3H Quarry in my Sights

July 19, 2007

I decided to return to sporting goods store #1, try not to be overcome with dizziness again, and purchase one of the air rifles from them. I entered the store late on Friday night. The store was fairly quiet and empty, but eventually I located N, one of the young men who had attempted to help me several days earlier.

We zeroed in on air rifle #1 (on sale for about $100 off the regular price) and air rifle #2 (which had a scope and fired special pellets that go about 200 feet per second faster than rifle #1’s pellets).

N thought the sale price was no longer in effect. I suspected it was. My (quiet) conclusion was that the sales people at the store had about 60 zillion different items to keep track of, from rocket-propelled grenades to running shoes for four-year-old marathoners and were not always completely on top of each particular item on sale at any given time. As a canny shopper, I realized it was up to me to bully the sales people into believing an item I wanted was on sale. Given that I had little idea what item I wanted, I felt that we were now on an almost even level as we splashed around in the massive wading pool that represents modern consumer life.

Having looked at the store’s web page, I had observed rifle #1 displayed with a scope. I pointed this out to N who was contemplating a model of rifle #1 on a rack with no scope.

A young man of enterprise and initiative, he ripped open an unopened box. Lo and behold, there was indeed a scope. N exclaimed in surprise.

“How could this be?” I asked.

N replied, “Whoever put up the display model was too lazy to attach the scope,” he said. This struck me as so likely to be true; I could only beam in appreciation of his candor.

I then concluded, thinking out loud, “In the unlikely event I actually manage to hit a rabbit, it probably will not care about 200 fps. These are not Rambo rabbits that escape unscathed through a fusillade of projectiles. Also [putting on my savvy consumer expression] anything that is slightly different from the most standard model is less likely to work properly.”

[The flaw in my brilliant analysis is that no consumer product—special or standard—is likely to work properly. But one must do the best one can in dire situations.]

He then ran the rifle’s code through the cash register to see if it was still on sale. The cash register, without any bullying on my part, reported the rifle still on sale. I love obedient cash registers.

N then foolishly [too young to know better, obviously] asked if I would like him to attach the scope to the rifle before I left the store. If there is one thing I have learned in 63 years, it is: if a person with more mechanical adeptness than I [which includes most of the population of the known world] offers to do a mechanical task for me, I smile and say, “Yes.”

He then spent quite a bit of time attaching the scope. Although I could tell by the careful and methodical way he performed the task that he knew what he was doing, I could also tell it was a task involving quite a bit of patient competence.

As he worked, we chatted a bit. He mentioned something about going to college while he worked at the store. Gradually his life story emerged. N had been born and raised on a farm in Wisconsin. (I explained that I had lived in Wisconsin for a couple of years when I was in high school, so we had found a slight area of common ground.) He had grown up on a farm, hunting and fishing and living the down-home life of middle-America roots that might have turned me into a normal person..

I asked N what had brought him to the Pacific Northwest. He explained that his father had lost his job in the industrially depressed Midwest and moved to another job on the West coast. N accompanied his dad and enrolled in a junior college. He was planning to transfer to the university fairly soon.

“What are you studying?” I asked.

“I’ve always liked English,” he answered. “I like to write. I think I would like to be a writer.”

As an English major myself, I was charmed. This scion of country life and master of mechanical skills I lack is a budding creative writer, perhaps another Hemingway.

He finished attaching the scope. I thanked him, collected a can of pellets for ammunition, discreetly placed the weapon in the trunk of my car, and headed for home.

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One Response to “3H Quarry in my Sights”


  1. […] With trepidation, I examined it closely to see if I had broken the sight (which a helpful employee h… […]


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