backup – it never ends.

    • Kyle (W7KBX) says:


      I was wondering if anyone would catch my nit pick typo joke.

      I currently have access to an HF radio, on loan from the radio club in which I belong. An old 440S along with a manual Super Tuner. Nothing fancy, but with my G5RV I installed up in the air outside, I can make some pretty decent DX contacts. I can tune just about every band, except 15M.

      I’m saving up to get my own tuner and radio though. I have my eye on the TS-590SG. Not exactly cheap, but it will likely be a radio that will last a very, very long time.

      I don’t mind buying used, and may go that route, but I’m a lot like my dad, and usually prefer to buy new. We’ll have to see how I feel in a few more months when I will hopefully have some foldin’ money saved up.

      • Steven Clements says:

        Just today at work, Ron Blessinger KG7HMT said he’s settled on that exact model also. Mine is a Yaesu FT-450D with a 102′ G5RV, had it about a year. Phone only. Dennis Stewart has this same model and we both like it. $940 retail.

  2. Ron Blessinger says:

    Nice choice in radios….on both counts. The 440s was, in its day, what the 590 is today. my 440s/at is a sweetheart, but like you, I’m considering the 590… as usual, it’s the dollars.
    curmudgeons…it’s hard not to engage, but best not to. Nothing will change except your blood pressure.
    I was listening when you were setting up your HF station…excited for you. I have a similar setup with the g5rv and a homebrew 10 meter vertical dipole on my fence.
    let Steve know when you get the 590 and we will come over and help keep the top of the radio clean….. drool happens.
    take care.

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