Having written a number of books over the past 15 years some people mistakenly assume that I am an expert. Worse, they assume that I am a free centre of advice and appraisal. They have no qualms about phoning me at any time of the day or night to speak at length about their latest acquisition or a piece that they are thinking of buying and for which they expect my guidance, item unseen. Others believe that they can e-mail questions and pictures with absolutely no introduction with the expectation that I will provide background, identification and value.
Trying to be a nice guy I respond and, no word of a lie, only one in ten has the courtesy to thank me! Some have even berated me because my identification or appraisal is not in line with their perceptions or expectations.
I don't mind seeing or hearing about these items but I feel that a little bit of courtesy is not too much to ask. This includes not asking me to call you back long-distance when you leave a cryptic message on my voice-mail or requests for an immediate answer to your e-mail. I do not share your sense of urgency!
Even worse are the guys who 'saw' a picture in one of my books at a friend's house. If he's your friend then borrow the damned thing and read it first. If you haven't done that - and you certainly haven't BOUGHT the book or gone to your local library and asked them to buy it - then don't expect me to subsidize your hobby if you are not prepared to invest in the knowledge.
At the end of all this - how about a simple 'please' and 'thank you'?
I could not have said it better Clive! 'Please' and 'Thank you' seem to be something of the past, which is seldom used anymore. I rarely even respond to requests anymore (except for those from the inner circle, of like minded individuals, such as myself), I guess I've been burned once too often and have grown tired of spending hours/days of doing research before responding only to receive absolutely nothing in the form of a reply, whether it is 'thank you' or 'kiss-my-ass' . . . or whatever . . .
Clive, I had no idea that this kind of thing plagues you and other 'experts' (which I do consider you to be). I appreciate the time you spent with me browsing through my meager collection the last time you were in Calgary, and for sending the scans of 10RG original photos in your collection. In my mind, guys like you and Bill Alexander and others are at the pinnacle of knowledge of topics that are pertinent to me. I can only hope my momma taught me well enough to use my 'pleases' and 'thank-yous', and to respect your space (and time). If you catch me being anything but the perfect gentlemen, you have my permission (and that of my momma) to smack me down.
Clive, I know I have asked you questions by email..and I think I do Thank you..and I do buy some of your books..so I hope I am not one of those....with that said....
I am an "Advisor" on a couple of forums for those that "relic" hunt..out of the UK..as I am one of the few that can ID Military bits..I am asked many questions....I find the same thing.....less than half the time I get a Thank you...or even a message to let me know they read my reply.
Kinda pisses me off sometimes...the other advisors feel the same way..so we remind members of those forums from time to time.
Clive, you are one of the tolerant people I know so to see a rant post started by you was surprising to see. I dont mind telephone calls or e-mails to see how I am doing, I rarely get those from Canada, only from the people I know overseas. I used to get messages and calls from within Canada looking for advice, but since I stopped years ago giving out free appraisals and identifications those calls have all but dried up. Thank you or e-mail acknowledgments seem to be few and far between in an industry dominated by what it is and how much is it worth.
Thankfully there are selected people who are available for informed discussions and comment on various topics and it is those selfless individuals who I enjoy corresponding and talking with.
My comments were not aimed at regular posters to this forum. I find the 'regulars' to be a community and I welcome any opportunity to share my knowledge, archives or photos with them. I posted here as I felt comfortable in doing so in front of friends and colleagues - some of whom feel the same frustration.
Ironically, most of these requests come from people that I don't know but who have managed to find me through my books and the internet. This, in fact, makes it more frustrating when I get a request out of the blue with nary so much as an introduction from the requestor.
Dan - I greatly appreciated your hospitality in Calgary. You went above and beyond in picking me up at the museum and driving me to the airport. Having the opportunity to see your wonderful collection meant a lot to me and I hope that the photos I sent you will be of some use.
Dean - Please continue to send me your finds and ask questions. Again, you are part of the community and I have no issues.
Mark - I agree and all I can say is "Grrrrr!"
Ed - I may take your advice and just start ignoring the requests. My e-mail program has an option that allows me to bounce messages back with an advisory that the e-mail address is not valid.
I take a slightly different attitude, though my experiences are in many cases the same.
I get a lot of email through the site; I try and help as best I can. I have to be honest and say I don't really have an interest in genealogy, and there are quite a number of those types of questions. One or two "lost trails" type of questions also. I'm sympathetic, but ultimately powerless to assist in these kinds of quests. If I can point someone in the right direction with general information ("the Black Watch never fought in the Pacific, but be aware, the British Army also had a Black Watch - you may wish to contact the Royal Regiment of Scotland...") I'm happy to do so.
I agree with the comments about the scarcity of 'please' and 'thank you' but I am sure my own manners have not been Emily Post in all my exchanges so I try not to hold others to a higher standard than I would hold myself.
I think ultimately the reason we do all this research to begin with, or should be, is for the glory of those that served and sacrificed, not our own personal gain or fortune. To that end, it becomes unseemly to complain that we have not received enough recompense, even if just simple acknowledgement, since to my mind what matters most is that those who wore the uniforms, carried the equipment, and made the world better should be remembered. Not just remembered as names on walls, but remembered and understood, with accuracy and detail. Collectively, the historians, researchers, veterans, family members, uniform collectors, re-enactors, film-makers, scale-modellers, wargame designers, and others in the military community who visit the network of websites like this one attempt to do just that. While much of the work is done out of pocket, we are all richer for the collective generosity of those who choose to participate constructively.
I would continue in my efforts even without a single thank you because I feel it is important. We don't undertake these labours to impress others or gather platitudes to honour ourselves with; we do it to honour the memory of men and women who aren't even alive any more to render their thanks. It might be well to step back once in a while and remember that.
I have no hardship with people emailing me with questions and hope they will continue to do so. My advice is often for them to post to this forum, where I assure them that knowledgable persons in all things related to the Canadian military are ready and willing to respond, as generous members of our community. After reading the comments here, I hope I have not been wasting their time.
Well said Michael! I come to this site every so often to view the information a comments made here and on most occasions learn something new everyday. I am not a military researcher but do have a little bit of knowledge of WW2 based on stories provided to me as a youngster sitting across the dinner table from my dad. I have on a couple of occasions been able to contribute informative based on what he told me way back then. I get some enjoyment coming to this site from time to time because it brings back memories of when I was a kid (back in the 40's) related to my dad's military days and his stories (good times & bad) of WW2. As you say it's because of men like you that these memories will live on and it does bring back some enjoyment to an old man like me. One of my teachers always said Asking questions is how one learns don't be afraid to ask, you guy's may contribute more than you think in this regard!