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Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

Barney the Butler

A Midwesterner can learn all the tricks of butler school and still never master the art of bending to please rich people.

Butler Carrying a Tray of Martinis Outside
(Photo by mark peterson/Corbis via Getty Images)

Barnabus, or Barney as he was called, was probably the only member at the White Cloud shooting range and perhaps in the entire state of Kansas who had ever eaten at Gaston Glock’s favorite Parisian restaurant. An actual Glock firearm fell way outside of Barnabus’s prison guard salary of 14 dollars an hour, so as we stood deep in a heart of a landfill, we pulverized the paper targets with slightly cheaper versions of the Glock: a Walther PPS 9mm (compared to the Glock G43), a Springfield Armory XD .40 (versus a Glock 23), and a dozen others. 

Every time we reloaded, Barnabus gave me a detailed account of the weapons in his arsenal, educated me on polymers and low-quality Chinese-made rounds, offered a history lesson on the utilitarianism of the Glock, and apologized several times that most of his prized artillery, including a Tommy gun, was still in storage from when he left White Cloud to be a butler in Europe.