The Gun Collector

When I was in college, back in the ’80s, I did TV repair to pay my way through school. This is the story of one service call that didn’t go well.

I knew that it wasn’t going to be a pleasant experience when the customer told me that the set had to be fixed before the game that night. Sure, it might be, but if the problem was what it sounded like, we’d have to order parts -if it was decided that this old TV was worth it.

Soon I had the set apart and had confirmed that it needed a new flyback transformer. I knew I didn’t have one in the truck, I doubted that I had one at the shop, and I was sure that I would junk this old set before putting that much into it.

I climbed out from behind the set and found myself looking down the barrel of a very old pistol. The owner of the TV had it aimed right at my face. He pulled the trigger. Click. It was not loaded. He started laughing about how he had scared me.

Then he loaded it and aimed it at me again. He then lowered it and started laughing, and unloaded it, while asking about the TV. I was pretty careful about what I said. He started rambling about the honesty of TV service technicians and what how he thought a TV service call should go, all the while loading and unloading the gun, playing with it, dry firing it, and telling me how it was his grandfather’s.

I was thinking pretty fast, and made up a story about how simple the problem was, and I’d just run out to the truck and get the part. My plan was to hop in and drive off, leaving the tools behind. It seemed a good plan, and it worked perfectly.

I drove back to the shop and was telling my co-workers about it, when my boss walked in. He heard part of the story, and would not listen to the rest. He made the assumption (I had not worked at that shop very long) that I was some gun-hating liberal (true on the liberal, not on the gun-hating), and that I had gotten scared at the very sight of a gun. In reality, I had several at the time. I just hate having them pointed at me…

In any case, he would not listen, and went on to complete the service call. He said that we’d have a real discussion when he got back.

When he had not come back in a reasonable time, we called the police. They did not take this too seriously. Somehow when it was mentioned that he had not come back to the shop or gone home in time for dinner, they latched on to the possibility that it was a domestic dispute! They just did not get it. His wife called to try to convince them that he was not avoiding her, but that he might be in trouble. They told her to wait twenty-four hours and file a missing person’s report. You see that 24 hour thing a lot on TV, but I have since learned that they are supposed to take the report and start investigating immediately.

Well, the night passed, and no word. The next morning at work the service van was still gone, his car was still where he had parked it the day before, and his wife was frantic. Then he drove up in the service van. He got out. He looked awful. Quite disheveled, obviously no sleep.

He asked me to order replacement tools, and went home with his wife. He would not talk about what happened, and has kept his silence for about 30 years now. (I actually haven’t heard about him for about 10 years or so)

This is a slightly edited version of a story I posted on my web site around 10 years ago.

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