Monday, June 4, 2012

Lift Off (in Gallup, NM)

A wonderful incident occurred today (Friday, June 2). I was in the laundromat in Gallup (the lone anglo) and as I went outside I said g'day to a guy sitting with his wife. He said hi in a drawl that got me wondering where he was from.
Chain of Craters Scenic Byway

Later, I pulled the sleeping bag from the dryer ahead of time. The zipper was so hot it burned muh fangar. But while waving it in the air I noticed there was still 13 minutes on the dryer. I mentioned it to the woman next to me and she said something to her husband. He was pulling things out of a washer and went right to it.

As I returned to stuffing the bag, the drawler drew up on the other side. He opened by asking where I was from. I mentioned the three-day journey on the Chain of Craters Scenic Byway.

He said he'd flown in from N. Dakota (a fellow traveler) and was an iron worker. I realized he had a slight speech impediment, but the challenge made it all the more interesting. I added I'd spent another three days dawdling through the Zuni Mountains Scenic Tour (44 miles). I'd taken the better part of a week to get to Gallup; a two hour trip for most folks (from Albuquerque). Never succinct, I went on about maybe getting to the Tetons to do some fishing.

He commented that fishing sometimes requires luck. I agreed and added that besides which, most of the streams had been fished out long ago and were now stocked. (Rumor has it domestic trout are even more wiley than wild). He asked if I'd checked the stocking dates. I said no, that it was more about putting the worm on the hook and throwing it in the water, than whether I caught anything.

He then held out his hand like he wanted to bump fists and depart. I made the gesture, but he indicated there was more. He said,"Turn your hand over." I did, but kept my fist closed. He then said, "Open your hand." When I did he dropped a fist-full of quarters into my palm.

I asked, Where'd you get this?" He indicated the change-maker's window. I said, "I don't need any money." He said, "Well, it's a gift from Alley (Al Lee?), a friendly Navajo." I thanked him, laughed and headed for the door.

As I passed the couple who were making use of my dryer I gave each one of Al's "lucky" quarters.

And as I drove away I started to cry (kindness does that to me). I was extremely uncomfortable in the laundromat. It's been a week since I've been around people and when I go into town the bright lights, music, dancing gurlz, (drugs,sex & R & R) are overwhelming. But time and again (in town & in the wilds) things like this happen...the kindness of strangers.

But there's more.

As I was trying to drive through my tears I noticed Aurelia's Diner. It looked like an old Dairy Queen so I made a U-turn, wiped my eyes, strolled in and ordered a cone. She asked what color I wanted. The list was staggering, but just as she got to purple a waitress came around the corner in a purple t-shirt. "Purple!" I blurted. It's my fav, after all. My waitress was a beautiful Latina and the cone was almost as pretty as she. A real purple, not some wuss lavender. And when was the last time you saw a purple ice cream cone?

It's good to be oot & aboot agin.

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