What a Difference a Day Makes!

    A couple of the local QRPers were by the other day. We were sitting on the front porch waiting for Sunspot Louie to go down to the DX Club meeting with us. By the time we saw the QRPers, it was too late to hide. We decided to see what was up. This was a strange combination. One of the QRPers was hippity-hopping up the hill with joy in his stride and a smile in his face. The other was beating his way up the hill with a scowl on his face. "What's new in this world of DX?", we asked, hoping we'd get at least one happy answer. "Got a new one confirmed!", the hippity-hopping QRPer blurted out, "Antarctica! And on 75-metres too. It's not often I get a brand new one on the low bands!" We had to agree this was a nice catch, especially on that band. No one could argue with that.

    The other QRPer just sat there and glared at us. "Look at this!", he shouted after about a minute, shoving a QSL card in our hand. We looked at it carefully. We were starting to get the idea of what was happening here. Then the happy QRPer handed us his QSL and said "Look at mine too", he said slowly, glancing over at his fellow QRPer, "don't you think they are both nice QSLs, with the color picture and all." We were in up to our knees now and there was no turning back, so we tried pleading innocence. "Yes, both are nice looking cards. It's not often two of you land the same station on the same band within a few days." We were looking for a quick way out of this! "Not so fast, Buster!", the scowling QRPer said in a rather loud voice, "Not so fast at all! Explain to me why my QSL doesn't count and his does? Why? What is wrong with the DXCC desk?" We looked the cards over carefully, buying time and hoping that Louie would show up and haul us off to the club meeting! "They both look the same to us", we replied carefully, "your calls are correct, and you even got the same signal reports, 5 and 5. They came from the same station and were confirmed by the same manager. Who says one will count and the other won't?"

    This was not the question we should have asked! The scowling QRPer grabbed his card, stomped back and forth on the porch and finally blurted out, "The ARRL, that's who! Look at the date on my QSL! It's August 25th . . . his is August 21st! The league says that his counts and mine doesn't. I'll never understand how the DXCC desk works!", he shouted. "You belong to that outfit! Tell me why they made such a stupid decision! This isn't fair, not fair at all." He slumped down in his chair, exhausted. It was clear that this QRPer had been up all night, worrying and fuming over his lost QSO. What could we say? We looked over at the other QRPer and put a stop to his grin with a look that needed no words. These were trying times in this world of DX, and for the scowling QRPer even more so. The Amateur's code dictated we ought not do anything to lessen the enjoyment of others. We were silent for a few moments, then decided these QRPers were in need of Enlightenment. So we hauled the both of them up the hill to discuss the situation with the Old Timer.

    Usually, the whole story has to be repeated, complete with arm waving and pacing. This time, however, the QRPers just handed their QSLs to the Old Timer. No explanation of the problem was necessary. He looked at them for a second, then replied, "This is simply a case of the league implementing the August 23rd rule. It was in the original DXCC criteria back in 1945 and somehow got lost in recent printings. But it was there, always has been and always will be. And it was put there for good reason, too, although those who are not Enlightened sometimes do not understand its importance. It states: 'Should any DX operation span the date of August 23rd, with that date falling on a Thursday, and the year being a leap year, the DX station must change QSL managers on that date.' Now, since the same manager is on both cards, one dated August 21st and the other August 25th, this clearly falls under the jurisdiction of the August 23rd rule. All the other criteria are met. Every true blue DXer knows this. If you are going to play the DXCC game, you have to understand the rules!" We nodded in agreement, for the Old Timer was right again. He always had the answers. Always.

    Son of a Gun! We had never seen a look like the one on the face of the QRPer with the August 25th QSL! It was somewhere between fear, anger and hopelessness. "August 23rd 1996, a day that will live in infamy!" he screeched as he tore his QSL card to shreds and stormed down the hill, vowing never to DX again! The other QRPer glanced at us for a moment, then ran off after his friend, trying to convince him not to sell all his gear.

    We looked at the Old Timer for a minute and then said, "Guess it was a good thing we stayed up the night of the 15th and worked that guy on 160." "Yeah", the Old Timer replied, "good thing. You never know when one of these lesser known rules will kick in." We got up and headed for the door, then turned and asked, "Wasn't that day that will live in infamy December 7th 1941?" The Old Timer thought for a moment and shrugged, "I thought so . . . but maybe the ARRL changed it to August 23rd 1996." "Likely so", we replied as we walked out the door and back down the hill. Never under-estimate the power or wisdom of the DXCC desk. They are always right. Absolutely! It's one of the Eternal Enigmas of DXing. DX IS!

This story is in the public domain and may be reproduced in any format. - VE1DX

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Last updated 14 December 2020