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Letters, Lids, and Lessons Learned


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"So, lid, COPY!"
I was a novice.  Literally and figuratively.  That is, I was new to ham radio and even though I had earned my entry level license, I had a whole lot to learn.

Oh, yeah.  I knew all the basic stuff.  I had so committed the allowable frequencies to my memory that to this day (some 40+ years later), I can still rattle them off like a first grader can recite the alphabet. (3700 to 3750 kHz, 7100 to 7150  kHz, 21.1 to 21.2 MHz, 28.1 to 28.2 MHz.)  I had learned Morse code and felt comfortable copying it.  Except for the three pesky letters (D, G, and L) that, for some reason, I always seemed to draw a blank on when I heard them.  (But, thanks to the FCC, those three letters were no longer a problem for me.  The suffix of my novice call was: GDL.)

I even knew a lot of the accepted operating practices, lingo, and traditions of amateur radio.  I knew that on the air courtesy was essential, that a traffic count didn't mean how many cars drove past your QTH, and the biggest insult you could hurl at another ham was to call him a "lid."

So, imagine my astonishment and dismay when during several of my early QSO's, the other station would respond to me with the following:  "Roger.  Roger. So, lid, COPY!"

I was stunned at the temerity of those operators.  After all, what did they expect?  An A-1 Operator?  On the novice bands?  Hey, people!  I was new.  I was trying.  I just wanted to learn and I knew I would get better.  Just give me a chance.

I studied the notepad I used to copy the code I received.  And then it hit me.  They weren't sending "So, lid, copy."  It was "SOLID COPY"!

OOPS.  That was when I learned how important context is when copying code.  I also learned it's better to say "GOOD COPY" or "FB FIST" when engaged in a CW QSO with a new ham.  Just sayin'.

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